Tag Archives: self esteem

What’s in the belly of the monster?

There is a time for everything:  a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to grieve and a time to dance, a time to love and a time to hate, a time to embrace and a time to turn away.  Where are you in your life? 

We live our short existence in seasons, and that’s ok, because there is a time and place for almost everything under the sun. But for some of us, we find ourselves ensnared in one never-ending season:  winter.  

I think back to my days as a younger woman in her early twenties. I had lost my father to depression and alcoholism and was left alone to my own devices.  I had no siblings and a dysfunctional relationship with my mother. I found myself in a place filled with turmoil and unhappiness. I even tried to end my life.  But eventually I found God and was pulled out of the muck and mire.  I was happier again – for a short while – before slipping back into the arms of a former lover, that is, the comfortable misery I had once known.

I can truly imagine how Jonah must have felt when he was swallowed by the whale!  In my opinion, the belly of the monster [depression] is a dark, cold and desolate place to be trapped in.  Yet, I’ve been in this place before; I’ve actually come full circle! While crying helplessly in the shower yesterday, apparently for no reason whatsoever, it dawned on me that I’m familiar with this feeling of despair.  I am also concerned about how much of the so-called depression gene I have inherited from my father. Perhaps I really do suffer from dysthymia?

Melencolia I. Print of Albrecht Dürer

Melencolia I. Print of Albrecht Dürer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to research, the Greek word dysthymia refers to a ‘bad state of mind’ or ‘ill humour’.  It is characterised as one of the two forms of clinical depression, although it apparently has less serious symptoms than major depression, but lasts longer.  The American Psychiatric Association defines dysthymia as a depressed mood most of the time for at least two years, along with at least two of the following symptoms: poor appetite or overeating; insomnia or excessive sleep; low energy or fatigue; low self-esteem; poor concentration or indecisiveness; and hopelessness.  Some experts surmise that dysthymia ‘runs in families and probably has a hereditary component’. Other proposed symptoms of dysthymia include ‘a strong tendency to be critical of oneself and others, pessimism, guilt, brooding and gloominess’.

Where I am, I don’t want to be. I feel as if I’m mourning the life I wanted to have. I know I have so much to be thankful for, so much to celebrate – right now I’m just in the belly of the monster, and I can’t find the exit sign!

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A cheater’s guilt – the 1st instalment

It’s time.  Time to share a slice of the sordid Teatart pie – details pertaining to a part of my life that I try to keep hidden as best as possible.

In four words:  “I am a cheater“.  A mask of shame and disgrace I don every day of my life.  It’s the ugly twin that I try to disown, yet without it I would not be the person I am today.  For that I can be grateful.

Before I actually cheated, I looked down in abject disdain at other people who had seemingly tossed their marriage vows to the wolves and committed adultery.  I simply couldn’t understand what would cause a person to act so selfishly.  I even went so far as to question their value system and morals.

Marriage Day

Then I fell into the trap so many others have fallen into. A lethal combination of low self-esteem and lack of emotional fulfilment in my marriage rendered me weak to the flattery of a younger man. He had a crush on me, and I loved the attention.  While my husband of eight years kept putting off my requests to start a family, this young man told me exactly what I needed to hear.  He helped to quell the feelings of inadequacy and rejection that I had kept in check under a thin veil of nonchalance and sarcastic humour.  But it was a lie – a good one – but a lie non-the-less.  I sacrificed my reputation and my marriage; worse, I hurt a good man who had only ever tried to love me.

Hindsight is a wonderful luxury that few of us can afford. If only I had paid heed to the warning signs.  If only I had not met him.  If only I had been stronger.  If only … The crux is that I chose to put my own needs before that of my marriage vows. I broke my promise to be faithful.

cheating

cheating (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I know much has been said and written on the topic of infidelity. I subscribe to many blogs in which the core topic revolves around this very discussion point.   Over the years, I have read many a book and article on the topic.  Moreover, the point of infidelity has been key in several of my counselling sessions with two different therapists.

The marriage therapist my ex-husband and I sought out at the time described the situation to me in simple terms:  we all have a list of needs in a relationship and we attach different priorities to those needs.  My need for physical and emotional intimacy began to outweigh the other needs on my list, until finally it overpowered everything else.

Some people endeavour to alleviate their pain through drinking, gambling and pornography, amongst other distractions.  An affair was my exit.  Now I live with the regret of one really bad decision made in a moment of pure insecurity and weakness. 

Nothing can accurately describe the guilt of a cheater.  The partner we cheated on is not the only person who gets hurt.  We hurt ourselves too!  And sometimes that hurt can never truly be healed.

Physical attractiveness is just skin deep

I recently read a very interesting article by relationship expert Tracey Cox on why men prefer average women. It got me thinking.

It’s no secret that women often misunderstand what men look for in a women. Tracey Cox points that, in terms of long-term relationships, women think men are looking for beauty, youth, a perfect body, confidence and intelligence, when in actual fact men are looking for women with more important characteristics such as kindness, the ability to listen and being trustworthy, amongst others.

Physical attractiveness

“Study after study shows while men pay lip service to being hung up on physical attractiveness, once they interact with a woman in real life, they’re far more swayed by personality than they profess to be”, she writes.

Not that this is to say that physical attraction is not very important, because it is!  The point is really that when choosing a life partner, thankfully men don’t just judge a book by its cover; they are looking for a packaged deal.

Mr Teatart Hubbie is testimony to all of this.  He once explained to me that I am his “packaged deal”. In the past he apparently sought out women who were very athletic and not always the brightest, but he re-looked his selection criteria after several failed relationships and prioritised what was important to him.

English: Studio portrait photo of Betty Grable...

Voila! [Enter little ol’ me.] Whilst I am definitely curvier than his average ex-girlfriend and consider exercise a dirty word that immediately qualifies for a good mouth washing with soap, I have many other qualities that apparently constitute a “good catch”.  Note these are not my words (and hopefully not his attempt to simply score brownie points either).

My husband saw the whole picture, not just the outside appearance. As a person with a low self esteem and poor body image, this is truly an epiphany! With his help, I am slowly learning to love myself!  That means loving every blasted curve, those two skew teeth, the scars, the straight hair and the combination skin too!

I raise my wine glass in toast to all the men out there who look past the physical and see more.  There’s hope for all us “non-super model” women after all!

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