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Please help me change my self sabotage

(19 Posts)
abigailing Sun 18-Oct-15 13:31:44

Sorry this is so long.

As a brief history, I had on ok but difficult childhood where my parents loved me in their own way but it was also difficult. Mum came from a background of abuse and while she was very loving and a good woman she also seemed not very happy about having children (saw as burden to her freedom) was a very angry person a lot of the time (treading on eggshells and trying to please) and was also very prone to acting like I was the Mum (often comforting her or discussing relationship problems for her). Dad also a good man who loves me but has Aspergers syndrome so is emotionally very cold, prone to massive temper displays and shouting at me over minor things and unable to offer emotional support either. I grew up feeling like I had to please everyone, keep the peace and make everyone happy but feeling very alone.

My first love was the first person who made me feel loved and cared for and supported and that was a wonderful relationship which lasted from the age of 15 -19 and when he broke up with me (unexpectedly) when he left for university on the other side of the country I was truly devastated.

The pain of that was almost impossible to deal with and so I left my own university course and went off travelling alone. I was gone until I was 25 and during that time I had endless sex, often one night stands, was drunk all the time, got into drugs and simultaniously forged myself a brilliant career but never a relationship or closeness with anyone at all.

Then I got pregnant at 25 and after that, I got my act together and completely stopped having sex or seeing men at all and became a working Mum who put everything into raising my child. Every ounce of love in me was transferred to that baby and I never even thought about men at all. I just worked my butt off and made a great life for me and DS. That said, inside I was very lonely and isolated. I became a Mum and nothing else.

I then met a man at 31 who presented himself to me in a way I found irrestistable. He seemed like the nicest man on earth and told me he loved me more than anything in the world, wanted to raise my son with me and give me a home and a family. Which he did. We moved in together, got engaged and he gave me the first peaceful and calm home of my life and I felt settled and happy that my son lived in the happy home I never had.

Then he left me. I really don't know why. It was out of the blue he said he stopped loving me, but it happenned in the space of a day and it was an incredible shock and I felt so betrayed and lost. I never thought he would ever do that.

That was two years ago, and I have had a lot of counselling and I have recovered to the point of not being so devastated all the time but the abandonment affected me deeply.

I am desperate. Desparate for someone to love me. Desperate to be looked after. Desparate to be cuddled. Desperate basically. At the same time I am absolutely convinced everyone is cheating on me, everyone is lying to me, everyone is going to leave and that what is underneath and inside me is deeply unlovable.

I am now 36, and I have a lot of good and positive things. For a start, I have a wonderful and supportive family (Mum and Dad are great as adults if still a little self centred and unable to support emotionally). I have an amazing child who is now growing into an incredible little man who has recovered well from the disappearance of his stepfather. I have a nice home (that I can barely afford though) and great friends (but that I hardly ever see).

My problem is that I just don't seem to care about myself. I hate being a bit overweight (size 14 on a good day) and know I would be happier back at my usual 12 but no nothing about it and don't even exercise anymore. Almost like I am abusing myself. I have a fantastic business with great opportunity but I am completely demotivated and as such only achieve half what I could and am in constantly financial pressure. I am well liked and have a heap of friends but hardly ever see them because I can't be bothered. I make no effort to take part in life and have no hobbies or activities or anything I feel very proud of. I am not depressed, but just criminally apathetic.

The only thing that cures me and makes me feel alive and happy again is a new man and that is always temporary. I feed off male attention and it is only good for the first date or two, after which I start to pick apart all the reasons they don't like me or they are going to hurt me and I act like a crazy person. Unsuprisngly I have also attracted a few players and emotionally unavailable men who have lied and further re-enforced my insecurity.

I have been seeing someone for about 2 months and unlike all the other he wants to move slow. He does not give me all the attention I would like. He does not text incessantly. I can't manipulate him or get him to say the right words I want to hear. He does not act like Romeo. He is not gushy, he is just a good, kind man who may or may not like me but he hasn't dates me enough times to know yet. In essense...he is a healthy normal man. And strangely I find myself genuinely liking him more than any of the others but at the same time am driven insaneby his lack of instant adoration.

I obsess over why he doesn't call every day, I stalk him online, I have been on dates, sexted and have even slept with another guy since we have been dating (so ashamed, please don't judge me I am not a cheap ever before) and I am even tempted to check his phone sad it is absolutely insane. I have also dumped him three times, over absolutely nothing and I think he strangely understands me and is patient and wants me to get past this and just date like normal people without all this pressure I am creating. I know I am going to drive him away if I can't just remain calm and get on with my life without investing so much so early.

