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PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2015 3:57 pm 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 661
I was hesitant to write this post, and then thought, heck, I'm not an addict...I can be honest and transparent. As we know, our partners, in the course of their addiction, openly and covertly devalued our appearance, our sensuality, our femininity. Given how much the male partners objectify female bodies, it is painful to even think about how they viewed us. One of the things I read from a sex addiction counselor, is that the SA wants to keep us around, but does not want to have sex with us (due to the intimacy order) and due to the fact the addict want to pursue their acting out. One of the ways they achieve this goal is to demean and devalue our appearance, and blame us for our lack of sensuality. And, we know from research that the more porn that is viewed, the more unattractive we look to our partners. Given the culture for women and the awful messages we get about our appearance, and the fact that if we live we age, it is devastating to have our partners demean us.

I have been working really hard on restoring some sense of self worth about my appearance, my body, my sensuality. I am going to sound a bit like one of those self help magazine articles for teenage girls, and I'm 57!, but the following things have helped me.

I was on "my husband is a SA diet" and lost quite a bit of weight. (I know other women gain weight from the stress). I have used this as an opportunity to eat more healthy and to get more exercise. Self care lesson one.

I am going to sign up for yoga and pilates. I am going to get massages.

I have brought a new wardrobe. Yes, I'm going broke, and, no, I can't do this forever, but this has really helped me. I bought some nice things, things with colors. I am daring myself to look good again. I buy nice fabrics that feel good. I feel feminine. I feel confident. I even feel sexy. It's great.

I go out when I feel good. I smile at everyone. I smile warmly at everyone. I'm amazed at the beautiful, warm smiles I get in return. I get them from young women, old women, children, men. It's wonderful. If a nice middle aged man smiles at me, I smile back. A big smile. A warm smile. It's nice.

I changed my hairstyle. I've invested in coloring my hair.

I'm just starting to wear jewelry again. My stuff. Stuff I got from people before I married.

I'm going to a professional photographer to get some photos of me. When I look in the mirror, I can still seem so tired and drawn. I don't want to always look like this.

I have set boundaries with my partner about my body: no negative comments. no comparative comments to other women or to my younger self. My body is sacred. I know I am still being objectified, but that doesn't mean I have to objectify myself.

I have set boundaries about comments about other women/girls' bodies: no comments at all... none.

I truly believe that as I get to know people, their beauty changes. If they are wonderful people, they seem more beautiful to me. It they are mean or nasty, they seem less beautiful to me. This is the opposite of objectification. In my mind, this is seeing people in their totality with all their wonderful complexity. "Attractiveness" is just one piece of beauty to me.

Never again will I not allow myself to invest in feeling good about myself.


PostPosted: Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:20 pm 
Partner's Mentor

Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:38 pm
Posts: 515
Thank you for bringing this for discussion, dnell, and for sharing your own personal experiences and boundaries around this.

I really appreciate how you've shifted to radical (well, is it really that radical? sheesh!) self care.

For me, the SA issues in my marriage were a catalyst to begin a significant weight loss regimen. The ways and intent in which it was catalyzed were not healthy at the time. They reflected my perception as being the problem as ME.

However, choosing to focus on my health ultimately evolved from that and into something much more balanced and healthier. I lost about 50 pounds, and initially thought this loss would give me much-needed self-esteem in my marriage.

What it gave me was much-needed self-esteem for MYSELF.

(in my case this is weight that really needed to be lost health wise to get me out of the obesity camp and into a healthy weight).

I did some other 'unhealthy' things about my appearance in an attempt to fix or control the situation. For example, I changed from being a blonde to a redhead, thinking the change would make me sparkle in my husband's eyes.

But over time, as I began to detach from him, I noticed I stopped caring about my appearance. At times I would purposely not focus on feeling good about my appearance as a means of rebellion against my husband. This was not healthy, either.

Where I am at now is a balanced place.

I take care of my appearance for ME. For no one else's validation or recognition but my own. If I put on blush in the morning, it's because it makes me feel feminine and special.

I'm fortunate to have a lovely Goodwill in my town, and my mom helps select pretty pieces that are high quality.

I spend a bit extra on my hair color, for me. I feel good when I see it looking like something I chose just for me.

