My Confession

I was fifteen years old when my body issues surfaced. Most people would be shocked to know how much I struggle to accept my body. By the time I was a sophomore in high school I was 5’8” tall, I wore a 34C bra and I weighed in at 115 pounds. I would stand in front of my bedroom full-length mirror naked every night and cringe. Grabbing pieces of my body in disgust, sucking in my stomach and wishing I looked more waif-like. Every morning when I went into my bathroom I would measure the side of my waist against the tiles on the wall. I would not allow my waist to grow wider than one tile. Those 4 x 4 inch tiles controlled my mind.

The summer before my sophomore year I decided I needed to weigh 100 pounds and I don’t even know what propelled this thought. I knew I would have to take drastic measures to reach this goal but I was prepared. I allowed myself one meal a day—dinner. I chose dinner because I knew my parents would notice if I stopped eating and I wanted to avoid confrontation. Other than dinner I was allowed water and two Tic Tacs a day (in place of breakfast and lunch). I chose Tic Tacs because I knew that each piece was only two calories. I also adopted a new exercise regimen, on top of my normal athletics. The first day was the most difficult but I adapted to my new diet and my body seemed to stop protesting the lack of nutrition it was receiving after only a few days.

In about two weeks, I weighed in at 105 pounds. I could see the results on the scale but the mirror was still reflecting the same image. I still hated my body. I still saw the same flaws. There was no rationality to what I saw when I looked at myself. I envied the bodies of models like Christy Turlington and Kate Moss.

My weight-loss plan ended when my best friend began hanging out with me 24/7. It became impossible for me to not eat around her and much to my dismay; I have never been able to make myself vomit. So I allowed myself to eat again and I repressed the thought that I may have an eating disorder for a few more years.

The problem with repressing thoughts is that they have a way of resurfacing . My freshman year of college I was more afraid of gaining the freshman fifteen than anything. I realized no one was keeping track of my meals or eating patterns. No one, but me. I resumed my former habit of withholding food from myself. I allowed myself one bag of fat-free microwave popcorn during the day and then a cup of soup at night. I was exhausted from the lack of calories so I started drinking coffee—no cream, no sugar. I had to keep my calorie intake down. The effects of this on my body were impossible to ignore and my diet didn’t last long. Instead of withholding food, I joined a gym.

I began to work out every day, except Sunday, for one hour. Working out at the gym gave me a body that was ripped and solid. I began to like my body. When I looked in the mirror I still could point to flaws but I could also see muscles that were sexy. I bought my first bikini that year and I felt sexy. I began to like my body but I was still focused on the numbers on the scale. It bothered me that my new toned physique weighed in at 125 pounds. But I reminded myself that muscle weighs more than fat. Once again, I suppressed my eating disorder mindset.

I went seventeen years without falling back into starvation habits. In those seventeen years I fell in love, got married and gave birth to three beautiful children. On the day I discovered my husband’s affair I probably weighed about 138 pounds. For those previous seventeen years, I avoided weighing myself because of my previous issues with weight and body image. To be honest, I was not happy with my weight but I was doing very little to change my exercise regimen.

Like most women, discovering my husband’s affair resulted in a complete lack of appetite. I think in the first three days I ate one banana. But this time was different from my past history with anorexia. I knew I needed to eat but I couldn’t. I remember forcing that banana down and struggling to keep it down. My body was rejecting food. To be painfully honest, this brought me some satisfaction. I wondered if I wasted away would my husband even notice?

I don’t remember the first time I weighed myself after my D-Day but I do remember seeing the numbers decrease on a regular basis. I didn’t really believe I would lose much more than eight or ten pounds because my appetite began to come back around month three. But my stomach could no longer handle a normal size portion of food and sometimes I am just not hungry. Today I weigh 122 pounds. When I strip down and stand in front of a mirror I still see all my flaws. I struggle to see my body as beautiful. I hear people compliment my body but I cannot see it.

The image my mind sees reflected in the mirror is irrational. I am acknowledging that this doesn’t make sense and I have a very unhealthy self-image. I’ve never spoken openly about this issue until these words were typed upon this page. I am still nervous about publishing this post. Somehow talking about my husband’s affair and the aftermath is easier than revealing this… So why am I writing this? I need to be honest with myself. I need to hold myself accountable.