Please don't flame me for being so honest, I know all this behavior is completely unhinged and it is something I want and need to stop which is why I am asking for help. Has anyone else ever felt this way before or acted like this? I feel so ashamed of who I am and I just want to put together a plan so I can get through this and build back a normal life. I don't want to go back to counselling but I just want to tackle this myself

I really want to be able to have this opportunity to date someone normally, with no demands or needyness or me feeling like he has to prove on date 5 that he loves me and will never leave me (which is how I feel) or to push him away before he hurts me (which is how I feel).

I also want to, in tandem, be able to have a healthy happy and normal life independent from him and for him to just be 5% of what's going on in my life instead of 100%.

Can anyone please advise me on how to do this? I would love to have a practical plan for how I could begin to feel better because I am a normal and good woman who has just lost her way and needs to feel strong again.

MerdeAlor Sun 18-Oct-15 14:48:56

Such a heartfelt, honest post OP flowers

You've already come a long way and achieved so much. It is easy to see you are an articulate, intelligent and sensible woman beneath the madness of insecurity.

The insecurity you feel is deep seated and can't be resolved as simply as someone giving you advice here. IMO it requires some working through outside of a relationship.

Counselling would help massively. Would you consider that?

abigailing Sun 18-Oct-15 15:12:26

Thanks so much for that nice reply.

Thing is Merde I did 3 years after the first ex left an then have just finished another 2 years and I feel like I have done all the analysis and all that. What I really want is to just get practical hold of.

One thing for example was working out a plan to lose the weight, another would be a plan for motivation with work (self employed so hard), anotehr would be ways to meet new people and also maybe ways to prevent me over-reacting and stalking (was even thinking of deleting social media).

Also maybe ways to know what is normal. I am so insecure, I really don't know what is normal on a 5th or 6th date level in terms of what a person should or should be doing.

And then maybe just ideas for ways to rethink the way that I deeply feel like I will have failed in life if I don't end up married.

CheersMedea Sun 18-Oct-15 15:15:29

This my take on it. I think that this:

My problem is that I just don't seem to care about myself. I hate being a bit overweight (size 14 on a good day) and know I would be happier back at my usual 12 but no nothing about it and don't even exercise anymore. Almost like I am abusing myself. . . I am not depressed, but just criminally apathetic.

and this:

The only thing that cures me and makes me feel alive and happy again is a new man and that is always temporary. I feed off male attention and it is only good for the first date or two, after which I start to pick apart all the reasons they don't like me or they are going to hurt me and I act like a crazy person.

Are part and parcel of the same problem. Deep down you are crippled by low self esteem. You fear that no one could really want YOU or love YOU. So -
1. you are not motivated to lose weight because you are hiding behind your fat. You are less exposed to rejection if you are bit heavier than you would like to be because you attract less male attention than you would if you were at your fighting fit best. There is very little written about excess weight being tied to an emotional choice to hide sexually. It's not the same but google weight gain and sexual abuse for articles on a similar theme that explores the idea in the context of sexual abuse.
2. Because you have such low self esteem, you think that Mr Right will "fix" you and make your life perfect.
3. Equally, your low self esteem and fear of rejection make you pick apart anyone who wants you. Why would they want you? your subconscious thinks. There must be something wrong with them. Groucho Marx syndrome - I wouldn't want to be a member of any club that would have me.

I strongly suspect in terms of a practical plan, tackling your crippling self esteem is at the root of this. I have no experience or knowledge of therapy or types of therapy. I don't know whether low self esteem that is so deep rooted is something that can properly be improved (like treating a cold to cure it) or whether it is something it is so deep rooted where the best you can do is manage your symptoms to function better (like treating a congenital disease that you'll never be free of). Hopefully other posters with more knowledge of therapy and counselling can recommend types of therapy that may help improve very deep rooted and chronic low self esteem. I don't know the real difference between psychotherapy, CBT etc except in a very layman's way so wouldn't know where to start.

If you want a more day to day plan, I think the first step would be to try to tackle your weight which is obviously bothering you. What about paying for a personal trainer at your local gym for say 8 weeks? Schedule 8 weeks of appointments, same time each week - twice a week, three if you can manage it.