I spend a little bit extra on nice lotions and bath bombs.

And there are days when I feel like plain Jane and this is OK, too. I accept there are days when I don't want to spend extra care in what I wear or how I Look, and becoming comfortable with that woman, too, and her worth is critical. No longer do I tie my worth in any way to how my external appearance is.

At the same time, I watch my health and diet. It's an act of love. It is in honor to my body, which will likely be with me for years to come, and my emotional and physical stability. If I eat well, I feel good. I have more energy, less aches and pains.

No longer will I comment on any person's appearance to my husband (or to others, for that matter). I ignore him if/when he makes any comments on how someone looks.

Embracing my femininity is a work in progress. It will require some sustained efforts. I've been so detached from it for so long that it's hard to know what it feels like to be more in a feminine type of energy. An area of struggle for me is around dresses and skirts: despite my general balanced feelings about my body, I still hold a belief about my legs. Never have they been remotely in the ballpark of the specific body type of legs that were/are my husband's ideal. Even though I care little for whatever his standards may be, it seems engrained in me, perhaps even before him, that my legs are better hidden under pants. Some of these messages came from my mother, who hates her legs, too. These are not easy messages to evolve.

Leaving Asia helped, a lot. Every culture has its share of issues, stories, beliefs, stereotypes. The ones there are more exceptionally unkind toward appearance than we face even in the west.

Culturally, even without the SA in our lives, we internalize messages about a woman's worth being tied to her looks. The other day I read a piece from a self-proclaimed feminist who said as much as she was relieved (at around age 35) to no longer be subject to catcalls from men on the NYC streets, part of her was dismayed. She felt she had become invisible.

We grapple with these things as women, and as partners of SAs we grapple even more. Our internal belief systems may be deeper rooted because of the years of ongoing invalidation and outright cruelty from some of our partners. And when we see this echoed culturally across the spectrum, by both men and women, it's a challenge to remind ourselves of our worth.

The best validation comes from ourselves. It's not an easy road to get there, to self validate. And, in doing so, it's not necessarily finished or complete. There are still the old messages and beliefs to work through.

I seek mentors in women older than me. Their wisdom and beauty inspires me to be kinder to myself, and to see my own inherent beauty. Recently I picked up the book, "Women Who Run with the Wolves" and am curious about how it might help me reshape my dog-eared beliefs.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:46 am
Posts: 40
I really appreciate this topic. :)

Firstly, when I read about other partners and the SA's in their lives belittling their appearance, my heart aches for you. That is just cruel. That, and the lack of desire to have sex with me is not something I've experienced much of, if any.

He finds me attractive, but I think I am being objectified, still. Our relationship lacks intimacy in other ways. He often will not connect with me properly on a conversational level. We go through periods of happiness and then it is though those are erased. I asked him today to think of one time I've let him down, and he could not. But he presents himself to others frequently as someone struggling and alone. He is loved and supported and often quite happy and connected to our life together. He acknowledges this, but also acknowledges that he somehow forgets this. Anyway...back to the point. I do not feel valued as a person.

I realized in my twenties that if a man is drawn to me for my appearance, there is always someone else better looking/newer/shinier...Now I am in my early forties. There are definitely more physically attractive women all over the place. What sets me apart from everyone else is of course the character traits that make me me. I try to focus on these, but when I feel misunderstood or devalued, I admit this sometimes falls down. (I like the saying "I have myself." Because we do, always, at least have ourselves, and we should believe in ourselves...)

I admit, though, appearance is still an issue. I'm at that age when my looks are fading. It is damn near impossible to have your guy obsessed with other women's bodies and not feel inadequate or insecure.

I started working out. First, like you all, with his preferences in mind, and then I realized that's futile, because there is always someone else to ogle, right, with a perkier this or that? Then I started liking the changes in myself. I enjoy taking care of myself. Then my bf admitted when I left the house he found my workout website and had a big perving session on the workout lady. I was crushed and felt like he'd ruined this whole part of my life for me. And then I just decided to stick that where it belonged: that was the addict. I hate that guy. Not my bf, I can love him, but hate his addictive behavior, I decided. I pushed it aside and kept working out.

I've just started doing facial acupressure, and facial exercises.

I too do Pilates and yoga...(great for stress relief, too.)

