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Insecurities destroying relationship. please help!

(12 Posts)
flowersmn2 Fri 13-May-16 17:32:12

Giant post ahead, sorry -

My insecurities about my looks -or lack of- are seriously affecting my relationship (longish term ten years, children). I really need to at least try to fix this but I have no idea how. My partner has walked out many times this year just over this issue, most of our arguments have centred around it. We've had troubles in the past but were in a better place for a good while before this got really bad.

I've always felt insecure about my body and looks, have felt like an 'ugly duckling' since I was young, looking back I had a brief period of feeling confident-ish about my looks in my late teens and that's when I met my DP. After having children I have no body confidence especially because I'm petite and my eldest was big, both DC born by c section, my tummy has really bad stretchmarks and loose skin. For years I was very shy about this and it did cause difficulties but not enough to spoil things. Fast forward to now, 3 years ago I was diagnosed with an auto immune and the medication is making my hair fall out ): however I need to take it. I have been horribly self concious about this for years, I hate it, don't want to go out especially under bright lights or when I can't wear a hat. Have tried wigs etc but can't afford any which look natural. It's killed off any confidence I had left. DP has sort of avoided the topic, which hurts, but he has also been very reassuring at times. It's gotten to the point I just CANNOT have sex, we try often because I do have the desire for sex iyswim, but when it comes to it I freeze, flinch, won't look, won't kiss, pull away, can't bear him touching most places or looking near my head, there's many stops and starts, I interpret every little thing, for example him taking longer than usual occasionally (tmi) as evidence in my head that he's being put off by me and is just too polite to hurt my feelings by saying anything about it. Once I get that thought in my head it's game over and there is no way I'll 'finish' iyswim, it barely ever happens any more.

DP has never been one to share feelings and is quite closed off and will often refuse to talk about anything uncomfortable , but in saying that he has been extremely patient as things have been this severe for over a year now. I'm amazed that he is still mostly affectionate and is now saying he is sick of telling me he is not shallow and wouldnt go off me loves me etc, although we are constantly arguing (in short bursts though I suppose, usually after or even sometimes during, sex) about this. He feels rejected I think and says things can't go on like this and I agree, although I'm hurt he keeps walking out and of course I take the walking out as further evidence he doesn't want me because of my looks. He has said today/last night that it's over, he can't take anymore, he feels like a rapist it's ruining everything for both of us and some hurtful childish stuff nothing to do with looks, just flippant "see you later goodbye" type stuff. This has been the pattern for ages and he will come back, but I'm scared one of these times he really will close off for good. On the other hand, I'm also scared of being with someone who's there out of pity or obligation and isn't attracted to me.

I used to have a huge debt problem but cleared it all and vowed never again, but I keep thinking / planning about getting more loans for hair, for plastic surgery etc etc etc the list goes on. I'm trying to 'fix the problem', but I can see that could be skewed thinking. I've had years of therapy 2 private and 1 NHS, not specifically regarding this issue it has been more about traumatic past, but many sessions I have tried to deal with this and so far nothing has worked, I feel I couldn't possibly ever be attractive to someone like this, I can't even fathom it and it's killing my sex drive and also my relationship.

If anyone has any advice it would be so helpful, I realise this has turned into a MAMMOTH post, I didn't intend on that I guess it's because I can't talk to anyone irl about this, it's not exactly aomething you bring up!

merville Fri 13-May-16 22:39:30


Findmuck Fri 13-May-16 22:56:41

Bless you, you sound lovely and I bet you are lovely too. Unfortunately we live in a culture where everyone is supposed to look perfect. I see my daughter struggle with her appearance although she is kind hearted, funny and beautiful. She has similar thoughts to you and no matter what I say it's difficult to reassure her and convince her that she should be proud of who she is.

I can't think of any meaningful advice but I didn't want to read and not answer. I curse at the photo shopped picture of "celebrities " that have made this generation of women feel insecure and question their worth.

I hope wise MNetters come along to offer you their wisdom x

mummyto2monkeys Fri 13-May-16 23:03:52

I think that you need more psychological help. or counselling. You sound depressed and anxious. Your husband obviously still finds you atractive, however you have a block in your own mind that is stopping you from being able to reciprocate. Have you opened up to your g.p/ counsellor about the issues that you are having? Have you tried anti anxiety medication?

