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lack of confidence/feeling insecure

(5 Posts)
AliasSmithorJones Mon 10-Aug-09 13:40:21

how do you deal with this?

At the risk of sounding pathetic...

I was in a verbally abusive relationship for 20 years with a bullying control-freak and eventually broke free. Ex is still causing me problems by messing me about with maintenance and visiting DCs.

Since leaving him, I had a brief fling with someone who - it turned out - was equally bullying and controlling. In retrospect it was much too soon (quite apart from him being a poor choice), but I can't change that now. I needed to feel attractive and he filled that void for a while. However, he had his own issues and the fling was over quickly. But as a consequence he ostracised me from that group of friends and I still feel very humiliated by the experience.

A year on from that I have met someone else who seems to be very nice. We have been seeing eachother for 6 months now and it feels nice to be with him. He is reliable and caring, BUT I am so afraid of letting myself trust him. I am taking my time getting to know him, not rushing anything, all the sensible things.

In parallel to this is relationships with female friends. My exh spent a lot of time telling me that people didn't like me and I still spend a lot of time wondering that people don't like me. Logically, I know that some do and some don't, just as I know that I like some people and don't like others. The conditioning of 20 years of marriage is hard to break free of, though.

How do you deal with is? does anyone have advice?

tiredoftherain Mon 10-Aug-09 14:35:20

I think this is something that everyone feels now and again to a certain extent. My sister (who is very sociable and popular) suffers from terrible PMT and always phones in floods of tears each month as she becomes convinced nobody really likes her. She's fine again once her hormones have rebalanced but it's scary how much it affects her clarity of thought while it's happening.

I think you have been manipulated into feeling this way by your XH, and it's become ingrained over time. I think you need to lean on the friends you can trust, and possibly seek some counselling or CBT to reprogramme your brain into knowing it's perfectly ok if the odd person dislikes you - it doesn't make you a bad or unlikeable person.

I'm glad you're with someone nice now. It's bound to take time to trust him, but try and shout down those voices of insecurity when they crop up. If you weren't likeable your friends wouldn't have stuck by you, and you wouldn't have attracted your lovely new man.

womenfirst Mon 10-Aug-09 14:49:16

Hi Alias, sorry to hear about your worries and past problems.

I think first of all you need to try to build up your self esteem which understandably has been crushed by your past relationships and experiences.
Try writing down all your good qualities, I am caring, strong, kind, attractive etc etc. You could also ask a good friend to tell you what she thinks your good qualities are if you find it difficult to think of them yourself. Look at this list every day, looking in the mirror and reading them aloud. It doesn't matter if you feel stupid at first. You have had someone tell you for 20 years that you are the opposite of these things and you need to start realising that that was rubbish. I'm sure you believed him at the time that you were fat, ugly (or whatever he said to you). You need to start to tell yourself nice things, and just as you believed him about the bad things you will start to believe these good things. Whats more, you will realise that his opinion (or anyone elses for that matter) does not matter in the slightest, what matters is what you think about yourself. If you can let yourself believe that you are attractive, caring, kind, a good friend etc you won't have to have relationships (romantic or with friends or family) where you are looking to confirm this- you will already know yourself that you are.

You can also try doing things that you know you are good at, for example if you are good at drawing, get some pens out and draw and enjoy feeling competent at these things, whatever they may be. This will also help build your self esteem and help you feel good about yourself.

The next thing I would suggest, especially in terms of your new relationship) is that you really listen to your feelings. Lots of people post on here about their partners doing such and such, is this ok or not? The only thing that matters is if you think it is ok, and the only way you can tell if you do is by listening to your feelings. If you feel hurt, sad or even if you feel numb then there is a problem that you need to address. Don't ignore your feelings, they are the true indicators of what is actually going on and will give you a much better insight than someone else's opinion or even your own reasoning. You have probably spent a long time in your abusive relationship supressing and denying your feelings. You need to learn to listen to them again.

You can do little exercises throughout the day, like stopping for a minute, closing your eyes and thinking about how you are feeling and allowing yourself to feel that. Remember to use actual 'feeling words' when you are thinking, like anxious, ashamed, guilty, elated, etc. What I mean is, for example, if you think "I feel like I don't want to be here" not wanting to be there is not a feeling, its a thought. Instead try to work out what you are feeling that is making you not want to be there, for example "I feel bored and a little impatient in this meeting. That's why I don't want to be here." Then let yourself feel what it is like to feel bored. Explore the feeling, what is it doing to you physically? Is your head hanging, are your fingers drumming, are your eyes out of focus?

The more you listen, recognise, understand and allow yourself to feel these feelings the better handle you will have on all situations in your life, not just your romantic relationships. You will learn to trust yourself and if you think something wrong, you will know that something is wrong because of how you are feeling and then you can take the necessary steps to address it.

For example, you say you are afraid of letting yourself trust your new partner. How do you feel when you are with him? How do you feel when you argue? How do you feel when he is nice to you? You will know when something is 'not right'. And if it isn't then you can talk to him about it, try to sort it out, or you can leave at any time. Because you don't need him to feel good about yourself. You are the only person that needs to feel good about yourself.

So to get you started, you are not pathetic, as you said in your post. You are asking for help with something that you think is a problem. So you can put "self aware, perceptive, strong and insightful" on your list of good qualities. Go and tell yourself you are these things in front of a mirror and believe them!

Best of luck xxx

lilacclaire Mon 10-Aug-09 15:29:16

Was very like you previously, its horrible isnt it.

No easy answer, I had 6 months with a psychologist to work on low self esteem and it worked. I had CBT.

You don't come out thinking your the bee's knees or anything just that your not as bad as you think and no-one else is that great either lol.

Its kind of, well 'normal' which itself is a fantastic feeling.

I got mine through the nhs and had to wait 6 months for an appointment, but its so worth it, my relationship was suffering, in fact everything was suffering.

AliasSmithorJones Mon 10-Aug-09 19:00:38

thank you very much for your kind words

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