I’m attempting to write a series of posts about the early days of my marriage. It’s hard to go back and remember. These posts may be short. I’m trying to be honest but sometimes I feel less brave than others and I’m often confused. Bear with me while I tell you some stories!
It was in the early days and we’d had a break up already. In the first break up he told me that he was used to having a girlfriend who looked good 24/7. And I wasn’t that. He was finding it hard to be with me when I didn’t wear enough make up, amongst other criticisms.
Truly, he said that. I feel ashamed just writing that. I feel shaky writing that. Because I stayed with him. I married him. I had kids with him. All after he’d said that to me.
My well of sadness ran deep.
I felt unlovable.
I wonder whether my self-esteem could have been any lower. But I didn’t perceive my feelings as being ‘low self-esteem’. Maybe I was still on fight or flight mode rather than honest self-reflection. Maybe I just didn’t know what to do with pain and hurt because, let’s face it, I hadn’t ever sought or received help for the rape I’d suffered age 22. I was locked in fright at how cruel people could be. I thought I ought to be able to just get over it. I didn’t know that seeking help or talking about things was even a thing as I didn’t have any close examples of how to do that.
As part of looking back I go through a painful process of asking why I didn’t tell people, so they could say WHAT A SHIT! DON’T YOU DARE GET BACK WITH HIM! or stand up for myself? Fear. I was scared he was right. What if someone said back to me (or didn’t dare say to me, “well actually you are a bit ugly and low maintenance”). I was too scared to admit vulnerability. That’s the scary thing.
We mistakenly think that vulnerability is a sign of weakness, when it’s a sign of true bravery.
Back then, at the age of 25 turning 26, I was at rock bottom and faking ‘things looking like they were going well’. Sometimes, people who look like they have stuff sorted, don’t. I could make good sense, I was intelligent, I had friends, so what on earth could be the problem?
But my heart and soul told a different story and I suffered inwardly, alone, for a long time.
I remember standing in GAP on Briggate (main shopping street) in Leeds that day, and I wasn’t even looking at clothes. Clothes couldn’t fix my ugliness, could they? I looked instead around the shop. Every female in there seemed to me to be removed from the place I was in, as though there was a physical barrier between me and them – albeit a hazy one, there was something removed about me and them.
Through the haze, I looked at those girls, casually browsing clothes, and thought that each and every one of them was more attractive than me, happier than me, more beautiful than me and more capable of keeping a stable relationship that me. Why would he go out with me when he could pick from all these beautiful girls?
I’d been perplexed when he originally told me that he was breaking up with me and when he told me the reason. It seemed like a joke (a cruel one, but I couldn’t actually fathom that anyone could be that mean). He responded to my perplexed expression by spelling it out for me:
- Your nose is too big
- Your boobs are too small
- You don’t wear enough make up
- You don’t dress up in nice enough clothes
I’ll leave you to form your own opinions about that. I’m sad that I wasn’t in a place to stand up for myself and tell him where to go. I think I was too shocked.
Fast Forward to now
And my reaction now? How fucking dare he? If anyone treats you in this way, get out. Get away from that person. Their design is to bring you down, to a place lower than even their own base level, so that they can feel superior. It is a indication of a severely messed up attitude towards beauty, bodies, appearance and females in general. His attitude disgusts me.
I’d like to go back to the girl that I was standing there in GAP that day and say to her:
- You are more than enough
- You are perfect just as you are
- You are beautiful just as you are
- Please walk away from him and don’t spend another second of your life feeling down
If you are in a relationship with someone who says mean things to you and brings you down, the first step is to acknowledge it. Sit with it. Realise what is happening. And know that it’s not ok and that you are worth infinitely more.
You are love and light. You are perfect just as you are. There is no such thing as unlovable.