If you have paid and have an appointment, you are probably more likely to go. Exercise will make you feel better and you should lose some weight too.

wintersocks Sun 18-Oct-15 15:15:40

It sounds so cliched but the love you are so desperately seeking needs to be self love. That will make you feel more secure in yourself. I really recommend the book 'Inner bonding' by margaret paul as it has changed my life tbh in terms of feeling happier and more self accepting. Also therapy could be great as pp said. Good luck op flowers

BramblePie Sun 18-Oct-15 15:18:53

I think this book would be beneficial to you:

I am like you and crave attention, love and do not want to be left - Abandoned.

Anyway, i recommended this book before on another thread and i think even another poster also bought it. It has really helped me, the other posters and i think this will help you.

I self sabotage all the time. I destroy what i have so other people can't get there and do it before me. That way i believe i am in control, not anyone else. It's hard to just chill, relax and trust. Believe this new guy is not going to betray you or run a mile. If i were you i'd take it slow with this guy. As hard as it is, i know.. I always jump in the deep end to relationships. But there are good ones out there! xx

abigailing Sun 18-Oct-15 16:19:28

CheersMede yes that's exactly it. I hide behind being fat. I then use it as a reason no one would love me. It's really weird but I tie a lot of my stock and self worth into my looks because my Mother did. I come from a family where the way a woman looks is very important (much more important than anything else) and my Mother is an exceptionally beautiful woman. I'm aware I inherited her looks in an intellectual sens, as in I am aware people are always telling me I am beautiful but I honestly don't quite connect to it being actually true.

I do think Mr right will fix me and make all that darkness go away, but yes, if one comes along and cares for me or wants me I believe abslutely that my job is to disprove his intentions because deep down, yes, I don't feel like anyone could truly know or love me so what I do is play a role.

I think what happenned really is that I felt deeply like my parents didn't love me. I know they did (to the best of their ability) but it's hard to describe because I always felt like I had to work hard for that and pretend to be happy for their sake. Their was no room for me. I think those missing roots made it hard for me to cope with losing both men I have loved so unexpectedly, and in the second case particularly cruelly and I have just been knocked down.

My first loves Mum ran into me a few months ago and we went for dinner and she told me he'd been so in love and that he'd told her in his later years that he'd nevr loved anyone quite the same way and that went some way to making me believe that at one point SOMEONE had felt I was truly loveable, and that it is only after I forgot to love myself that no one else really could.

I frankly know for sure that my sefl esteem and self love would return if I:

a) got back to a healthier weight
b) did things that were fun
c) was working harder at work and achieving more
d) was a better mother and role model
e) had a busier life instead of just wallowing and waiting to die

And I know all of those things are within my own control and that if I was doing them perhaps I would no longer feel the need to stalk men I am dating or act like a nutter.

In terms of love I would just like to feel like the fate of the world does not depend on how some man feels about me.

It's not I am anti-therapy or is more that I feel absolutely trapped in this endless cycle of anaylsis and really just want some straight talking facts about how to be happy and have a good life. How other people feel about themselves. How dating is meant to feel. What motivates others.

I want to be someone I am proud of, not ashamed.

CheersMedea Sun 18-Oct-15 19:42:22

I hide behind being fat. I then use it as a reason no one would love me

I think this is a recognised psychological reason for excess weight. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's really common, but I think it's not unknown. It's surprising there isn't really much written about or commentary on how to treat this kind of weight gain/obesity (not saying you are obese btw!)

Georgethesecond Sun 18-Oct-15 19:51:36

How to have a good life?
Small steps, I think.
Something small towards the things on your list. Bu do something every day. Or nearly every day, some days will always be too busy.

OneMoreForExtra Sun 18-Oct-15 20:51:05

Abigailing, I'll be back when I'm not rushing but I just wanted to say your post really touched a chord with me. I also have a good but difficult background with an Asperger father and a mother who had her problems dealing with it, and like you all sorts of esteem and sabotage problems, coming out in first promiscuity and then isolation, compensated for with career success and lovely friends. Like you, the all-consuming love relationship in my life is really my son, not my partner. Unlike you, I never really manage to fall properly in love and make good relationships; I'm always too guarded, and I absolutely salute you for managing to do that, not once, but twice.

I don't want to second guess all your counselling, but there's one thing in all your experience that may hold the key to your unhappiness. Your dad's aspergers. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but if you're like me you've grown up with a subtle mismatch in emotional cues and responses, inevitably ending up programming you to believe you're wrong and unlovable, while simultaneously craving the love (that your father couldn't express in a way that meant anything to you) more than anything else. If you haven't already, read up on Cassandra syndrome and children of AS parents - it's could be helpful.

