CW – disordered eating.
I am struggling to feel sexual in my relationship at the moment after my SO made some hurtful comments about my weight.
I’d had a bit of a late night and had agreed to go hiking in the morning with my SO but woke up and not feeling like it. I dragged myself out because I could see that he was annoyed and looking forward to getting the dogs out the house. Why we were hiking we were talking about my up coming stopping smoking day and he was like ‘you struggled with putting on weight last time you stopped smoking’ and ‘I remember how active you were when we first met – your body has changed’. I’m not going to justify his comments because I didn’t think it’s okay and I have called him out on how to constructively talk about health and motivating each other in a relationship to achieve our health goals.
But, I’m left reeling, feeling insecure, feeling un-sexy and quite triggered because as a younger teenager I struggled with disordered eating (specifically bulimia). I’ve worked really hard to have a great relationship with my body, my sexuality and delicious food and are proud to say I’ve kicked that demon in the butt.
He’s apologised and we’ve agreed to move on but I don’t want to be naked around him and certainly don’t feel sexy at all. We had a great sexual relationship up to this point but now I feel completely paralyzed with fear about getting down with my SO.
What do I do to start feeling good about my body again? My partner knows how hurtful his comments were and I have explained that it’s triggered me and that I don’t want to be naked etc. He’s very apologetic/supportive and trying to do his best to make me feel very loved. I feel like this was a slip up on his behalf but it’s sent me back to body shaming land and also I feel like if I do continue to take the steps to be more active in my life that I am doing it for him and not for me and I hate that.
Where do I start? Any suggestions would be helpful please.
@stephaniaaaah I am hearing you so hard on all of this. I know I would have and HAVE reacted exactly the same way when someone very close to me, and especially an intimate partner has made comments like this. You are not alone. I cannot imagine how anyone ever thinks it’s okay to make a comment like that, but I suppose we are all human and we all slip up.
Your question though was about how you start feeling good about your body again after this set back…my question to you is, how did you do it before? You must hold infinite wisdom about what your particular body and soul needs to hear to have overcome bulimia in the past. You’ve done it before and you can totally do it again. I would also definitely let your SO try to make it up to you. Allow yourself to luxuriate in the ways he is trying to make you fee loved and really hear him when he compliments you and your body. You deserve that. Your intrusive thoughts about your body were lying to you as a teenager and they’re lying to you now. As far as I can see, there are two relationships that need love- the one between your SO and you, and the one between your body and you. Perhaps your body needs to hear from you what you need to hear from your SO…?
I believe in you! Please keep us updated.
So sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with this @stephaniaaaah. It can be so hard when someone you’re so vulnerable with, like a SO, makes a comment like that. Even if it is off-hand, it can really sting deep.
@earthmama makes a great point – you can take confidence knowing that you’ve done this before, and you can do this again. Relationships with our bodies can be in constant flux, so I think the most important thing is to make sure you don’t feel pressure to regain confidence, or feeling sexy. It’s not your fault you’re feeling this way, and it’s not your fault that you’re not feeling sexy right now.
For the time being, if feeling ‘sexy’ isn’t happening right now, maybe try and focus on other positive aspects about your body – can you be comfortable in it because you wear clothes and accessories you love? Can you be grateful for it because it gets you to wear you need to go? I think little steps towards practising appreciating how amazing your body really is could be another way of getting the ‘sexy’ feeling back.
you are so right @earthmama I really wanted to to focus on key body love points like reminding myself that my value is not based on my looks and also to reassess my health goals.
The first week after the comment was pretty low for me. I loathed myself when I was looking in the mirror and was using quite a lot of negative body shaming language. I have been journaling a fair bit as part of an artist recovery program (the artists way) so I started to use the journal to figure out where my health values lay and to work through the body shaming. It got really back to basics i.e. I wrote down all of the great things about me, all of the things I like to do, my overall goals for 2020 and what makes me happy. I then got to the nitty gritty of why I felt bad / triggered and worked through the fact that I would never body shame anyone else (even Donald Trump!) so why would I do that to myself. I started looking at my health goals and was able to admit to myself that yes my body is going to change but I am not being true to my values of being strong and able to do anything that I set my mind too i.e. I like to know that I can build a garden bed or hold my arms up long enough to change a lightbulb without them hurting so I’ve set some health and fitness goals that are aligned with my overall attitude – I am super relaxed but like to be capable – so it’s just small changes to my day and some slightly healthier options. On top of that I’ve been free from the cigarettes for 10 days now and that’s really helped me to believe in myself and all the good in me.
Soooo to the feeling sexy again – I am not quite there like you say @aunt_flo it doesn’t have to be. I have gone back to not being worried about my partner seeing me nude in the last week which is HUGE and focussing on having great put together outfits and feeling cute. I think it helped that we finally had sex although I was really freaking out internally like ‘oh my god we haven’t had sex for a couple of weeks and i’m nervous and what if I don’t have it anymore etc etc’ (LOL) it was pretty great. My SO was really kind, cute and communicating well and made it all about me so whilst I didn’t feel like the sexual goddess I am used too – I enjoyed myself and was able to be in the moment rather than worry about what I looked like. Slowly slowly but yes feeling MUCH better about my body x
I’m so glad to hear you’re making a bit of progress @stephaniaaaah! That’s really, really positive.
Good on you for taking the time to appreciate and work on yourself. 🙂 🙂
Thank you for the update @stephaniaaaah! Obviously body positivity and self is a forever work in progress, but I so admire how actively you are working to improve your mental state.
I also love what you said about changing lightbulbs and building garden beds. For a few summers I worked as a camp counsellor at a summer camp in the US. For three months we were in the wilderness- kids, teenagers and young adults- showering rarely, running around all the time, being creative and authentic and free. The food at camp was heavily lacking in nutritional value and was very processed, but I have never felt better about my body in my whole life. I attribute this to a few things: being constantly outdoors, hardly any mirrors and no full length mirrors, but mostly I think it is because everyone valued one another for what our bodies could do and not how they looked. The kids didn’t care if you wore make up, but they really did care whether you played soccer with them. You were considered very cool if you could build a fire, carry all the food for the cookout and chop wood. I am reminded of a line from the book ‘Bodies’ by Susie Orbach (who was Princess’ Diana’s therapist) where she writes that, ‘our bodies have gone from being a means of production, to being the production themselves.’
How splendid would it be to get back to a time where we feel great in our bodies when they are strong, nourished and in the sunshine.