Sunday, July 19, 2009

Self Image

It's so funny, the way I feel about myself right now. As if 5 years of pregnancy wasn't enough to make you question your looks and physique (although, I guess the plus would be that I apparently looked decent enough to keep getting knocked up...small consolation), finding out your husband has become interested in someone else is kind of the death knoll to feeling good about your body image. I mean, I know in my head that this didn't happen because I wasn't pretty enough, or in good enough shape. I get that, as these things go, I've been very blessed to be able to still be the same size I was before my first baby. But in my heart, I feel ugly.

Which is interesting, because I had a rough time in middle school...I was gangly, awkward, I would literally spend nights praying that my legs would be less skinny, or my hair would behave itself, or that I would, at some point, have boobs. Let me tell you, it wasn't looking promising.

Finally, towards the end of high school, my prayers were answered and the tables turned for me, and by the time I graduated, confident would have been too kind a word for how I viewed myself. I knew that I was pretty, I knew the guys liked me, and I took advantage of that whenever possible.

Looks were a huge part of my life. In college, I worked for Abercrombie & Fitch, and before I knew it I was a manager. I can't even tell you the ego boost that gave me...to be in charge of the store that hired people based on looks. I was incredibly young to be in charge of anyone, and most of the kids I hired as reps were my own age. The other managers in the store were all older than I was. It was a heady, and difficult position. I had to be very, very firm to get anything done. To put it bluntly, I had to be a bitch if I wanted anyone to listen.

One day I was conducting a group interview, and a couple of guys came waltzing in wanting jobs. One was a total surfer boy and I knew he'd have more luck at Hollister. The other was tall, dark, and handsome, perfect for my store. Beyond that cursory examination, I didn't pay either one much attention. They were both hired on and started working at both my store and Hollister, and they were like most of the other 18-19 year olds at the store. They thought they were much better looking than they were, and they had terrible pick up lines.

They both made it a point to hit on me whenever possible, but the tall, dark one was the worst. He would think of any excuse to bother me, telling me "I just had to come down one more time so I could see those beautiful eyes." He offered to work when and wherever, and started working a lot of overnights with us, when we rearranged the store into the early morning hours. He was tenacious, and annoying.

One night, I was dressing a form (mannequin) on a table, and he came up to me as a song began playing inthe store. "Do you know this song?" He asked me. It was John Mayer's Your Body is a Wonderland. I nodded my head, wondering why he wasn't working. "Well, I just learned to play it on the guitar, and every time I do, I think about you." He said, very matter of factly.

"Can you go do some work, please?" I answered, shaking my head.

It didn't stop there. He informed me later that he was going to marry me, that I was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen, that it was just a matter of time. He knew he could get fired by dating me, so he was secretive. He gave me a blank post it note, telling me that it meant he was thinking of me, and from then on, everywhere I went were post its. I would walk into my office and find them plastered to the computer, the phone, the walls. I would go to my car and find them covering my windshield. Somehow,and to this day I have no idea how,  he wore me down, even though I had never before been tempted to date an employee.

Finally after a month or so, I caved, and we went on a date. That date stretched into a weekend, as we took off on the spur of the moment to take a road trip to Canada. And that...was all she wrote. I told my mom that he was the nicest guy I'd ever met. He told me he loved me after I passed the most important of his tests...whether or not his cat liked me. He made me feel pretty, gorgeous, special. I felt like, no matter what happened, no matter what we went through, that he would always, always love me.

It was serious from the beginning, and we were engaged the next year. We went through ups and downs, of course, but it all happened just like he said it would that night at the store. I married him on the beach at sunset, and he laughed as he very kindly said "I told you so!"

So the thing is, I know how good John can make someone feel. I know how I always felt around him, like he lived to make me feel good. Looking back at the past several months, I realize I haven't felt like that around him, and I was so busy I didn't notice, or thought he was tired, or that we'd been married a while. I tried not to let it bother me. Not I get it more...that you can really only make one person feel that special, and he was making someone feel that way, just not me.

It's funny, because before he came along, I felt great about myself. His attention just made me feel even better, like I was perfect. His leaving shouldn't have taken my self esteem, but it has. I can't help thinking  what if he doesn't come back? Who will want me? It's silly, because I don't want anyone but him, but still, I think...my goodness, I would send guys running the other direction! I am 27 years old and I feel like I'll never be attractive again. That might be the worst part about this whole thing. I know I've always put too much emphasis on looks, and maybe this is teaching me a lesson. I don't know. But my husband always made me feel beautiful, and it feels like when he left he took that with him, too.