I only realised really how profound the impact on a growing child must be when I saw my dad interacting with my DS. He would reach for DF's hand, DF would brush it off. DS would bring him a picture he'd drawn, DF would say 'hmmm' and go back to his paper. Not unkind, but not realising the human dimension to the interaction. Shattering if that's your programme for male attention.

Really good luck, OP. You're obviously insightful and very intelligent and you've built a huge amount of value in your life.

Fastcargirl Sun 18-Oct-15 22:30:15

OP I'm a little like you in some ways. I am always on high alert. Only recently I'd convinced myself my DP was looking to hook up with someone else, no evidence, no inclination from him. It feels like I'm constantly monitoring the intensity of his love for me and if I perceive it waining even a tiny bit, I assume he must be going off me and looking for someone else more exciting, better looking, sexier etc etc. Over the years I've conditioned myself to equate excitement with level of love or attraction. I've also conditioned myself to think he wants constant excitement, thrill, high octane relationships, sex etc and without a high level of excitement he will get bored and I'll be dumped,
like your new man my DP isn't the Romeo of the 21st C. He is kind, thoughtful, decent and yes he has a past history but he loves me. And quite a lot I feel unhinged. I too have gone down the road of sexting men in the past, men I hardly knew too. I've felt wanted, excited etc as if this was what I should be doing yet I knew deep down I didn't want to.

So knowing this about myself this are the rules I set for myself to take the internsity out of the relationship, rewire my emotional responses and take the adrenalin out of my relationship.

Polite conversations only on text, or facts. Sexting doesn't work for me. I'm too insecure.

I remind myself every day he is a person not a projection of my insecurities. And he is my friend. So I treat him with the same level of calm and interest I do with friends, ask how his day was etc. respond to his questions, don't look behind the words. If it doesn't work out that's ok, it will be hurtful but I'll live.

I don't mimimise his good intentions. I've conditioned myself to say thank you to compliments. If he turns up with a gift I love it and say so, I compliment him. Even if I'm feeling slightly unhinged underneath I do this because it keeps things calm. I tell him if I'm feeling anxious, I may leave out the reasons why but I will say I'm feeling anxious this week so I may seem a bit on edge.

I do not look at his phone. Ever. Neither do I look over his shoulder when he is on the phone.
I put things into context. If I'm worrying he hasn't called me....I start to tell myself it doesn't mean he doesn't love me, it means nothing. I don't worry when a friend doesn't call me every day so why should this be so different.

I have prioritised relaxing. I put the phone in the car and I spend a few hours looking at videos, in the garden, anything to calm the mind. Anything. I watch you tube videos on massage, fashion, food or anything non controversial.

I do not look for him in the Internet. I will take him on face value unless I have a gut feeling or unless I have evidence. And I won't snoop.
My Facebook is more about my likes rather than my friends. He is not on my Facebook

I have spent a lot of time and effort Downsizing my wardrobe, only wearing what suits me and trying to introduce fruit into my diet. I've joined a health club with a pool. The pool is small yet luxurious and the showers are divine so it's my treat.

You are not alone OP every day I have to consciously do the above and I must say my inner dialogue is calming down and I don't feel so wired. I do have bad days and I've just had a few where I've felt very insecure, I've not apologised for when I've needed reassurance but I've kept things in perspective and I feel pretty good today. A day at a time.

Handywoman Sun 18-Oct-15 22:37:32

OP can I make a suggestion, that the work you've done in counselling is incomplete and maybe you should work this through with a different therapist?

I just think that there's a difference between the cognitive work and a more integrated work. Am not an expert. But that's my experience.

I've had one counsellor who was quite superficial. My new one is much more analytical but also experiential and guides me through the change and sees when I am falling back on old patterns of thinking/feeling coping and keeps steering me in a new direction.

She firmly believes you can learn to change behaviours.

IMO you won't get past this by reading a book.

abigailing Sun 18-Oct-15 22:50:00

Thanks OneMoreForExtra. That really struck a chord with me and I think what you say is so right.

My Dad is so dismissive and so uninterested and bored by me and when I am with him I feel like I have to say something to make him like me. It's so awful. He has also said awful things to me before. Like I remember the awful comments about my weight, calling me a "big unit" and things like that and he;s not trying to be nasty but he's not got a clue. He doesnt really register much empathy or see me at all. I really do literally CRAVE that love and that unconditional acceptance and am looking for that and can't seem to be satisfied.

