It's no surprise I'm a recovering insecuraholic. It's no secret what I've uncovered so far. Mother who made snide comments when I hit puberty, boyfriend who cheated with the exact physical opposite, "friends" who tore me down. I've seen all these elements, plus my own self inflicted stuff. Becoming a mother myself. Earning my mommy stripes. Yada yada.
I was visiting with my best friend today and I told her, I feel so stuck. I work so hard at my insecurities but it is so.easy to get sucked back in. And it doesn't really matter what I do, what I change, it's still there simmering under the surface. I don't know how to describe it other than something similar to an eating disorder. Please understand I'm not making light of real eating disorders. I'm not comparing. It's just the closest thing I can think of to describe how I feel. An obsessive, anxiety filled, nightmare. Body flaws out the wazoo. It doesn't stop. I feel...out of control, empty, disgusting...disordered.
Oh, disclaimer - please do not start with any positive affirmation "you're amazing" stuff. This is not an ego kibble seeking post by any stretch of the imagination.
Aaaanyway, couple things started this. There was a mommy bathing suit post in OT. DD8 came in the kitchen whining the other day about being fat and needing to work out because she was fat. QS and I were talking last night and he shared a story he'd heard a couple day prior about a mother who doesn't have an ideal body but wears whatever bathing suit she wants because she doesn't want her children to see her lack of confidence. She wants her kids to believe they can look perfectly fine in whatever they want. Comfortable in their own skin.
And with that discussion, something in my mind clicked. I heard the "click". I was that 7, 8 year old girl, sitting in the floor, putting pressure on Mother's feet while she did 300 crunches a day. I sat there and watched her ride 5 to 10 miles a day on her stationary bike. I saw her eat nothing all day, sipping only Diet Coke, and eating a tiny meal at dinner when Dad was home. I was encouraged to "be healthy" and "exercise" but the only time my Mother did it was when she felt fat and needed to keep her weight under control. There were NEVER evening walks just for the heck of it. We didn't do physical stuff for fun. It was all hinged on weight loss and the fear of fat.
I. Hate. Working. Out. Why? Because if I work out, if I exercise, I am admitting I'm fat. I'm admitting something is wrong with me and I have to fix it. Not that my muscles need to move. Not that my blood needs to flow. Not that it's heart healthy. No. I'm fat. I'm a cow. I need to work out to not be included in that label of "eww, fat." (Have I mentioned how incredibly superficial and critical my FOO is?) I look at people who are all physical and "love" to run like they are insane. Who does that crap? Why are you working out, why are you running, you're body is perfect. Go home. You're done.
I have a daughter. Because of my own mother's comments, I am VERY careful what I say about my body or weight when DD is around. I do not want her to have this struggle. But in the meanwhile, I can't figure out how to defeat the war in my own mind. I can't figure out how to ditch that negative view on movement, even when I see results, I see statistics, I see people like TCD who kick butt and take names, I see the benefits, but for some reason I cannot make that switch in my head.
I encourage my kids. They love to move. They love the outdoors. They are wicked active. I want to NOT hate exercise and working out. I want to enjoy participating with my kids. Not secretly pray the sun goes down faster so I can curl up and read a book.
QS adores me. Has never faltered from it. He accepts it all. Every stage of my adult life. Pre and post babies. He has never pushed me away. Unless he was depressed. And I completely understand that was a mental battle for him and had nothing to do with me. I *know* all of this. And I do ok for a little bit, but then I feel the anxiety welling up again. I don't feel comfortable in anything but a bathrobe, under a blanket, hidden in my room. I pull my clothes constantly, I adjust all the time. I shake as I walk into church. I keep my head down. I don't want to know who is or is not looking.
I feel mental. Maybe I am. I should be able to just accept everything I know in my head. But I cannot seem to make the connection. I am proud of the progress I've made so far. Mentally and emotionally. But I look at the rest of me and think "eww". I'm one of those "It's what's inside that counts" people.
Don't even know if I should post this here. But I don't know where else to take it.
First one, how to become ok with how you look and
Two, How to become ok with some sort of exercise that doesn't feel like exercise to you
Am I correct?
I think so?