I completely understand if you all start dropping like flies. I know I am depressing and very one note right now. If you have suggestions for something else to write about, let me know and I'll do it. When my mind is left to wander, though, this is where I end up. Thanks for putting up with me.

35 comments:

BeLoVed AiMeE said...

it's your blog you write whatever you need to. I have no advice really. When my husband cheated on me I felt so undesirable. I couldn't believe that he would do that to me. HE loved me so much, HE pursued me, HE controlled me, HE was the one always begging ME to stay. And then he did it anyway. Some things we can never make sense of. We just learn and move on the best we can. Praying for you hon <3

Erin said...

We are here to listen and try and be supportive. This is your blog and its a great place to get your feelings out and to get things written down! I am sure you feel some relief once you write things down and get them off your chest!

Thinking about you!

You are still beautiful!!

Me said...

I don't think your readers will be dropping. We've all come to know and love YOU thru this blog, as well as your amazing and lovely children.

As Erin said, we're here to do our darnedest to be supportive.

I hope you find the beautiful in yourself again, El. You're an amazing, lovely person.

Shaina N said...

Sweetie, this is a blog... It's like a diary. You write what you need to WHEN you need to... and right now, you need to write about what's happening in your life. This is your life right now, and God has a plan for you, even though I know you can't see it, nor do you want too... but maybe through your writing, you'll touch someone, somehow. This is what you need, and I will be here for you! I haven't been reading for long (just RIGHT before Seth got the implants) but I still feel connected to you.

Love, in Christ,
Sending many prayers,
Shaina

Lynne Piper said...

Hi El:

Dittos on I doubt your readers will be dropping like flies. You have such a vulnerable way of communicating. This is a lesson to all of us on how fragile marriage is and how quickly things can derail. It seems in my life that this type of thing is happening all around.

I pray that John finds out soon enough that another person eventually means just different problems. I've seen it lived out many times in my Dad's life and others around me.

Also, its natural that your posts would be about your marriage because that is clearly front and center in your life right now. Let us know if there is something we can do to help you. You're in my prayers.


Keep going, El, keep going.

Lynne
Houston, TX

Taking Heart said...

Though it may not feel like it... God is doing a good work in you right now. He loves you so much it hurts.

Your writing is very edgy and real... vulnerable. I appreciate a writer who has depth... emotion... flaws... beauty. The fact that you share your heart like that is very endearing.

It's easy to write about what makes us happy. It is brave to write about what is hard... and especially what brings us to our knees.

You are brave. Your courage will touch people. Your courage is touching people.

I pray you know that.

Following Him said...

I will not leave just because of one down post. Everyone, including those BIG time bloggers, has down days and needs a little encouraging. HE hears our troubles and is right beside us! HE hears our prayers and will comfort us when we need it. HE will be by your side each step of the way.
LOVE & HUGS,
~Elyse

Sassy said...

El, I am with everyone else when I say write whatever you feel you need too! As much as I doubt your readers will "drop like flies" bottom line...who cares? This blog is about you and is here for YOU, to help you through what your going through. And truthfully if some people cannot handle reading what you're going through then they're not people you would want around you right now anyway.

As far as self image, I think it is completely understandable with what you are going through. Even without all the stress with the marriage, being pregnant alone can sometimes make a woman feel unattractive. Just know that the way you are seeing yourself right now is NOT the way we all see you! You are beautiful inside and out and John's poor choices would never ever change that!

With love,
Sassy

6hebrons said...

I found you a couple days ago... And ur blog has changed me. I am a mom to 4 and I know at any time things can change. Your husband did what he did --- you did not will him to do it. He didn't make u beautiful -- u r beautiful -- because of who u r. But right now u r allowd to have these feelings... Because u r greiving for what u had, and some day u will look back and see all that has come of this. I pray for u and ur family and even John. Godbless u and thank you for being so open and writing so well.
Michelle

Melissa said...

You are gorgeous, both inside and out. I've been reading your blog for a while, your love for your children, and your love for God is inspiring. I know things are hard right now, but remember, God knows the bigger picture, he knows whats going to happen. And no matter what, it has to be better than this. I will keep praying for all of you to get through this, and that you'll regain some of your self esteem. You are an incredible woman, don't forget that.

Emily said...