I agree so much with what you say, watching DF with DS I cringe at the stuff he says sometimes.

abigailing Sun 18-Oct-15 22:53:19

Cross posted there so sorry had not read the other two posts, will read those now

abigailing Sun 18-Oct-15 23:18:04

Fastcargirl, thank you, I read that three times and it was so helpful and kind of you (a) to be so honest and make me feel less of a mentalist by doing so and (b) to give those practical tips and self limits which are so helpful.

Today was a bad day. I was absolutely off the charts insane today. Have checked his Facebook maybe 50 times. Have checked his "last seen" on WhatsApp maybe 50 times too and assumed he was definitely seeing someone else every time he was online and have wasted my day totally on that.

The reality, as my mind knows, is that this guy knew me for six months and really liked me. He liked my job, how smart I am, he thought I was beatiful (size 14 or not), he thought I was caring and funny and thoughtful and he knew I was insecure as he'd mentioned it as one of the endearing things about me. I know him pretty well, know he doesn't date a lot or shag about and also know he was the pursuer who very much wanted to date me and that now that he is he behaves basically the same as he always has. Non gushy, patient, calm, sometimes off the radar for a few days and yet I read negatively into absolutely everything. It's ridiculous. Everythign he says is analysed. He likes me yes, but the truth is he's not in love with me or mad about me and I WISH I could feel like that was ok! Because I know cognitively that it absolutely is! I am the same with every man. It's so embarrassing. But the beauty part is because I never fancied him, I let him see the real me for six months before we dated.

Thanks Handywoman. I do know how great counselling can be and I do occssionally go back for a session but money is very tight right now and I actually find it quite stressful to go to counselling. Almost as if I feel like I am embarrassed to not be healed and I could not be this honest with any counsellor.

I did something good today and made a list of 64 things I want to do to improve my self esteem and feel better, get more active and rejoin the human race and it made me feel a lot better just to get that on paper. Today was maybe rock bottom where I finally admitted all of this to myself because until I really wrote it out in black and white I always figured the problem was that men don't love me or like me enough - and that's not the problem at all.

the problem is that I am expecting them to MADLY love and adore me like they can't breathe, eat or sleep without me and jump through hoops of fire to be with me before they even know me.

At this stage I have this amazing guy, who gets me, who sees me as I am for the most part, who just wants to date and get to know me and I don't want to fuck it up by feeling like I have to be more exciting or impress him or demand too much from him.

I know that to be able to do that I have to start feeling better about myself and I know that the small tasks to begin along that road are within my grasp...I just need to DO it.

Fastcargirl Mon 19-Oct-15 07:31:35

Thank you Abigailng. The thing my little techniques do is stop the thoughts from getting out of control. Checking FB and what's app so many times is intrusive for you, those thoughts dominate. The checking became like a drug and I didn't even know what I was checking it for. My own inner negative thought patterns were making everything a catastrophe. Yep I understand it.

I've learned through all it's ok for my DP not to feel unhinged about me to love me, he just needs to love, respect and support me his way. It's ok for him not to want sex with me all the time, or as soon as I walk in, he still finds me attractive. Most of all I've learned to stop second guessing what he is thinking. Only he knows what he is thinking.

last weekend I was feeling v insecure. I'd got a nasty cold sore so kissing was off the menu. Plus it was my period and he said I was boiling hot to touch. I managed to escalate the air kissing and him saying I was hot into he doesn't love me, he wants to dump me, he wants someone better. So when I got home I wrote it down. When I re read my statements I could see I was rapidly escalating negative thoughts into a catastrophe with no evidence.

The stepping away for me took time. Slowly not looking for 5 minutes then 10 minutes etc. Eventually I got it to an hour. Now many months later I can honestly say I don't look at his social media at all.

Be kind to youself. There is a book called The Meaning of Slow that really helped me. Take one day at a time. Concentrate on your own self worth re build. If he is a keeper, great. If he isn't it' not the end of your world.

CheersMedea Mon 19-Oct-15 09:58:15

^Today was a bad day. I was absolutely off the charts insane today. Have checked his Facebook maybe 50 times. Have checked his "last seen" on WhatsApp maybe 50 times too and assumed he was definitely seeing someone else every time he was online and have wasted my day totally on that.

This sounds like limerence. You should read this thread:

abigailing Mon 19-Oct-15 10:39:53

Thanks everyone. Little bit of progress today, I went for a run and it definitely helped. I used to be a runner, every day like clockwork. I know about Limerence Cheers as I have a book on it but while I think that is what it is it's also not why it happens to me. It happens to me with everyone, not just one person. It's more like paranoia.

Georgethesecond Mon 19-Oct-15 14:26:44

Ah well done. When can you go again?

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