I don't know how to be ok with all of me. I get how to do the mental and emotional things. Personal affirmations of "I was that person, I'm not anymore." Working on flaws and seeing progress. But how exactly do you do that with a physical appearance when you cannot abide the sight of yourself in the mirror?
Like I said, there are times of progress. But when I hit a regression, it hits haaaard. No clue what triggers them. So no way to prevent them.
[This message edited by Aubrie at 9:37 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]
It might be worth it to explore what you felt watching your Mom. I still have that good muscle memory of when exercise was fun. Maybe getting out and doing fun active things with your kiddos will help you build that good muscle memory. It takes time.
I can only control myself, no one else. I do not have that kind of power.
This is a great book for a female to read coming from a parent that has any NPD characteristics. There are also some exercises in that book to help work on body self image issues. Very specific things to do. Not look and talk to yourself stuff. More involved than that.
As to the other thing, what could be something that you could do that would active that wouldn't feel like exercise?
I have found that challenging myself physically has made me appreciate and love my body. I am not perfect and I have my physical flaws, but experiencing the amazing things my body can do makes those flaws seem a lot less important, and I can appreciate its beauty.
My advice would be to try something radical and new, whether it be jogging or belly dancing classes.
You sound so much like me. The incessant critique that goes on in our heads, the self loathing concerning our bodies and a need to hide under the covers. That voice is pretty harsh. I too had a mother who was always dieting, and at one stage needed to be hospitalised when she weighed around 70 pounds. I also had a stepmother who was small and never grappled with her weight and I felt very much compared to her by my father who had his own issues around women and weight (lots of snide comments at a formative in my development). For me, weight loss/dieting has always been associated with exercise. I NEVER exercised to feel strong and healthy or for mental wellbeing, but rather as a punishing weight loss tool. Needless to say, my big exercise plans never were able to be sustained. Which would lead to more self loathing about how useless I was etc etc. A vicious circle that has occurred my whole life. And wears the soul right down.
I have huge triggers when it comes to exercising and currently I am forcing myself to get out of bed, out from under the covers and walk for at least an hour down by the river. I now listen to music as I walk and have made playlists from Spotify. I pay attention to my body moving, my legs moving, my breathing, the environment around me and tell myself that this is ENOUGH for now. It feels like a huge achievement to just get out and do this, and helps to ameliorate the berating talk that goes on my head. I now know that I will feel good for the rest of the day. It also gives me energy to do things around the house, have a shower even.
It is a baby step, but those steps add up.
I just read a great book called "Appetites" by Caroline Knapp who addresses really well that emptiness and sadness we have inside. The hatred and monitoring of our bodies and how focussing on our weight stops us from doing and thinking about a whole heap of other things. However, all the analysing of the Whys in the world will do very little if not accompanied by a willingness to DO. It is those small, yet significant actions (like my walk each day) that add up to us moving somewhere else. Moving forward.
Pick one thing to do each day, even if it is to walk for 30 minutes and while you are walking, think about what your amazing body does for you each day. Baby steps.
[This message edited by ophelia24 at 10:48 PM, July 8th (Tuesday)]
It's fantastic, but it hurts.
It'll help with that need to feed the critical beast.
I hope Fallen might be perusing old haunts and responds to this.
Is there anything you find 'fun' that might get you out and about (or something QS might be willing to do with you)?
Bicycling is great and not like 'working out'. So is working in the yard or antiquing.
Hiding under a blanket in a robe and reading is a cop out, lady. Not in, you like to do it? Me too! But don't blame liking to read and veg for your lack of activity.
A physical activity that you LOVE does not equal 'working out'. I've never in my life 'worked out', and neither has any of my family. My stuff was horses, sisters' was track and field and piano, and brothers' was working for dad for college money and flying lessons.
I was that 7, 8 year old girl, sitting in the floor, putting pressure on Mother's feet while she did 300 crunches a day. I sat there and watched her ride 5 to 10 miles a day on her stationary bike. I saw her eat nothing all day, sipping only Diet Coke, and eating a tiny meal at dinner when Dad was home. I was encouraged to "be healthy" and "exercise" but the only time my Mother did it was when she felt fat and needed to keep her weight under control. There were NEVER evening walks just for the heck of it. We didn't do physical stuff for fun. It was all hinged on weight loss and the fear of fat.