First of all, El, it is your blog and you can write about whatever the heck you want to! As real and "virtual" friends it is our job to listen, be supportive, offer advice when we can and when you want it, and most importantly pray for your family.
Secondly, you're not "supposed" to feel anyway. You just feel. And that's OK. I can relate to how you're feeling. I knew, before I was married and had kids, that I was hot and I always used it to my advantage. After three kids, I have tons of stretch marks, saggy boobs, and a tummy pouch that no amount of sit up and no amount of miles run can make go away! I struggle with feeling ugly daily. Honestly, I think there are few women on this planet that don't and that's sad. But it does show you that you're not alone. And while this is a lot easier to say than to believe, it's still true. True beauty is on the inside. And you're a beautiful on the inside and the out!

Anonymous said...

El,

Just remember that God made you in HIS image, and nothing will ever change that!!

Praying for you,
Laura W.
North Ga.

I am Trish Marie said...

First, this is your place, and you should be able to talk about what you need to talk about. Right now, it is this.

Second, I completely went through this. Everything you are saying, could have been me.

I am sorry you are feeling this way right now. It is a tough thing to go through. Hopefully it helps to know that others have been there, and it does get better.

Sonya said...

You write about whatever you want. Your faithful readers won't desert you because you are going through a hard time. We are here to help and to listen and maybe offer advice.

K Mommy said...

I'm gonna support and pray for you no matter what you write. God has a plan for you, and your husband and your kids. God's plan will play out in time. Just keep praying.

Chin up,

Karmen

Callie said...

I have recently started reading your blog and I really appreciate your willingness to be honest and vulnerable. It is a true testimony of how the Lord is working in your heart and in your life.

Here is a glimpse of my insight...

When I was 18 my dad passed away unexpectedly. Prior to that I had always been very confident. As I grieved my dad's death one of the things that I learned and saw, was how much I missed being "Daddy's Princess." My dad had constantly affirmed who I was. He told me he loved me. He told me I was beautiful, smart, a woman after God's own heart. Once he died I didn't have that same affirmation. Of course the Lord placed incredible people in my life to remind me of those things (including my wonderful mother) but for me it still wasn't the same. I began to question myself. Question my beauty, my intelligence, my heart for the Lord.

I remember going to the cemetery one day and just sat at my dad's grave and sobbed. I felt the Lord say to me, that while my dad believed all those things about me to be true - he was really the Lord's tool to remind me of my worth and that my worth - my beauty, intelligence, godliness, was truly found through God.

It was such a startling realization. A realization that the Lord was using my earthly father to communicate truths about myself that were from my Heavenly Father.

It took a long time to learn to look to the Lord to affirm who I was. To affirm my beauty, my intelligence and my heart.

I am not sure if that resonates with you at all.

But it's just my experience.

Your beauty, your worth, is found in the Lord. Your husband is merely an earthly tool to communicate how your Heavenly Father sees you and created you.

My prayers are with you.

Callie

Momof2bz said...

Hi El,

I'm not going to drop you. We have all been there at one time of our life. The most important thing (and I hope you have your ears on) is that you have to know that confidence comes from within. You have to believe that you are beautiful. You are stunning and I am sure that even with 3 children in tow that you still turn heads. Even if John is gone, you are still beautiful. No one can take that from you!

I know it's hard right now and you want to think poor me, why did he leave me, what did I do wrong, etc. I am sure that there were things that you could have done differently but the truth is just like John shouldn't assume that you knew things were off, you shouldn't depend on your well-being from someone else. We are all here to support you. Start with baby steps and stand up. Stand up for yourself, your babies and your life. Even if John doesn't smarten up, you are worth more. You are smart, beautiful, capable and able to do it all by yourself. Even if you didn't have to do it, you totally could. Now you just have to start showing the world.

BTW, I totally believe that you are due this mourning time. You lost an important part of your life but don't allow the evil of it all to win. You and the kids deserve a good life.

Sherri said...

El,

I know some of what you're feeling and felt these things when my husband left. I strongly recommend reading James Dobson's "Love must be Tough"....it deals a lot with marital relationships, separation and infidelity. I needed the wake up call it gave me into the Godly response we are to have when our spouses cheat.

FYI, about a year after my husband left me, he called me at work sobbing about the mistake he had made and he ended up trying to take his life. The grass is NOT greener on the other side....he realized the other woman was not perfect either, and what he had given up-his wife, child, friends, extended family. It wasn't worth it but unfortunately it was too late for us...the damage was done (and there was more than infidelity) and thankfully God had placed a man in my life whose heart is for serving Jesus. But it never stops hurting because he was my husband.