Is your hair thinning definitely being caused by your auto immune condition? Have they run and bloods recently to check thyroid function?

wonderingsoul Fri 13-May-16 23:05:52

I am sure you are beautiful and your dh is telling the truth, must be hard for you and him.

You say you cant afford it but have got your self out if debt before, i know you swore you would never get into debt again but i think your mental helth and self esteem is a great important reason to look into a small loan. For a example a wig that you would be utterly happy with one that looks real i think would help boost your confidence and allow you to go out and enjoy your self which will have a knock on effect every where. You are worth it. Is it something you could research?

goddessofsmallthings Sat 14-May-16 07:08:30

No matter how tempting it may be, and no matter how desperate you may be feeling at the moment, I strongly urge you NOT to get into debt for the thousands of pounds it will cost for plastic surgery as this is unlikely to resolve your issues and may add to them if the result is not to your liking and you subsequently beat yourself up for digging the same hole you've successfully filled in.

If you have been told by the consultant/team who are treating your auto immune condition that the medication is causing your hair to thin/fall out, you may be eligible to a bespoke human hair wig on prescription

However, even a synthetic wig can look natural if has been professionally styled by a hairdresser and, if you aren't entitled to a prescription, I would suggest you post on Style & Beauty for recommendations for reasonably priced makes that don't look 'wiglike' or artificial.

With regard to stretchmarks, again I would suggest you solicit advice on S&B as to which oils/creams can be relied on to improve their appearance and which toning lotions have an effect on saggy skin.

That said, it appears that the various counselling sessions you've had to date haven't addressed the body dysmorphia disorder which is causing your view of yourself to be distorted because of negative experiences that afflicted you when you were a child/young teen:

Have you tried to put yourself in your dp's shoes and imagine what you would say if you were him trying to reassure you. Is there anything he could say or do that would make you feel better about yourself?

If he was feeling insecure because he'd developed man boobs and a beer belly that was heading south, would this affect your attraction to him or in any way diminish your love for him?

Would it help you to know that images of our significant others are to some extent 'fixed' in our minds at the time we were first attracted to them? When he looks at you, your dp doesn't see thinning hair, stretchmarks, or saggy skin - he sees you as you were during that "brief period" when you were "confident-ish" about the way you looked and that's the woman he makes to love to - and always will, even when he's 80+!

If you can persuade yourself that this is indeed the case, you may be able to fake it till you make it, if necessary with the help of that tried and tested disinhibitor, alcohol taken in sufficient quantity to turn off the voice in your head that's constantly telling you that you're not good enough, not attractive enough, not sexy enough, not worthy enough, not deserving enough of love from the man you adore and who adores you in equal measure.

No-one should feel the way you do about yourself, flowers. Please make an appointment with your GP and tell him/her what you've said here, or print off your post and give it to them to read because your distress and suffering is painfully apparent and you are in urgent need of treatment.

Findmuck Sat 14-May-16 07:17:59

^^ good advice Goddessofsmallthings

flowersmn2 Sat 14-May-16 13:48:11

Thank you all so much for the bump and also the advice. can't do the flowers thing!

Findmuck I'm so sorry your daughter also feels this way. It is such a shame that nowadays it seems women are more and more judged on appearance I agree. I had some awful experiences with men and have been judged negatively even before I had children or lost any hair, although they were never the type of person for me anyway.

mummyto2monkeys I do have depression and anxiety problems, the diagnosis was post traumatic stress. I have had lots of counselling but never medication I've always managed to drag myself out of bed and function so I've held off, but I definitely suffer from depression and anxiety for sure. I have always been scared to go to the GP for anything mental health related, haven't since I was about 18 Because I don't want it on my med records I suppose. Yeah thats exactly it, a block goes up in my mind and I just feel so ugly and unattractive because of the hair loss and other stuff. The GP and hospital have ran blood tests about six months ago and the thyroid was normal they said, about 2 years ago I became anaemic due to the condition and got iron tablets, when I had an operation this year the blood test was negative for anaemia. I used to have PCOS but it seems not to show up on most blood tests (I get it every 6 month - 1 year) they say hormones normal most times. I pushed to see a consultant about the hair loss and she looked at all my blood tests and put it down to the condition / the medication.