In writing this post and exposing myself, I recognize how my issues share some similarities with my husband’s mindset while involved in his affair.  It wasn’t really based on anything real; neither of us acted because of something we truly believe. As much weight as I lose I still don’t see myself as better or feel great. The flickering moment of the scale telling me my weight is less than yesterday is my only high associated with my eating problems. And if the number is more than the day before then I feel like a failure, crap, disappointed in myself.  I hate feeling hungry. I hate the way my stomach churns when I haven’t eaten enough. I hate the headaches that come from withholding food from my body. And, I notice my moods are more extreme when I am hungry, thus the term: hangry. Anyone who has been hungry before can understand that it doesn’t feel good to starve. Sometimes I think it’s a cry for help or attention, but I also understand it’s about control. I can control my food intake even when I feel like everything else is out of my control. Is it crazy to compare this to what my husband may have felt while involved in his affair? Maybe. Maybe not.

Image borrowed from http://effectsofbodyimage.wordpress.com/

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18 thoughts on “My Confession

  1. Thank you for sharing, as I understand how hard this is to admit. Once again, I feel you’ve stolen the thoughts right outside of my head. I too have had the same body issues since high school and since DDay 6 months ago, I’ve lost 25lbs and still wasting away. Since the week following, I’ve always known it’s the one thing I have complete control over admist this turmoil. Thank you for being brave and sharing your private struggles with this. You are such a strong and insightful person, and I’m thankful for you sharing your story for all who can relate.

  2. thank you for sharing. I always come away with some new insight after reading your blog.

    you might be on to something in comparing your struggles to your husbands affair mind set… this is kind of where i am, trying to figure out my why… even if it isnt true, if it lets you feel just a little bit softer towards him, then let it be true. for you. *hugs*

    • I didn’t make the connection until I began writing yesterday. And then it became clear how if I can act in a way that I know is self-destructive and not good for me… then it gives me insight to how my husband could have been involved with his AP without really getting much satisfaction out of the affair.

  3. Even though I never had an eating disorder, after my husband’s affair, I initially wasted away due to stress followed by my need to control something. The something for me was food and cutting. I rationalized that if I were skinnier, he’d desire me more. Such a vicious circle. Even worse, he kept telling me how great I looked at 98 lbs!

    Thank you for sharing, it’s very brave of you.

  4. We could be the same person. I have always been thin – I graduated high school at 5’8″ and 110. In college I gained some weight, up to 125, and then went down to 118 after a boyfriend told me I was “getting fat” and I realized I was going to have to support myself after college and how difficult that would be (it is a way of controlling your life). I was up to a healthy 134 when I discovered my husband’s affair, and although I do not consider myself as having a disorder, I couldn’t stomach any food for over a month. I got down to 120 and frankly, it scared me. I’m now at 124 and very happy with my weight. Sometimes I think the obsessing over my weight helps to keep my mind from obsession over the affair…. Thank you for sharing this post.

    • I think in putting this down on paper I am making myself accountable not to lose any more weight. Like you, if I think about it rationally, I am content with my weight. But it’s a struggle. Thanks for sharing your story with me too.

  5. I understand how it feels, when everything in life can’t be controlled, and it’s hectic and stressful, the one thing you CAN control is your food intake and exercise. That’s the one thing you can control of everything in the world. I like to feel hungry…I feel empowered when I don’t eat, or deny myself food when I’m hungry. I do what a lot of people cannot do. Or, I should say, normal people…
    I haven’t ever been married, so I can’t say why people cheat. Sometimes it’s the attention the other person is giving them, it fools them into thinking THEY have feelings for this other person, but really don’t, and usually don’t figure it out until it’s too late.
    I don’t know if you guys are still together or not, or if he ever explained what had happened, but I hope that he would, maybe it would make things a little more clear for you…finding out the reasoning behind his actions.
    Good luck.

    • Hi, Thank you for your post and honesty too. I agree that there is an empowerment that comes from denying myself food–especially when I watch everyone around me eating. It makes me want it less.
      You hit the nail on the head about my husband getting involved in the affair for attention, the feeling of being this woman’s hero and the way she gave him false adoration. We are still together and repairing our marriage. I am gaining bits of clarity as I move along this path. I may never fully understand how he willingly crossed the line and entered into an affair, but I understand the reasons and situations that led to the betrayal.
      Thank you for reading and writing.

  6. I too lost weight after Dday. The first dday just floored me. I lost 40 lbs in a little over 3 months. I couldn’t physically swallow food. I forced myself to eat, but as often as not it came back up. No one got overly concerned because it so happened that a group of us a work had recently started our own game of biggest loser. Everyone thought I was really working hard to lose the extra pounds. I needed to lose about half of what I lost. There was no eating disorder. I had been a little on the heavy side.