Yeah, and that's NOT NORMAL. How in the hell did she have time to clean and cook and raise her kids? You KNOW this. She was pleasing psycho dad? Also not normal.
You know all of this and have taken a lot of measures to limit the contact.
What has happened to send you once again down this cheeseless tunnel?
I look at people who are all physical and "love" to run like they are insane. Who does that crap?
Me too. I *detest* 'running'. I'd rather mow them all down with my horse and be done with it. And it would keep them off the freakin' highways. (apologies to all runners, kinda )
I see people like TCD who kick butt and take names
The same TCD who posted about this *exact same issue* a few weeks ago in general? A woman who looks in the mirror and sees all these horrible body flaws without ever mentioning what the body flaws might be??? (because they don't exist) (same as you)
I sit out in the parking lot of the bootcamp thing I go to and have to psyche myself up to go in. I know it will be an hour of hurt. I also know that it's good for me. Life is full of having to make choices that are good for us - using sunscreen, eating right, wearing our seatbelt.
Ask yourself why this is any different.
me (WW/BS): 48
4 kiddos in mid 20's
“Never be so focused on what you're looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.”
It is really difficult, especially for us women, to learn to be okay with our flaws. Every freaking commercial has a 90 pound woman with size D's and bleached hair promoting some product or another.
The average size for females is 14 to 16. We never see them in media though. And when you have a family that is totally looks-obsessed, you get it deep inside you that you are only worthy if you look perfect (and even the perfect models aren't perfect without their makeup and airbrushing.) Some of them have awful skin and cellulite.
I used to feel I had to be perfect....and I came close, once upon a time. I worked out, no fat on me, no cellulite, firm all over...I had tons of people tell me I should go into modeling. I did feel good about myself physically. But there were insecurities in there still and looking back, I realize "I" was the one making it all about looks, which made me look for my self esteem in the shallow, superficial world. That isn't a fun place to be though. Because if you are valued for your looks, at some point they are going to fade. And you attract narcissists, sociopaths, all kinds of users.......
Now, I am 35 pounds overweight. I am starting to show some aging. I have a wrinkly baby belly. I even have fat knees. But I am no longer insecure. I love me. I am so awesome! It took me a while, but I learned it isn't about physical beauty (even though it seems that is what the world tells us).
The guy I have attracted now, and that I am sticking with, loves me for who I am. He tells me that constantly. He loves my heart, my intelligence, my strength (very much my strength), the fact that I talk things over with him, the fact that I care about him, and he thinks I am the sexiest thing on 2 legs....even with a jiggly belly and butt.....
And I have slowly learned to accept myself, flaws and all. I will always have flaws. If I were perfect, I would be insufferable so it is a good thing I have flaws.
Your post is all about looks. Why are you making it all about looks? Beautiful women are a dime a dozen. What differentiates you from the others? The people in your life that really count love you for who you are, your soul. The people that worry about how you look are superficial and boring. Why do you think so many models/actresses/rock stars end up drugged out and overdosing? Because they realize they are just a product to others...to be used and marketed. The majority of people don't love them for who they are, they love them for the image they represent. It is empty.
Each one of us is unique and have our own gifts to give this world. What are your gifts? Why do your friends value you? Are you caring, loving, kind, honest, smart, interesting, talented, giving, etc....... Those are the things that count, and those are the things that make people stick around. Looks might draw some in, but there has to be something underneath in order for people to stay (if you are seeking a relationship with connections).
Figure out what your gifts are, then use them. You will find you are valued for something much more important than what you weigh or whether you have cellulite. I know people on here value you for your straight talk, your interest in self-growth, and your honesty in posting. Those are wonderful gifts. These people don't know what you look like, and they don't care. They value you for you.
ETA: Oh, I do exercise. I do it because it makes me feel better....and happier. It is a great mood-builder. And I used to be one of those joggers. The "runner's high" is a real phenomenon. It makes me feel good.
[This message edited by NaiveAgain at 8:03 AM, July 9th (Wednesday)]
It really sucks, doesn't it?
I have started running in the past couple years - I hated running, but now it is such a stress reducer, almost like a drug. I don't run regularly but I do when I need to.
I struggle with self image - huge! Its an internal battle and unless that mindset changes, we are stuck there. I know that I have to do things that make me feel confident and I am still looking for these things.
