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Looking for tips on getting back self-esteem

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MJane posted 9/8/2013 07:41 AM

I only found out this week but I knew something was wrong - I put it down to work stress and baby broken nights - he had told me sex hadn't been working even though we almost never had any and he, usually a passionate man, always made me initiate and seemed so detached. I look in the mirror and can't help but wonder whether I am what he wanted anymore - objectively I am pretty but he has taken away most of my confidence in these last months and with the revelation that he was with someone for19 can any mum of a toddler with pasta on her top and constant cleaning up of poo and mess compete with a younger single model and why should I have to? Part of me just feels "to hell with him" - he took the easy route at a time when I was up half the night feeding and nappy changing....I don't know who I am anymore, I look in the mirror and just see someone who wasn't 'enough' - this isn't did you all get through this??!

traicionada posted 9/8/2013 07:53 AM

Oh sweetie, his A is not about you or your looks. I have met enough A victims to know we're a pretty beautiful bunch (outside & inside). Have you check out the healing library yet? Have you considered IC?

aesir posted 9/8/2013 07:58 AM

I recall something said here early on when I joined.

It's not the waters fault that the broken glass can not be filled.

MJane posted 9/8/2013 08:02 AM

Aesir I so love that quote....but I feel so broken....keep wondering what I could have done when deep down I know it isn't me - I was eight months pregnant with a huge baby and no desire for sex....i know some people reeling from an affair have one themselves but I am not that person and yet a part of me feels so ugly and insufficient....I just want to crawl into a ball

Ashland13 posted 9/8/2013 11:30 AM

HI impossible as it is to believe, it's not all or always about looks. From my understanding of Nearly Exh, it's about other things and looks are sometimes second-like availability, willingness to defy boundaries, but my understanding is that sometimes it can be about ego.

I don't want to generalize so will use his situation as an example, to say that OW is apparently a massive person and I am rather tiny, I've been called my whole life, yet we have other common denominators that he was happy to tell me (and I didn't want to hear).

Also, FWIW, I have a friend who is Barbie-like and a BS as well in a very similar situation as I am because of what the Exh there did. ETA that the OW in that situation is a head shaker, regarding appearance, but a rather loosey-goosy gal with a rep for helping herself to married men and that's what drew the here.

As for self esteem, I am a sufferer of that anyway, and the A and other cheating didn't help. But it has helped me learn lessons about esteem and I'll share some because you asked for tips.

One of the differences with Nearly Exh and I is that his esteem comes from other people and their compliments and what he can get them to do-hence, OW-my self esteem comes from inside and my accomplishments, though is harder to accomplish lately.

I take it simply and not from the mirror, because I know exactly what you mean about feeling like competing-my esteem comes from something I did today or doing something and seeing our daughter happy or do well at her homework. When I was taking classes, I got huge esteem from grades and it was a way to actually measure my abilities.

You are a parent also, from your post, so maybe one way would be to see if you can put more thought into your parenting and child and less into what WH is doing or said. That's my new goal, trying to understand why my brain latches onto negativity so and messes me up. I want to turn it around.

I wish you well and know exactly what you mean.

[This message edited by Ashland13 at 11:32 AM, September 8th (Sunday)]

Thefly559 posted 9/8/2013 12:18 PM

My stbxw told me I am not a man! She called me pathetic and obsessed with her all while she was cheating and in love with another person ! ( can't call him a man because he is not ) I asked her to stop talking personally to other men at late nights and she said no they are better friends than you! So I know your pain , I am nowhere near past that self esteem damage but I can tell you what is helping me . The gym ! Losing weight ( I was not real heavy before but losing some helped) , focusing on me and my kids only. It took me a little while to get here and I fall in and out of it but it is getting better. His affair has nothing to do with you! I did not believe this at first either till I read like every book on it and till I stepped out of myself to look at the marraige through a window . I realized I tried 1000000% to save my marraige and I am sure you will or did too! But once you focus on you and that first guy at the grocery store tries to pick you up or looks at you in that way!!! You will slowly get that mojo back . For me my stbxw and I were together since kids , 18 years. I never even thought of cheating so it was like starting life over. But slowly I will because I have no choice! We did not want this but it is here . You deserve better than him , hopefully he will realize his errors and stop but you cannot control that ! You can control you. Those are my thoughts I wish you the best .

Broken6 posted 9/8/2013 15:04 PM

It is hard to regain self-esteem after someone devastates you and treats you this way. I think in knowing that the problem lies with them, not you, helps. I too feel awful about myself, I think I am 50, who the hell else would want me if my own H doesn't even want me. From all the articles I have read though, it isn't about me, it is his problem - he cheated, and he is broken. He needs to fix whatever was missing/wrong within himself. I also found that I need to be strong, because people aren't attracted to weak crumbling broken people. I want to be strong for me and my kids though. You are stronger than you think. This too shall pass.

emotionalgirl posted 9/8/2013 19:24 PM

MJane....I reiterate what everyone else says...the A is not about us the BS it is about something broken in them the WS.