Wandering soul my partner still wants to have sex, but he says I'm making "my" problem with myself into "our" problem and it's putting too much strain on him. He has told me he won't care if I lose all my hair, he said just get the wig thing (not in a dismissive way, but i felt it a bit dismissive), he's said other nice things, but he does seem to be shutting down from me more and more. He says I don't believe him and me taking it out on him is abusive and I suppose he is right, I guess hes run out of empathy.

Yeah, I'm going to try and get some wig or extension thingy recommendations, I actually did get an NHS one and it was synthetic and awful huge 60s style on me, wore it to tesco and people pointed and stared!! I didn't understand as they look so good on some people. I saved up and got one which was nearly £2000 (argh as I'm not rich) and it is human hair and does sit quite natural but it is a very bad colour for me, like bleached blonde with golden stripes. Whereas my colouring is very fair and I have naturally dark ashy blonde hair so I look like a barbie without a tan and it's obvious, although when I wore it outside less people stared than the first one however some still did ): I have heard good things about a vaccum type one and also some places in London but I need a year or so to save for that kind of expense. I'm thinking to try and get the second wig coloured and styled with maybe a fringe or glued down the lace at the front so it looks more natural, well I can hope so.

Godessofsmallthings Thanks for reminding me why it's a bad idea to get surgery, I do fear about all that can go wrong the horror stories etc x I guess it would only be me trying to 'compensate' for feeling my tummy and lack of hair is so unattractive, and that's probably the wrong reasons. Other than my tummy (which I cannot have any more surgery on in case I need major surgery for the condition in the future, have been told to avoid), the rest of my body is the same or similar as any other woman with children I know, so why is it I judge myself so much.
I am going to look into getting the best wig or weave I can, and if I'm still not comfortable I'll just have to wear hats or scarves/headbands over them and try to at least forget be intimate in the dark or near dark, cause even the bad ones I've tried look ok in the dark! Dp would grumble about always turning the lights off and shutting the blinds etc, but I think he'd compromise if I was less, well, the way I am.
Re the stretchmarks, I doubt they are going anywhere quickly lol! My youngest is 7, but my eldest (big baby, tiny petite me) permanently separated my stomach muscles and done most of the stretching! A doctor I saw for something completely unrelated noticed and called students in to look (way to make me feel great!!)advised to do core strength exercises and that's all can do short of surgery. So I will start doing them and also I think a tan lotion can help to hide.

Don't know why I haven't taken any steps to look better, I guess depression, apathy, what's the point I'll still be ugly thoughts.

Funnily enough, DP is the only person who has mentioned "your body dysmorphia" or bloody body dysmorphia usually in arguments. I guess he is right but I've never said so.

I've said to DP the only thing I can think of that would help me would be to absolutely promise me he'd tell me if he became unattracted or put off by me, not to just make an excuse to save my feelings. He says he would tell me, but still I don't believe him, as I think I'd tell white lies to spare feelings, everyone does. He does so much already, which if I think about it I feel so guilty about, he is very gentle and tries to make me comfortable.

If he was insecure or had a physical defect, I'm pretty sure I'd look past it because I'm attracted to his personality and companionship, and I think even if I was put off a little physically, I'd still enjoy the feelings and technique or closeness etc enough for things to still be good in that way. But then I always read and hear that men are more visually-orientated and that's galling for me if so!

I so hope that's true what you say about initial attraction lasting beyond changes! (: I can see that actually, I've aged a bit and obviously the stretchmarks and then hair issue, so have more drastically changed, but DP is quite a bit older than me and he has aged in some ways but more in the normal ways ie wrinkles etc , I don't really notice much unless I think about it and I feel the same way as I ever did about him despite his (minimal) aging.

Thank you so much as you can see from my post, you've given me a lot to think about, and I'm going to try and fake it til I make it, those voices are just that, and they are horrible. It is distressing, it's taking over my thoughts on a daily even hourly basis and is destroying my relationship.