I wish you luck and know that most people feel the same way, they just hide it really well.
Dang it. It all fits. Mother is not as bad as those in the book. Her jabs are more subtle. They're masked. But it doesn't matter because my sister and I walk away with the same icky feelings described. Is she narcissistic? I don't know. It could be Dad. She is his victim. His behaviors or whatever rub off on her. But again, doesn't matter. I feel what I feel for a reason. It cannot be explained away as my imagination or "rewriting history" or "making stuff up". It's there. It's real. It hurts. And everyone that is close to me can both see and feel it.
What did I feel when Mother was working out? Annoyance. She was ALWAYS working out. I felt a sense of panic, urgency, and obsessiveness. It hung in the air in our home. I couldn't understand what the big deal was. She was already so skinny. She had no weight to lose. Even as a child, I could see it. When I brought it up a couple years ago, ooooh boy. Did she downplay. I was insistent that she had issues and she could not convince me otherwise. She got mad.
She worked out like a fiend and still managed to keep the house spotless and have dinner on the table every night. We entertained regularly. She was an early riser and she ran all day. She was a perfectionist. The only thing she had control over was her house. She was on top of it. Needless to say, I resent cleaning and prefer to spend my time making messes, not cleaning them up. I am "sloppy". I "let things go". Excuse me, but kids live in my house. Back off Cleaning Nazi. (Whole nother story.)
What sent me down this tunnel? I have no clue what triggered it. I didn't realize it was creeping up on me till a couple days ago. I felt "off". Figured it was hormones. But then I was sitting in a public setting and realized I was shaking and freaking out over what I was wearing and how I was sitting. And the thought hit me, "I have a serious problem. And I legit don't know how to fix it. What I've been doing isn't working. It's not deep enough. It's not improving. It keeps coming back."
I don't want kibbles. I don't want praise. I don't want high fives. I don't think I've ever really wanted it. Sure. I sought it out. I ignorantly thought it would change me for the better. Tried it. Didn't work. Blew up a marriage. Trying to repair it. What I really sought was an internal peace. And I've come a loooong way. I know what *doesn't* work. 80% of the time I feel ok. But the 20% is vicious and unrelenting.
QS is going to buy me runners this weekend. I don't know how I will use them. But I know I need to wear the tread out by the end of the year. Somehow. Some way. I think that is the faking it till I make it. Helps the external, sure. And I will hate every second of it. But maybe with the help of the book, delving deeper into it, my internal will shift and will waltz hand in hand with the external. I dunno.
And I will hate every second of it
Aubrie - hugs!!!
i wonder if you thought of it as helping your internal exclusively if you could get more on board with exercise. Who cares if you lose weight, look better, etc. What about feeling better? Doing something to take care of yourself, ya know? I guess I'm just repeating what I already said... sorry.
Just wanted to say, I can totally relate to the pressure you write about and being an insecuraholic. I get that same feeling of - physical activities are about exercise to lose weight, to look a certain way, to be healthy (read: ideal). Being scared if people are looking, or what they're looking at. Similar stuff involving growing up with a parent who made you feel self-conscious, except in my case, it was Dad who said things about my body.
The stuff with Dad's been on my mind lately, interestingly, so your post is timely. One time that's been haunting me is, he saw a picture of me rock-digging one day (it was a group project to lay a waterline to our greenhouse), using a pick-axe, and my arms looked niiiice. His coworker expressed envy over my arms. He told her: "Don't worry, I'm sure my daughter doesn't work out as much as you, her arms might look strong but she doesn't do certain exercises…" I'm not remembering his exact words, but it was very similar, pretty much assuring the coworker that while I *looked* strong, she was probably much stronger than me. There were lots of other things too - no matter what I did physically, my father would say "that's a nice start" and thought I needed to go to the gym in order to "really" be strong. With back, neck, and knee issues, the gym is extremely unappealing to me, but in our society, a woman who refuses the gym is "letting herself go"...
Gained 20 pounds recently. The people I've told say it's a good thing, they say they can't even tell the difference, that I look good now instead of too thin. But the weight gain hasn't stopped. Three more pounds since last week, skin spilling out of my pants… and Mr. Silver who used to rave about other girls? Am I really supposed to believe I look "better"?, I ask myself. Then watching WWE twice a week and seeing the Divas, and all the commercials and TV shows and movies with all the hot actresses… Blah.