I've started working on my posture. I've always had a shy person's hunched shoulders.

I eat well.

Also, I try to watch funny videos sometimes, or comedies, and the like, or find something to joke around about. I know this doesn't directly relate to our appearance, but laughing really helps me detach from whatever is worrying me and get some healthy perspective. I really feel better about everything after a good laugh.

I have started looking online to buy nighties, because I think in my 40's, maybe I can stop sleeping in old t-shirts. I feel I've suppressed my womanliness and attractiveness a lot in my life, and let that just be something other women have. After the shock and initial awful feelings of his sex addiction surfacing, I decided to grab some of that back--to let myself be a woman and pamper myself a little, not be a complete wallflower. However, I had to tinker at first, to make sure I was not just trying to compete with his addiction. (I kind of struggle with this, and resent it a little: that I find it hard to express or develop my own sexuality without worrying about somehow playing into his addiction.)

I feel I am getting better at just caring for myself now and holding myself better.

I still do see photos or women out and about and involuntarily think about how much he'd probably like them/their bodies. But oh well. Ultimately this is about valuing myself. Perhaps not all of the women posing and flaunting out there properly value themselves. Perhaps some of them do, but whatever..."I have myself."

Kudos to you ladies looking after yourselves. I am sure if I saw any of you I would find you beautiful, given that beauty comes from within.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:53 am 

Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:40 am
Posts: 663
Hello ladies! It's been quite awhile since I have posted on here, but I was glad to see this topic. I have found these kinds of things to be hugely helpful for me as well. I am in the process of divorcing my DH. This year, I have spent a small fortune on 'personal care' items such as skincare, nicer makeup, etc. I have bought some new clothes, making sure they fit well, and some nice undergarments for when wearing skirts, slips, etc. I have also found myself spending more time on these things, such as doing my makeup instead of ignorning it. When I was with H, towards the end of our relationship, things were so bad. I was depressed, having panic attacks, etc, and Ididn't put much effort into my appearance. Ikind of just rolled my hair up into a ponytail and threw on some mascara and decent clothing. I just didn't care. It seemed so unimportant since it often felt he was just using me for sex anyway and he never really -- for lack of a better way of putting this-- noticed your face anyway. Once, when we were separated, he even indicated that he wanted to continue the sexual relationship casually (what?!?) and it often seemed as if feminity didn't matter. Now that I am starting over, I have found that taking care of myself--even in these rather 'vain' and what may seem a bit shallow ways, has really helped my confidence. I grew my hair, and am investing in getting good trims and a body wave. I have tried various skincare lines to see which ones are best for me, and started using some anti-aging peels on a semi regular basis that are fabulous and have really cleared up what was left of my persistent very small but always there acne. While I don't know if I would say my reason at first for doing these things was entirely healthy (I generally thought, "guess if I ever want men to be interested, I better look better than Ido now"), that reason has morphed more into me doing it for me. While I certainly don't believe that a woman's value comes from her appearance, Ido think it has helped me to feel more confident knowing that I have invested in myself. I have also tried to clean up my diet (I lost about 10 pounds towards the end of things, from stress, and have gained most of it back), and to get appropriate sleep. I intend to add a regular exercise routine (I do exercise, but tend to be pretty lazy about being consistent with it) by joining a gym after I move for my new job. That would add a level of accountability for me, since I hate to waste money, I'll feel obligated to go regualrly since I am spending money for it. And I, like someone else mentioned, have tried to be kind in general, which also helps. And every Monday--because Mondays are crappy Mondays--Ido a little 'spa' for myself at home. Generally I relax in a bubble bath with some music in the background and then do a peel or a mask for face and hair. It's just once a week, but it really is nice 'me time.'

I suppose, all that to say, it helps tremendously to 'reclaim your feminity' for yourself. It truly adds confidence to your day. I have noticed, that even though the divorce has been devastating, and even though I am crushed that he moved on so fast (he started dating very indiscreetly just three or four months after I left, and now has a girlfriend--and we aren't even divorced yet, which Ifound rather sickening and made me feel as though Iwas absolutely nothing to him), and even though I have not forgiven him yet, and am still very angry at him, self-care (and a good counselor!)has helped tremendously.

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