Posted by: Marie | July 23, 2012

(674) Unfamiliar territory – Part 3 of 5

Post #674
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]

———————-

(There was another lull in the conversation and Edward asked if I had anything else I wanted to talk about . . . )

Me: No . . . and, I didn’t prepare an agenda, either. I’m still trusting you to take care of the agenda . . .

Edward: Great! Thank you for trusting me to do that!

The topic I have in mind has to do with your relationships with men . . . more specifically, what is the healthiest way you can show up in those relationships . . .

Is that something you feel comfortable talking about today?

Me: Oh, sure!

(As he said that, I felt my body relaxing a bit . . . he just handed me one more piece of evidence showing that I can trust him to proactively lead us wherever we need to go. It feels really good to have that evidence . . . to have evidence he is worthy of my trust.)

Photo by Martin Chen

Edward: Okay . . . good . . .

Let’s start with this . . . what do you think attracts a man to a particular woman? What do you think men want?

Me: I’m assuming you mean in a romantic sense . . ??

Edward: Sure, let’s start there.

Me: Well, the obvious stuff, you know . . .

Edward: No, I don’t know . . . please tell me . . .

Me: I think they want a sexy woman . . . skinny, energetic, smells good, shaved legs, not wearing frumpy clothes . . . always ready and passionately willing to have sex . . .

Edward: What has caused you to come to that conclusion?

Me: It comes from personal experience . . . and male friends . . . and my brother . . . my brother talked about the women with whom he had affairs like they were meat . . .

During the time I was engaged/married, I gained ten pounds. My husband told me that he was withdrawing his affection – meaning that, in his mind, we were no longer married, just housemates – until I lost the ten pounds I had gained during the time I knew him. He said I had to eat better, get more exercise . . . take better care of myself . . . then, and only then would he consider us to be husband and wife again.

Oh . . . and, he also wanted me to have smaller boobs and to dye my hair blond . . . and he wished I was taller and had a thinner bone structure . . .

———————-

I stopped talking for a moment because I was thinking about how my husband had told me our problems were my fault . . . because I had represented myself to him while we were dating as someone who had her “act together” when it came to health and physical fitness. Then, after we were married, he discovered that was not the case. He felt I had deceived him.

As the years have passed, I realized he was correct. It is true that I have always wanted to be healthy and fit and physically active, but I have never been able to consistently make that a core part of my lifestyle. I wanted him to believe it was already a core part of my lifestyle and then I wanted to hurry up and get my act together before he discovered that was not the case. I wasn’t able to pull it off.

And for most of my adult life, because I’ve not been totally healthy, fit and physically active, I’ve not felt “attractive enough”.

———————-

Edward: (Gently breaking into my thoughts) Marie, if that is what you think men want, then you are not ready to date.

Me: I agree that I’m not ready to date! I gave up on dating a long time ago.

Edward: (Hand on heart) Ouch! That hurts my heart!

(After a respectful pause) Before you gave up on dating, where did you look for men?

Me: In bars. I’d get drunk and look for someone to pay me some little spattering of attention.

Edward: Do you still do that?

Me: No, I haven’t done that for many years . . . I haven’t looked for men in bars for many years, I haven’t had a one-night stand in many years . . . I haven’t looked for men, period, for many years . . .

Like I said, I’ve given up on dating – so why bother looking . . . ??

Edward: Tell me more about that . . .

Me: I struggle to have hope about dating . . . I find it very hard to believe that any quality man would be interested in me . . . I want to have hope, but it is tough.

Edward: Do you think I’m interested in you?

Me: (Deep breath, slow exhale) Yes.

Edward: Am I a quality man?

Me: (Little grin) Yes, of course!

But . . . a lot of men are interested in me . . . in a superficial way . . . and there are men who really care about me . . . like you . . . but you don’t have to date me . . . you don’t have to share a home life with me . . . you don’t have to have sex with me . . .

The difference is that no quality man is willing to date me.

Edward: What do you mean?

Me: I can put on a good act . . . well, I guess I can’t hide the fact I’ve overweight . . . but, even if I got all skinny and got in better shape, it wouldn’t make a difference. I might catch a man’s attention for a while, but once he got to know me, he would realize he doesn’t want to date me. So, we might date for a while, but then he would bail.

Edward: Why would he bail?

Me: Because I have too many problems. No man wants to stick around and deal with all my problems – it’s easier for a man to give up on me and go find some other woman who doesn’t have so many problems.

(Edward didn’t say anything for a few moments, he just watched me carefully. Then, he spoke . . . )

Edward: Do you think I’m going to give up on you?

Me: No . . . I’ve learned to trust that you aren’t going anywhere.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Responses

  1. OMG. You think your husband was correct? Over ten pounds, a skinny frame, and blonde hair? He has a bizarre notion of what is beautiful and it makes me so sad that you are buying into it. There is so, so, so much more to beauty… and I think, at it’s core, it comes down to loving and believing and seeing the beauty in oneself. God made us in all sizes, colours, and shapes, with all kinds of mental and physical health challenges, too. I have never met you, but I see so much beauty in you. So much. And that has everything to do with how you express yourself, how much you care for the kids you teach, and how hard you are working to overcome trauma in therapy. To me that is beautiful. C.

    • Hey, OBD –

      Thank you so much for standing up for me! Your words are so kind!

      The good news is that I agree with you . . . I always have agreed with what you are saying . . . beauty shows up in so many different forms. And, I can see the beauty in myself.

      The bad news is that my life experiences have taught me that no man will ever want to be with me (in the romantic partner sense) unless my physical beauty meets some pretty high standards . . . regardless what other forms of beauty I might have to offer.

      I wish it were as easy as snapping my fingers to shift that belief. But, it is not. That belief is so deeply engrained in my core beliefs that I haven’t been able to shift it despite years of therapy.

      So, while I continue to enjoy being seen and heard and appreciated by people in general, I still do not believe it is possible for me to enjoy a romantic partnership unless I get my physical beauty in shape . . . and I have little hope that will ever happen. So, I’m still stuck in that mindset . . . well, there have been some small shifts since this journal entry was written, but nothing life changing.

      Does that make sense?

      – Marie

  2. I do know how hard it is to shift this feeling. I would say up until I had my intensive trauma treatment last year (the 4 month daily program) I felt that there was something essentially “bad” or “damaged” about me… and if that was true, who could be with me, in an authentic way, if i let them see it. Sure I have dated over the years, with some serious relationships, but I have never settled down for the long run. And I think that it was that belief that was holding me back. Since the treatment, I have let go of that core belief. I wonder if, as you continue to heal from trauma, that self-image will shift.

    As for “good guys” … you have found some through your online friends, and in your therapist, and in your students parents (the firefighter).. sure they are “off limits” or already taken, but I hope they show you that there are honourable, kind, and interesting men out there.

    • Hey, OBD –

      I really appreciate your input on this . . . it is encouraging to me to hear your progress!

      I have met some really neat guys who are treating me very well. I think it is a big deal that I’m able to participate in emotionally intimate relationships even at that level!

      – Marie


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