If anyone has got this far in my mini novel post, I've had an idea based on something a previous counsellor said, to ease into it and feel more comfortable, maybe I should practise putting on wigs (one good thing - they don't fall off at all - i thought they would) and reassuring myself it looks ok in the dark, before having sex, and make sure it's dark, I have my nicest clothes on, make up, perfume, hold in and push up undies etc, and try being intimate only in the dark for now? because I think I'm putting pressure on myself to be "cured", but maybe I should accept darkness and concentrating on banishing the thoughts might be as good as I am going to feel about this, but at least it could be something, right?

mummyto2monkeys Sat 14-May-16 16:45:34

I struggle with self esteem too OP, I was a size 10, 5"10 young pretty twenty year old with legs up to my armpits and energy and enthusiasm for life. Thirteen years later, after two pregnancies, I am now size 16, apron bellied, wheelchair/ bed bound(severely disabled)and need my husband/ carers to help me wash/dress/ go to the toilet/ change my catheter.

My husband is still gorgeous and looks as great as he did when he first married me. I have asked him before, how he can still find me sexually attractive. Last night he said something so lovely that it made me cry. ' Mummyto2 when I fell in love with you, I fell in love with the kind girl who made me feel like it was ok to be myself for the first time ever. I fell in love with the girl who made me laugh and smile and lit up the room when you walked in. I fell in love with your soul. You were beautiful when I first met you and you are even more beautiful now. You have made me happier than I ever imagined and given me two beautiful children. To me, no matter how old we get, no matter our weight, your beauty will always be the same and when I look at you I see my beautiful wife and I always will.'

My husband is not one for soppy cards, he is not usually romantic, especially with words although he is the kindest, most loving man I have ever met. You are still you OP. You are still the woman who turned your husband's head so far, that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you. Look in your husband's eyes and see the love shining back at you. Don't look at your reflection, look at the love as he sees the woman he married, the woman he still loves.

Anti anxiety medication has really helped me to be more relaxed and enjoy life.
I still have my down days but they are much easier to manage. After my daughter was born, my hair became very thin. See through thin, my rheumatologist tested my blood and found that I lacked vitamin d. I was prescribed a high dose of vitamin d mixed with calcium. I am now on these tablets twice daily, since starting them my hair has really grown back in thick. My Mum is almost bald but has a large head so has struggled to find a wig. I know how much it affects My Mums confidence. I think it's a brilliant idea to take your wig to a stylist and have it trimmed/ coloured.

helhathnofury Sat 14-May-16 20:40:33

Having just read the symptoms and the fact they have said pcos, please go back to your doctor to have them rule out cushings syndrome and check your adrenals. Not to worry you but I had hair thinning, weight gain, facial hair and anxiety - it was put down to pcos but 2 yrs later got a proper diagnosis. I too felt the same as you self esteem wise, hated my body. It was gaining a bit of confidence during cognitive therapy that I was able to push the drs for further investigation - do not let them fob you off.

LidikaLikes Sat 14-May-16 22:21:10

OP, you sound like a sweetheart.

I suffer from body dysmorphia - mainly fixated around my face shape & fear of being fat (I'm a size 10).

I had 6 CBT sessions last summer, which helped somewhat to reframe how I view myself.

In fact, DH sought this help for me as he was at end of rope trying to help me himself.

I totally agree with what you said about sex, I often am similar. I push DH away emotionally & physically. I don't want to do this, but I do it because I'm so afraid of idea of him rejecting me. I've rejected myself, think the worst about myself, and assume DH feels same.

I hope OP that you get the help you need. You're really not alone.

Atenco Sun 15-May-16 03:46:02

I had a bit of this, though without your health problems and actually looking back at old photographs I was quite pretty. But pretty or not, I have known models who, because of their personalities I quickly stopped seeing as pretty, whereas I had a friend who was objectively ugly but was so lovely that half an hour of conversation turned her into a really beautiful person in my eyes. I am sure you are beautiful in your husband's eyes. Really external looks are only good for very first impressions.

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