Thursday, October 22, 2009

My body, My relationship...

(This is one of those post that you hit publish and you feel open and naked to the world because you have just revealed something completely personal).

"You need to stop putting yourself down. You look great, you should be thankful for what you DO have." (At this point in my mind I roll my eyes and think "yea right I look great, do they want for me to compliment them back?")

I get told this

I really
really wish I could.

I wish I could make my mind see what other people see. I wish I loved my body as much as my husband does. I
WISH I didn't compare myself to people on magazines because in my mind I KNOW it is the expertise of someone who is really good at Photoshop.

I wish I was okay with how my body looked.

And I do go through phases where I give myself the right affirmations every morning… that if I tell myself enough that I am beautiful and Gosh Darnit people
like me my body that I will actually believe it, but those are short lived and I go back to seeing my body the way I see it.

Image taken from HERE

You have to know that I naturally come by a very competitive personality. In this respect, the respect of body image, I'm ALWAYS comparing myself to others. I can blame some of it on media, showing us women that are extra skinny but have great boobs or women that have these shapely bodies and NO cottage cheese or fat to speak of. Sure it may start with that. Maybe it was that in middle school I was put on fat pills by my Mom, I could blame her for it, but I begged her to let me.

If you were to ask me about my body growing up, this is a good example of what I might say to you:

"A short history I grew up dancing. I was always taller than most of the girls. So therefore my body frame was bigger. I have always had a waist, which to me, made me think my hips were to big. I just needed to lose those last '5 pounds'. Then I started my period and on came what REALLY is described as hips and boobs. I hated my breasts! I was a dancer and not the type of dancer where big breasts were beneficial! So I would double up on bra's and sucked in a bit more.

Then my freshmen year of high school I had ANOTHER growth spurt and then I was too skinny! All legs. And my hips disappeared. I had NO shape. I wasn't happy about that either! I remember the next year after I made the high school dance team we had a summer swimming party and I went to go flip off the diving board (I also dabbled in gymnastics) and one of the Senior girls yelled, 'Get some meat on your legs!' I took that as the worst kind of criticsm. I was so self conscious of my legs after that. You see, no matter HOW much I ate I never could gain weight because I danced all.of.the timw, early in the morning, after school, sometimes during school. It was my life. My short shorts didn't look as good on me because I had chicken legs and my friends had these nice shapely legs.,"

I wasn't big enough, I wasn't small enough. I was and am never satisfied. I don't know if I ever will be.

My husband gave me a few years of reprieve. I have never felt so beautiful as the time from when I first met him until I had my first child. I mean, I got attention from guys growing up, but I always looked at them as friendships and couldn't imagine them thinking of me as anything but a friend. He made me
FEEL beautiful, I don't know why it was different, but it was, at first. He made me feel of worth the way I was. Ya know that song by Jessica Simpson, "With You" that is exactly how I felt and I rode on his confidence of me for a while.

It was really good for our relationship. The sexier I felt the more he "
got some". It was incredible to feel that way.

Then I had my first child. I lost my sense of sexiness. I felt huge and even though I am one of the girls that says, "
I LOVED pregnancy" because I loved the energy and how I felt. I did not however, feel sexy, especially when the stretch marks started making an appearance (I do have to say that before I was pregnant I didn't have stretch marks, anywhere...sigh)… which was a downer on our sex life, and that happens to be the part of our relationship that my husband really needs. Nine months he endured, "not feeling it baby" or "maybe after the baby is born". I was NOT one of those women that pregnancy HELPED those hormones AT.ALL.

After the baby it was worse. I didn't slim right down like I should have. I'm sure it was those cravings during pregnancy of late night Wendy's runs and those kids meals I got. Either way, I was not back to my pre baby self and it effected me greatly and my desire to do anything when it came to bedroom play.

For someone that already had a hard time thinking herself beautiful before stretch marks and weight gain it was worse after all of that.

It effects our marriage because I'm always saying something about it. He's a guy, he doesn't care, he still says I'm beautiful--but it irritates him to hear me complain about it. As much as I know this, I can't help it. I try to hold my tongue, but when we are in bed being intimate and he touches me somewhere where I can "feel" the fat… I freeze up. I hate it. Instant mood killer for me.

Even when I complain about it he never says, "
well DO something about it" or "You can't say that and then eat that snickers bar fatty!"

My husband can tell me how beautiful I am, how sexy he thinks I am, he can adore my body with his mouth and hands, but if I can't see it… if I'm not feeling that way… it doesn’t matter, he can compliment me until h blue in the face but my mind still says, "
Well he has to say that."

About 4 years ago I got sick of talking about it and decided it was time to do something about it. I began working out. That did
LOADS of good. Each pound that came off… came a little more sex drive and in turn helped our relationship, but you undo years and years of horrible body image in four years time.

I have realized that each time I start to say a negative
that I should turn around and make it a positive. I try to push the thoughts aside and not say as much out loud because I have a daughter and I want to be a good example for her. I don’t want her to struggle with her body image as I have. I want her to see a strong women who eats right and is active who feels blessed for having a body that can do that kind of stuff. So that is what I have been attempting to do and be… for myself, for my relationship, but mostly for her.