This being said I know what it is like to feel as if you are not enough, for me it is the fact that I am overweight and WH has no problem mentioning that fact.

DO NOT make changes in yourself for him, make them for you so that you feel good about yourself. For myself I have hired a personal trainer and nutritionist and am seeing IC for me. If it benefits my marriage in the end great if not I will look great when I file for D.

We all know WS love to spend money on themselves and the AP, take equal money for you and spend it on yourself. Get a sitter or make him stay with the kids and go to the hair salon, or for a pedicure or massage. Do nice things for will make you feel good and make you smile when you look in the mirror.

I am smiling allot more at myself these days and WH is getting antsy and asking what is up. I just say nothing. Our self esteem needs to come from within, not from their approval of us. Good luck (((hugs)))

[This message edited by emotionalgirl at 7:25 PM, September 8th (Sunday)]

brknwmn posted 9/8/2013 20:44 PM

I'm working on this myself. A couple of great books are The self-esteem workbook by Judy Bartkowiak and After the Affair by Janis Abrahams Spring PH.D.

I can tell you from my experience the people that my husband cheated with look nothing like me. Like he took a big step down. It was to the point where I actually said to him "but they're ugly! they're out of shape & old!" (i'm 26 yrs old 5'1" and 110 lbs...the last person he cheated with was 40, had 3 kids, was about 5'5" and 250 lbs) her appearance can be beautiful I'm sure bcuz I know lots of beautiful curvy girls but from what I thought I knew about my husband who is in the fitness industry was that this wasn't his type.

I'm having to learn that it isn't about looks...bcuz I'm sure you're gorgeous and he was just stupid

Skan posted 9/9/2013 09:57 AM

My husband cheated on me with, literally, the first female of the species that said YES to him. That's how special she was. She was older, not too fit, spent most of her time talking about her high school aged daughter (and if THAT isn't a creepy thing to talk about with an essential AFF stranger!), and when the sex was over, she rolled over and started answering texts/phone calls from said daughter. Yeah, what a sex-pot temptress.

Nevertheless, I, like you, felt like as I put it, the old tired fat wife. Because, of course, if MY husband cheated on me, then it MUST mean that I wasn't woman enough to keep my man!

Everyone is right. It's not about you. It's about them and the gaping hole that they are trying to fill (and yes, I meant each and every innuendo that that sentence causes ). Of course, you take it personally it's a personal decision on their part that wounds you personally. But while their infidelity impacts you in the same way that a car running a red light would, slamming into you, you didn't cause them to cheat any more than you caused them to run that red light in your marriage. (((hugs)))

dontknowwhyme posted 9/9/2013 11:40 AM

I struggled with self esteem also. For the longest time I felt that I wasn't this or that in comparison to others. It is hard not to take a self esteem hit. My whole marriage I seriously never noticed other women or really even cared about my appearance much. Don't get me wrong I was not an embarrassment or slob or anything but I was just me. Take it or leave it.

Near the end of the M I really started doing a lot of work on myself and coming to many aha moments. One of them being the idea that there was a good possibility that the marriage was not going to work out. It was tough to swallow but I had to imagine that it was a possibility. I then came to the conclusion that if it did not work then I tried my best and either way I would be ok.
Making that step changed several things in me.
Then the final DDay came.

For the first time I did actually notice other women existed. I would actually notice them. Not stalker notice, but I was more aware of the many beautiful women you can come across at any moment.

The other thing I noticed is that once you start noticing these women you also notice other things. They notice you too. I was surprised that they did. I didn't recognize it before. I was committed to the M up to that point and was blind. Just the simple Hi and a smile seemed to be kind of in a different language all of a sudden.

When I started looking around I started to get the idea that maybe there really isn't anything wrong with me after all. I could walk with my head a little higher knowing that maybe I do have a shot at a new beginning.

It is a shame that I had to go through the lows of having my self esteem stomped on. No one should have to deal with that. But really in the end I learned that self esteem is exactly just that. The self. I created the image I was not good enough. No one else can do that. I also learned that your self esteem can get better too. Of course I used attention of others to help with that. And that's not always healthy. But in the end I understood that through it all I did not get taller, darker, or more handsome, but yet I did because I actually believed that I did have some of those qualities. (At least enough for me)

I will always be just me.