Praying for you and your family and John.

Sherri
Dylan's mom

Shanda said...

I think it is normal to question everything about yourself when the person that has known and loved you more than anyone else (at least seemingly) leaves you. I have been there before; probably many of us have. It is a gradual process to accept the fact that yes, you are not perfect; but that you do have beauty and worth to offer.

God is drawing you back to His perfect love El. He is the best one to reveal your true worth and the purpose for which you were designed to you. You ARE beautiful both inside and out.

Draw close to Him - He will draw close to you!

HUGS!!

Shanda

writing4612 said...

Just don't focus on the negative for too long. It only leads to trouble. Even if John has left, God still loves you for YOU. Not just when you have makeup on or your hair is brushed just so. He loves you when your stressed and in your PJs. :)

It says in Philipians 4 verse 8

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Think on good things. You're beautiful, Ellen. The devil wants to steal your joy, your peace, and whatever else he can think of.

You WILL make it! This didn't catch God by surprise!

writing4612 said...

I also forgot to say that my mom felt worthless when her and my dad divorced(even though it was under very different circumstances than yours). He abused her with his words and actions.

It took her heart a LONG time to heal, but it did. She gave all of her cares, frustrations, and feelings over to God. She's now back and better than ever!

Jenny said...

Hi El,

I found your blog through Hearing Journey; I was on that site because I have been deaf since birth and finally decided to get a cochlear implant in my mid-thirties. Landing on your site was a complete accident. But your story and your unique voice have me coming back time and again, just to see how you are doing and what you have to say.

I am so sorry that you are suffering so much right now, and wish I could help in a concrete way. All I have are a few hopes for you. I hope that you will allow the people who love you and are near you right now to embrace you and help you. I hope you remember every day, and are proud of what you are giving to all of your children and especially to Seth. I have a mother who fought for me with every fiber of her being to make sure I had every opportunity to succeed in life despite being deaf. I can see that you are doing the same for Seth, and you remind me of my mother and what she did for me. You are making a profound, positive difference in the life of your profoundly Seth every day; never forget that!

And finally, I hope you will keep writing - about your life and anything else you want. On this blog, and maybe elsewhere too? Maybe a story to take you out of your own world for awhile and into another world you create? You don't have to show it to anyone unless you want to, but writing even just for yourself can be so healing. You're a wonderful writer already - embrace it!

Take care of yourself,

Jenny - a stranger who cares

Mandy and Jack said...

From the moment I started reading your blog you've captivated me with your love for your family and your love for the Lord. Yes, I noticed that you're a beautiful woman from the picture on the sidebar of your blog, but to be honest, most of your posts are read in Google Reader, so I don't see your face most of the time. What I do see is your inner beauty, and no matter how you feel about your outward appearance, you're a treasure, set apart by God and beautiful.

Debbie said...

I am so sorry you are going through this. I hope you have some sort of support system to help you...other than all of your readers. I too, went through this, so I know exactly how you feel. If ever you need to talk, let me know.

Cathy said...

Um, who would ever say you weren't beautiful? They would be crazy. Anyway, beauty comes from a spirit given from God. I've been in Florida for a week and just read all your last posts. I think being "Bellafied" is a great way to describe it. I could feel the pain in her as I read and could imagine the strength it took to take the next breath. I hate that you are hurting like that. I am praying that your family will be restored, but also that you will find comfort for the next thing. I know you don't feel like doing anything that requires more energy than you have to use for the children. Just try to take care of yourself, too.
You WILL be okay. God has you in His hand.

LMarie said...

Sometimes I think about you in the middle of the day and I wish I could take all your pain away. So I pray for you. When J and I were separating I was so jealous of you and the family you have and how beautiful you are. I would think to myself I can see how so many people love her. So I prayed to be more like you. And even though I am not jealous anymore I still think your a wonder to this place. And you amaze me with your talent as a writer and a mother, and yet still stay as beautiful as you are. Its ok to feel what you feel. I know I was pregnant when I found out Khis dad cheated on me and we separated. So I'll do for you what my friends and family did for me. I'll pray for you. And I commend you for keeping your faith in God and his many wonders. And el, you dont have to tank me for listening, and from the sounds of it you have love across the globe praying and rooting for ya!