Like an addict it is an everyday struggle. It isn't easy for me. Everyday I get up and make myself be active. Everyday I am presented with choices on what to eat and I try to choose the healthy stuff…
but sometimes I slip up. Everyday I see something that I hate about my body, that if "this was gone" then I would be happy… and I try to push it away before it becomes a full-eating-away-at-me thought. I realize that I HAVE to do this everyday for the rest of my life.

Because old habits are hard to break and in silence I still can never measure up.

So does your body image effect your relationship? Does it effect all relationships or just the one with your partner? What are YOUR suggestions on how to work through years and years of bad body image?


Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

BTW everyone, I am not fishing for anything. This is truly me, in my mind.

Lol kind of pathetic, but I'm working on it. Baby steps...

Goob said...

Every morning I wake up thinking and feeling like I look like a super hot athletic chick...then I look in the mirror and see the 60 lbs overweight late 30 something woman I really am. Its depressing. But my body image, which is completely negative, shadowed by a mother who would ask me "are you sure?" if I said I would prefer a whole sandwich over a half, and a grandmother who never weighed more then 98 lbs (pregnant!)has never gotten in the way of my ability to enjoy my husband. Maybe its because we are about equally out of shape, so I feel that we are physically on par. I dunno.

Susan said...

Shelle, I LOVE this post. Only because I feel the exact same way so often. We are our own worst critics. And I already watch my girls growing up, hoping, praying that they don't go through life with the constant battle of feeling like they don't look thin enough, or tall enough, or whatever enough.

It's cyclical for so many... you work out, lose weight, or just tone up and things are better. We all know exercise and giving time to ourselves enhances self confidence. We don't even look different on the outside - but we FEEL better on the inside, and with that comes more fun, more sex, more laughs, more everything.

And then we fall off the wagon. I'm there right now. And it's so hard to get back on. Thankfully I have a husband that will remind me all the time how he feels about me. Yet still, when you're on a low, it's hard to take those words to heart.

Suggestons on working through years and years of negative body image?? I'm not sure...I think the biggest thing is being older and knowing whats most important in life. And that even the thinnest, tallest, most gorgeous people can be miserable with low self esteem...

How did we as women get to this place?????

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

COTCH-- I envy you. I honestly honestly do.

Susan--i think now in my life I don't dwell on it as much because I do try to keep what's most important to me in the forefront of my mind, but its always back there, waiting and lurking, sneaking up on me when I feel, as you so appropriately stated, that I have "fallen off the wagon".

Danielle said...

I completely get you. I used to compete in figure competitions. It is a very unhealthy, unrealistic way to live. You get down to 6% body fat with muscle. I was "perfect". But you stop having periods, the minute you do start eating normal you pack on the weight, etc.
Now, I guess that I am normal and yet I always feel fat. I know what I used to look like and I hate the "me now" look. People say I look great, but I just don't see it.
I think it affects all aspects of my life when I feel "fat"
It is a daily stuggle like you said.

Kate said...

i thought i was reading something I had written a while back in my own journal - more women feel this way than we know, i think.
The way I see my own body totally effects my relationship with my husband. I know he loves me how I am, but it still doesnt make it any easier in my own mind when I have to look at my self in the mirror. It is very hard to undo years of that type of thinking. I also started going to the gym again and that has helped me tremendously!

I dont have any advise, i am just here to say - HEY - that's me too! Thanks for posting this!

Nolens Volens said...

Thanks for that...I didn't always understand why my lover would suddenly go from loving and affectionate and in the mood to..."I am tired" or "I don't feel okay". I suspected body image issues. I hate my stomach and I *want* to work out, but I am never allowed time to do just that. My wife wants time with me after work. My younger daughter needs me in the morning and afternoon. My older daughter needs me in the afternoon. Agh.

jess said...

Being pregnant and watching things grow and change and knowing that I have no control has been the hardest thing for me! I still hope that the scale (by some miracle) goes down when I go to the doctor every month ;).. I cried (like seriously) when I saw the appearance of my first stretch mark.. In the middle of intimacy I sometimes catch a glimpse of my less-than-toned- self and it's really hard to stay "in the mood" I love being pregnant but I dream already about what I am going to do to lose the weight... Thanks for helping me understand that I am not alone!!

SciFi Dad said...

My wife has issues with this. I tell her she's beautiful, but she often casts my compliments aside.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Danielle- that is the perfect way to say it, I don't like the me now. But if I'm completely honest, the me back then wasn't happy with me back then.

Kate-thanks! That is the best thing about women, they know even though they can't fix it, they can sympathize!
It will be nice to show my husband this and say SEE I'm not the only one!?

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Nolens-i hear you on time. I don't have that option. I make myself get up one hour earlier or go to bed one hour later if I need to. But just eating well goes a long way. But guys just don't have to really care as much, they go from hunka hunka to adorable, but still cute no matter what. Women are just fat or thin :)

Jess- yep totally understand. Its hard to imagine sexy when you can see yourself nothing but pregnant in your mind. But that is key, just exercise as soon as you can and it will come off:)

SciFi-its what we do. We see the medias definition of beautiful and we see what our minds see of us in the mirror and its unbelievable that you would think that, to us anyway.