So here's what I'm pledging to do… If this helps you too…
1. Not watching commercials anymore. The minute a commercial comes on, doing something else. There are too many images that just plain suck for our self-confidence.
2. Watching less TV and movies in general. I remember a time when I didn't watch a ton of TV, and my self-esteem was generally better. My son is watching things like "Magic School Bus" and "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood", so that actually has been helping a lot in terms of fewer detrimental-to-self-esteem TV shows.
3. Eliminating certain words from my vocabulary: beautiful (unless I'm talking about botany), ugly, skinny, fat, damn even writing these are triggery… Replacing those words with other adjectives and repeating them in my head instead: thoughtful, funny, cheerful, happy, sad, upright (posture), tough as nails, tense, stern, smart, etc. Those adjectives can be used to describe my world and the people in it, including my close family members. Dwelling less on describing others and therefore myself by looks and instead by personality traits or moods.
4. Finding a "physical activity" that's just for fun - like you mentioned, Aubrie, going out for walks just because it feels nice. Never mind the so-called exercise-measuring that goes into each activity - just doing it because it feels nice to get fresh air or because there's an adventure I want to go on. Or gardening, or chasing my toddler. Something that just feels nice. No stress.
5. No more looking in the damn mirror. Or at least severely limiting the number of times I look. Used to be I looked before each shower. Now I try to only look when I'm brushing my teeth, if that.
6. Thought-stopping or changing. The minute the insecurities come up, I change the subject. I don't think about my H - thinking about him tends to increase the insecurities even if he is being supportive. Instead, something like what my son is doing right at the moment (and then going to play with him), or maybe something that's going on with my garden, or maybe global warming or some other environmental issue… Something that's far away from the insecurities. It helps!
7. Addressing all the FOO pains and all the things that happened with others that hurt my self-image. You said that you had boyfriends who cheated on you, and with people your exact opposite body type? Addressing that pain and the effects it had on you.
I haven't gotten there yet in terms of banishing the insecurities, but I've been noticing there are changes. It takes a long time, like with any habit we build. But I think we can do it. I think we can at least severely lower the pain we feel from the insecurities and all the bad messages we're meant to receive. We can tune into the more positive messages.
From one insecuraholic to another…
[This message edited by silverhopes at 3:24 PM, July 9th (Wednesday)]
People who work out and exercise and get physical have goals and they have to control themselves. I. Hate. Control. Because there was so much control in my past, I have an "Eff you, I will do what I want, when I want, because you will not control me." Sure. Body issues. But I don't diet or work out. Because it means control. And I rebel at the idea of having something or someone tell me that I can or cannot do something.
Hi. I'm Aubrie. The messiest, more unorganized perfectionist on Earth. I excel at certain things because *I KNOW* I am good at it and will succeed. I don't try different things because I might fail. And failure is bad. Even if I've never done something before, failure is still bad. So I don't do it. I know my limitations. I do not push myself so I don't fail.
For now. I'm faking it for the kids. I am building a list. Since my trip to Chicago, my kids are obsessed with baseball. Ok fine. Let's go play. A close friend and I are going to start exploring parks and waterfalls within a 2 hour radius of home. (She doesn't know it yet, but she'll totally be game.) Water balloon fights. Dancing contests in the rain. Etc. Etc.
I'm also going to be nurturing the things I am good at. They aren't physical. But its stuff I do for me. As I do and share that stuff, as I do the exercises in the book, fingers crossed that all these elements line up and I find that ever elusive thing called peace.
I like your list. TV is already eliminated. We don't watch it. Movies are 97% kid centered or educational. There are no beauty guru or girly magazines in our home. I don't need to see the month workout routines or "100 things to please your man" laying around.
The idea of eliminating certain words is appealing. Might get the whole family involved on that.
Mirrors. *shudder* Enough to make my hair presentable and that is it.
Like I said previously, I know QS accepts me. I accept that he accepts me. I just to have to do it for myself now. I don't want my hangups to come between us. Kwim? And I don't feel pressure to rush this or hurry the process. He's stuck with my crazy this long. I don't doubt he won't continue to do so.
Thanks for the help y'all.