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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 146
How long has it been since your addict partner told you that you were beautiful, or pretty, or attractive, or sexy? How often did he tell you throughout his addiction? I would guess it has been a rare occurrence throughout your relationship (I’m not including the early attraction phase). I know it’s a cultural mandate that women should be modest about their looks and it’s up to others to tell a woman she’s beautiful. Meanwhile we’re supposed to be telling each other that we’re all beautiful on the inside. But f*** all of that. At my lowest ebb I believed I was “too ugly” and “not good enough” and an “embarrassment” to my husband who treated me as if I was below his standard. Now I know that was so messed up.

This week I was watching a TV drama alone. There was an mature actress (late 40s) who has a lot of male fans online. She is undoubtedly attractive and sexy. In this episode, one of the male characters described how he saw her — as beautiful, sexy and so on. (It was relevant to the storyline, I must stress here.) I recall my husband being rather critical of this actress when he was in his addiction. He said something like “has she looked in the mirror lately?” My husband is about 15 years older than her. I remember thinking, “if that’s what he thinks of this very attractive woman on TV, then how does he see me?” I knew how he saw me. Or rather, I knew that he didn’t “see” me. If I was standing naked in front of him I might as well have been wearing an invisibility cloak. I knew he thought my breasts were too small, and that I was pretty much sexless too him. When he made that comment about the actress, it told me a lot about how he saw women.

I’m not vain but I know I’m OK. I always was OK. I’m still an attractive woman. I still have a good figure. I don’t expect to be 21 forever. Most intelligent people with a healthy perception of life know this. I bet every one of us can see beauty in all ages. Sometimes beauty is from within, sometimes from without, but it’s usually a mixture of both. Of confidence, attitude, how someone moves. Yet when you are beaten down, starved of human touch and expressions of affection, when you know you are not valued, when you know that an essential part of your being has been disrespected, when you have been betrayed, not once or twice but over and over, for years and years, you don’t feel beautiful. You don’t feel worthy. I can remember believing that “of course I cannot expect my husband to tell me I’m beautiful because my beauty is long gone”. What BS I was believing!

I’d go online and watch YouTube and watch someone like Stevie Nicks and her fans, obviously male, were saying that she’s still beautiful because to those guys, who have aged just as she has, have a healthier perception of mature beauty. Unlike my husband. I’d read those comments and I’d wish I could be married to a man who appreciated a mature woman’s beauty. My husband would look at a woman considerably younger than the aforementioned Ms N and say “has she looked in the mirror lately?” It broke my heart to know that there were better men than my husband out there. I know that’s a superficial and shallow judgement but after decades of being treated like a sexual leper by your own husband, where he’d happily jack off to images of faked up sex with young women 25 or 30 or 35 years younger, well, it just made me feel sad.

These days, my husband rarely tells me I’m beautiful. But he sexually objectifies me. There’s a difference between appreciation and objectification. The last time he told me I was beautiful was when he told me someone else told him I was beautiful. So he told me. Once. And not since. This week I watched the TV drama and the actress, or the character she was playing, was described as “beautiful”. And I thought about how my husband couldn’t see it. Because she’s “too old” or somehow not up to his standards. I just feel sad. Addiction f***s up how they see women, and it has f****d up how they see us.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:08 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 635
Blue, I really hear you. I can count on one hand the times my husband ever said anything nice about my appearance.

I had to heal from this. As long as your husband is not fully recovered, he will continue to hurt you unless you create huge boundaries. But, honestly, even with boundaries, the reality of my husband's past behavior and thinking, and my deep distrust today makes it always hurt. It just hurts less and less often.

It doesn't help that the culture is stacked against us as well.

My husband's addiction skewed younger and younger. Remember "teen" is the biggest porn search term. I fear for young girls. My husband's perception of beauty was skewed by porn and by the constant sexualized ads featuring women and girls bodies. All air brushed, most surgically altered. Ugh.

He as well NEVER looked in the mirror. I think he only was aware of his craving and so objectified females that he never considered how we would look at him. I don't think that ever entered his mind about whether or not we would find him attractive. I think he felt unworthy most of the time, but while in his addictive trance, that disappeared. Female bodies were his to assess and take. Period.

If your husband can't talk to you about this in a loving, honest and healing way, I think your only option is to continue to detach. I find I heal more with women my age who I can spend time with doing things that have nothing to do with how we look.

dnell


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:57 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
Posts: 146
I would definitely agree that as older women we find far more meaning in our interests and activities, and our friendships, than the shallow preoccupation of seeking a man’s approval about our appearance. That’s something that we all used to grow out of as our lives moved on to the next stage after late adolescence and into early adulthood. Women used to talk about feeling more confident in every way as they grew older, and that appearance mattered less as the years went by. When I found myself caught up in a relationship with someone with a sexual addiction, that process was turned upside down. I feel that my partner’s addiction has stolen an important part of moving forward from one life stage into the next.

Instead of growing and expanding I retreated into a shrinking self. In a sense, I felt that I had become like a “spinster” character, living this lonely existence devoid of human touch and intimate connection. I didn’t want anyone to know the reality of my marriage. Looking back, it took a lot of mental energy to maintain a self that was an act. I had to act as if my husband’s loss of sexual interest in me wasn’t really happening. I put on a front. Everything was OK. I was OK. I put my husband’s behaviour just beyond my consciousness. If I began to think about it, I’d pretend it wasn’t really happening. If I began to think about it, I’d blame myself anyway. I held that cliched and destructive belief that the problem was rooted in my failure. I now see that was a considerable burden to carry around in my head for all those years. AND put on a happy face.

The bizarre thing with me was that whatever I was denying, it manifested in ways that are typically associated with adolescence. Disordered eating, specifically food restriction, becoming underweight and feeling “safe” at a below normal BMI, the body being a focus for anxiety. It was crazy. I had gone through adolescence and early adulthood without ever having dieted or any issues about weight. Yet there I was, a midlife woman with body dysmorphia and fearful of the harm that eating could do to me. I had no clue that eating disorders could manifest at peri/menopause until I looked it up online. It’s not well documented but it happens. For me, eating was the only thing in my life I felt in control of. Looking back this was crazy. I was clearly in a bad place but I couldn’t see it.

I’m still trying to make sense of what living in the shadow of someone else’s sexual addiction has done to my sense of self. It is very unsettling. I feel that I’ve lost a significant part of my life and a significant part of myself to my husband’s addiction. Whatever it took from me, whatever I had to give up in order to deal with it, I don’t think it’s possible or realistic to have now. I feel that I have to do for myself all that I feel that my relationship lacks.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:32 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:22 am
Posts: 151
So true,
This is how I feel, instead of decades of growth, and blossoming, becoming confortable with myself.. I was caught up in the rejection of my husband, so I diminished as a woman, as a grown up person.. When I had thought I would be co fident, and secure and connected to someone I had been married to for over thirty years..
I did, do get the odd compliment, but not when I need to hear one.. And not genuine compliments, usually hollow objectifying comments, ie you look sexy.. To be followed shortly by me being totally looked through, so my mind would be thinking why us he ignoring, rejecting me if five minutes ago ge said I looked sexy..
I can only say since starting my recovery journey I am learning I don't need his validation, and realising just how much of my self I lost over the years.


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