Anjeny said...

Gee Shelle, if a hot babe like you is struggling with her image like this then we ugly ducklings are in serious trouble.

Seriously Shelle, you are too beautiful to be worrying about how you look. Media has been playing with women's mind since it was invented.

I will say that I do understand where you're coming from even this is not a problem for me, I mean sure, I've gained a few more pounds than I care to since the last baby but I just refuse to waiste my time stressing out about it. I feel like there are so many things(good things) I can miss out on if I spend too much of my time worrying about any part of my body that I feel that by the time I get my body image in the form I'm happy with (which might never happen, there will always be some part of my body I won't like, don't like the color of my eyes, my breasts are too big or I'm too short, blah blah blah), life would pass me right up and I miss out on what's most important, kwim?

I think that we women are usually very hard on ourselves and we tend to have a really unrealistic measuring stick that we are constantly measuring ourselves with that makes us just constantly comparing ourselves to others and not satisfied with who we are.

To answer your questions...does my body image effect my relationship, all relationships or the one with my partner? That's a definite no. I like to think that my hubby didn't marry me for my looks only but for my mind, my personality and so forth. I'm sorry if my answer or comment may not be what you are looking for but it is what it is.

Thanks for putting yourself out there...I admire your courage and I hope that in your quest to work on your body image, you will find the true you and love and like every part of what make you YOU. I can honestly say that I am really fortunate to meet someone like you whose not only drop dead gorgous but is witty, smart, whose very passionate about her belief, a loving wife and mom and a true friend to all she meets and I will be even more grateful and happy to have the pleasure of meeting your in real life.

Margaret said...

This is exactly how I feel. I am finding that the harder I try the worse I end up feeling about myself. Now I don't have the luxery of being able to work out very much because of the MS but I do try to and nothing ever seems to come of it. I have give up lately and started to try and not compare myself to others. This isn't easy because well my best friend is stick thin so I am always reminded of just how big I think I am. She try's to make me see differently but it just doesn't happen for me. I guess all I am going to do is try harder and know in time that I will feel better about myself and maybe one day I will be skinny.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I'm bawling right now. A little va-klemped... I'm going to need a minute to compose myself.

Thanks Anjeny. Thank you so much.

I'll be back.

Missty said...

I think all of us women have had this struggle. Man, having kids is killer on our bodies. lol But, it seems over time, I have gotten better with myself.

Maybe its - I am older now? Things that use to bother me don't now? I am more comfortable with my body? I don't know, But I know I am much happier with my body and my life than I have ever been.

Also its great to know - we are DONE having kids, so my body won't be going down that road again. lol

And I think it helps to really listen to the men - they do love our bodies... stretch marks and all. (badge of courage)

Its hard to take a compliment, so practice saying thank you. I have really tried to do that. Don't say No, I have fat thighs or whatever.

Tracie said...

Oh boy do I have issues.

Just Jules said...

I was just discussing this with hubby. He said I looked skinny in a picture, and I snapped - "I am skinny" and he stopped, turned, and look at me, and said "I know" But... but.. I thought that you thought I wasn't... I say...

ha! he says... etc.

Not only do I have a poor body image but I reflect this back on what other people say to me and think about me. I even assume that they are thinking negatively about me.

It totally effects my relationship and my "mood" for lovin' if you will. This whole issue sucks and needs to go away! Women are beautiful for all sorts of reasons but be it in our brains at birth or advertising that gets us - women (and a bunch of men I know) have poor self images.

Anonymous said...

Yes my body seems to affect our relationship. For some reason it causes chicks to fling their underthings in my direction and evidently my bride is against that for some reason.

Anonymous said...

I think all women think those same things.
I know if the bride is "feeling fat today" she ain't gonna be down for the hokie pokie! She will mind you but she won't be all in.

I don't it really cause I think by and large guys would prefer 10 pounds over than 10 pounds under. Its more about proportion for me. I mean if a chick is a size 1 and has 87DDDDDD tata's then that doesn't look to sporty.

The stretch marks and soft spots and those things don't matter to me either. If a guy likes you better because you look like a teenager then he has the issues not you. I want a grown ass woman myself. All that said the bride is of average size and proportional so it isn't much of an issue here but she sweats the c-sect scar and stuff like that that I could absolutely care less about. I try to keep my weight around 250 so folks don't think I'm a sissy.

stupid smart girl said...

Amen Shelle. I wish there was some sort of surgery where they could go in, open up my brain, and fix that part that hates the way I look. My husband loves my body, so why can't I? How to undo a lifetime of negative conditioning is beyond me. Has anyone anywhere had success at this?

The Bare Essentials Today said...

Great post Shelle.I struggle with this on a daily person. I don't understand why it's such a struggle for people (and by people I mean me ;) to be able to love themselves the way they are or to believe it when someone else says you are pretty, sexy, etc. I think that this has alot to do with me being single. I tend to shy away because I think I'm too fat, too ugly, etc. And I need to learn to move past this and love me for who I am. I am a great person with a lot to offer and once I realize that, things will be much easier!