So my advice to you is do not let an affair stained mirror change the way you should feel about yourself. I'm sure you are certainly more than "enough" for any man that actually deserves you.

[This message edited by dontknowwhyme at 12:24 PM, September 9th (Monday)]

movingforward777 posted 9/9/2013 11:55 AM

I got through it all by seeing a counsellor. She helped me realize that I was not the cause of the affair but the victim of it. He chose to stray. He chose to lie to me and decieve his kids. He chose to throw away everything we had worked for over 20 yrs to have the chance to go meet this other woman (who went back to her H so he didn't end up with her either).
I gained a lot of strength from my kids. I had to stand up, pull up my socks and get on with life in order to be able to function at work so I could keep a roof over their heads and feed them. I drew strength and confidence from the weight I lost while on the "infidelity diet" (couldn't eat and lost weight) made me feel better about myself to see the weight dropping off! I had to get the Dr to give me something to help me sleep because that was screwed up too...
I would suggest making him do his share when it comes to getting up with the baby at night! He can take his turn changing nappies and bathing/feeding your children. He is their father and needs to buck up!
Pardon the expression, but "grow some balls" and tell him he needs to help out at home....maybe a dose of the 180 (see healing library for details) will open his eyes...don't let him make you feel like a door mat any longer...stand up and take back your confidence, life and strength.....
Come to SI often...the love, strength and advice here is so valuable....we've all either been there, or are there with you....HUGS

MJane posted 9/9/2013 11:56 AM

Thanks so much for all the words - am sitting in a coffee bar almost in tears waiting for plane home (just day work trip) worrying that despite promises he is meeting with OW (her detailed note let me know anytime I've been out of town they made the most of it). I can't breathe with the sadness of the thoughts running through my head. I honestly don't think I can get through this - am thinking of cutting and runnning as this can't be my life, looking over my shoulder and fearing this kind of pain again. I so respect all of you that get to R but at moment I just don't see how that can be a full life for me - I hate him right now for making me feel so broken, so different from me. I am a sunny person and all I want to do is hide away and cry and cry and just disappear....

tushnurse posted 9/9/2013 12:14 PM

No matter the reason, I think most of us BS's take a pretty big hit to our self esteem.
My suggestion to answer this question is actually pretty simple, regardless of choice to R or D. It's time to focus on you. If it makes you feel pretty, and more of a woman to have pretty toes, then go get a pedi, if you haven't had a post baby makeover go do it. I mean the whole deal, a new cut, color, something cute, and easy. Go the whole nine yards, and get some fresh new makeup too.

Be kind to yourself, and make sure that you do something each and every day for you, and you alone. Hell some days that is something as simple as using the whitening strips on your teeth, and other days, going for a full massage. But sister you deserve it you are a stronge, beautiful woman, and an awesome mom. Keep telling yourself that every time you look in the mirror. You will soon realize how right you are, and no matter his choice it doesn't change who you are.

Seriously. I mean this, and speak it from my own experience. My esteem was in the toilet, by the time Dday rolled around. He did a lot transference of anger at himself through the whole A. I couldn't do anything right. So I get it.

((((and strength))))

1Faith posted 9/9/2013 12:20 PM

The first few months after DDay are brutal. Anyone here can attest to that.

I hope you consider IC. Start with the 180 (see healing library) to start rebuilding you and your self esteem. It is completely normal for your self esteem to take a nose dive. How couldn't it?

But please repeat after me...

Regardless of how you were, what you looked like, how much sex you were or weren't having - NOTHING justifies cheating. EVER. Nothing. Hold you head up and say "I did nothing wrong" because you didn't cause your H to cheat. He chose to.

Most therapists will tell you not to make any BIG decisions for at least 6 months after DDay.

Your brain can't process such massive upheaval right away. IC can help you work through your feelings. Get away from the raw emotion and focus on what YOU need to heal.

Use this board like a shield, like a safety harness, like a warm blanket. The people here will always have your back. We've been exactly where you are and we've come out the other side stronger.

You're not alone and you are more than enough. You are a kind, decent person that has been hurt in a way no person should ever be.

You get through it one day at a time. And it takes a lot of time.

Hopefully your WH is showing remorse? If not, then the healing process is even harder.

Hang in there. Sending hugs and prayers MJane.

crushed47 posted 9/10/2013 06:58 AM


My self esteem was lower than low after my exww walked out of our door and into her boss' house(and I believed all the justification bull that she threw at me). What worked for me to get my self esteem back was the following: 1) hit the gym, 2) new hair style, 3) some cosmetic dental work done, 4) some new clothes and 5) talks with some good friends and 6) more time spent in prayer. Trust me when I say that you can not only survive this but you can come out the other side in much better shape than you were at dday-1. Keep your chin up.

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