Kara said...

You are beautiful, inside and out. You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. And while outer beauty may not be all that matters, our perception of ourselves definitely plays a HUGE role in our happiness. I can understand why you feel the way you do, as much as I wish you didn't. Whenever I hear you talk like this, I think back to that day in high school - in the midst of your so-called "awkward" phase - when an entire table of my friends turned at once to watch you cross a room. Even then, everyone took notice, and you've only grown more beautiful with each passing day.

Gain weight, shave your head, grow a tail - you'll still be gorgeous no matter what. John falling for you didn't MAKE you beautiful - you already were/are. And his recent mistakes don't change who YOU are.

You are beautiful. A beautiful friend, a beautiful mother, a beautiful daughter and granddaughter, niece and cousin, a beautiful Christian woman - and an inspiration to so, so many people. And if you don't see that right now, we'll all keep reaffirming it until you do again.

You are BEAUTIFUL!!!

Curdie said...

Wow, what a post! So honest and heartfelt. Please continue to work out your emotions if it helps. I'm praying for you.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. My husband left me after 15 years and I felt like I was ugly. I needed to be reassured that I was still desirable to men and my way of doing that was hitting the bar scene. That lasted for 2 months until I realized that was never the right scene for me and will never be the place for me. I am now remarried with a beautiful 6 month old baby girl. I still miss my ex who by the way came to his senses about a year after leaving us. By then the damage was done and I had moved on.
Pour your heart out all you want El, we (even us anonymous readers) will continue to read your blog and pray for you. We feel your pain and have shed tears right along with you. I pray that John comes to his senses sooner rather than later. The grass is not greener on the other side. You are his wife and his family. I pray that you have the strength to truly forgive him and not doubt his every word when you get back together. That's what happened to me. But after 4 affairs (my ex was the one cheating) I didn't have the strength anymore.
God bless you and your beautiful family. I will be praying for you.
As gorgeous and funny as you are, somebody is going to snatch you right up if John doesn't figure out soon what a prize he already has!
-A-

Jill Elaine said...

Amen to all the posts above. You are beautiful Ellyn, even if you would become physically ugly!:-)
I pray for you daily and that John will come to his senses sooner rather than later. BEFORE you have moved on and found a better life without him.
JIll

Anna said...

Of course we're still reading, and will continue to do so.

Nothing is off limits here! If this is where you feel safe, more power to ya!

Hang in there. You're a beautiful smart woman. You will love again.

Eva said...

It doesn't bother me one bit that you are sharing what is going on in your life.. it's your blog! And those that want to support you and pray for you will continue to do so! I know all about self esteem leaving with your husbands attention. I feel for you. In Jesus' love and grace you will see the other end of the tunnel one day.

Windy said...

Ellyn, still thinking and praying and supporting ALL of you. (including John) If you haven't read the book The Shack, by William Peterson I think it'd be perfect timing! I have a copy if you want me to drop it by.

Heather Kimble said...

I don't comment much, not even sure if I ever have...but you have been on my heart, and I have been praying for you.

Don't give up on your marriage if you don't want to. Pray and seek God, he can rebuild the trust and the relationship. He is in the restoration business, if we will allow him to do it. I know right now it seems all of the decisions are being made by John, but God can restore him as well...just keep praying and hold on to Jesus.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
For we are GOD'S WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God made you, you are special, and beautiful. You were created ON PURPOSE for a PURPOSE.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellyn, I've sat here and read through most of your posts which has taken me several hours. I've tried to read through it all so I can get most of the story before jumping to any conclusions, and let me say, I've held back for as long as I can.

Are you really surprised? I mean it is John afterall. John who typically dates 2-3 women at one time which has dated back to highschool. When he met you, chances are he was involved with other women or at least telling them the same things he was telling you! I guess its true what they say: once a cheater always a cheater.

Bottom line...John is scum. Its really too bad that it took you this long to figure it out. However, you are a beatiful, intelligent, motivated, strong woman. Do NOT let him take you to such an unhappy place. You are better than that, you are stronger than that, you have so much to give and so much to live for. You have BEAUTIFUL children, and amazing friends. Keep your head up and keep focused on the positives in your life and you will get through it. He will realize what a mistake he is making and its a shame he can't see what all he is missing out on.

You are beautiful, you are strong, you are determind, you are intelligent, you are a mother, you are caring, you are all these things and more. You can and you will get through this!!! :)

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