    Now it’s one year after the 2nd dday. I’ve gained weight since last year. Some of it, maybe all of it, is related to a health issue that was discovered in the past year.

    Sometimes I wish I couldn’t eat so I could be skinny again. I’m in an 18 now, I had been down to a 6. As a tall woman, the size 6 was quite skinny on me.

    I haven’t had an eating disorder, but at times I think it would be the easiest way to be thin. But I also have to admit that I didn’t feel as beautiful as I had hoped when I was thinner. I wasn’t happy. being skinny didn’t fix that. Now truly my goal is a 10.

    I hope it gets easier for you. This is such a rough journey.

    • I hear you. The size on the tag of my jeans doesn’t make me feel better/worse if my internal equilibrium is off. I hope your health issues have been resolved and you are doing better. You shouldn’t have to deal with all this at once. Like you commented, this journey is rough enough on it’s own… being thrown any other curveballs is just wrong. I hope you are doing well too.

  7. I was so moved by this last post Your willingness to tell your secret resonated with me and I tried to reply earlier and my computer ate what I wrote — and it was good, too! What I was attempting to say was that since our DDay, I have felt unwillingly exposed. Everything, even the stuff I didn’t know I was holding on to, everything was stripped away the day I found out about his 16 month affair. It seemed like whenever I screamed and cried myself to exhaustion, I’d always say “I got nothin’ left.” It’s like all the things seen and unseen that I’ve used throughout my life for comfort or safety or confidence or attention just don’t matter any more. Maybe they worked for me at one point, but clearly they’re not working for me now. And having it all stripped away, I’m not sure I want any of it back anyway. What would be the point? My husband sold his soul for a foolish lie shared not with a friend, but a false reflection of who he thought he wanted to be. There’s nothing real or special in that. Once he was exposed, he says he realized he didn’t really want it anymore. She started looking manipulative and shallow. In fact, he now feels more whole than ever before. There’s nothing left – nothing that I used to believe in matters. You telling your secret, choosing to be that real and authentic — that’s the kind of honest I want to be. That’s the kind of honest relationship I want to have. Exposed, open, honest, transparent, true. I really don’t think I want anything but that.

    • I am not sure what you wrote before but that was very touching. I think before my husband’s affair I thought that the little insecurities each person in a marriage hides from the other weren’t important. I could see my husband’s insecurities but I would never say anything because I thought it was rude or mean to point out something that he didn’t discuss openly. And I was the same way. I kept from him those deep fears that should have been spoken. Those “secrets” were minor–but they speak volumes. If we cannot reveal our innermost thoughts, fears and truths to our mate then no wonder my husband was so afraid to tell me when his AP kissed him (before the affair began). He couldn’t tell me because he feared I would leave, accuse him of cheating (which he inevitably did do)…
      I feel like I’ve been stripped down too… and I don’t want our old marriage back. It was good but this is so much better.

  8. Please keep writing. You are the only person I’ve found who seems to truly want to know your husband’s mind and heart. In trying to know his inner world, you are doing some mighty hard work with your own. I think that’s what healing is about. And it’s very much a here and now, present kind of thing you’re doing, with depth and purpose. That really helps my own perspective which can be so unpredictable. I am plagued with thoughts of the other woman and because of the internet, it is awfully easy to keep watch on her even though she now lives 4 hours away. I don’t know what I’m looking for – maybe to see what it is he saw in her or maybe as a way to know where she is, like she’s going to secretly invade my life again if I don’t keep a look out. I know that’s not helpful, like you counting the tiles, but it gives me some sense of control. Writing this makes me feel ashamed – and I know that thinking about her and checking up on her is one of those secrets that can diminish the honest life I long to have.

    • You should never feel ashamed. I think every one of us betrayed spouses has googled and cyber-stalked our husband’s APs.
      I had this realization a long time ago too that my husband’s AP was stalking me during the affair. Even though we weren’t friends on FB she could see me through shared pages. She was watching me on Pinterest too. I blocked my husband’s AP from me on FB so I can’t see her either. I changed my name on Pinterest so she can’t find me easily but I am sure she can (if she knows who my sisters are–and she had a year of stalking before I found out). The AP was also viewing my husband’s LinkedIn profile on a regular (more than weekly) basis so we deleted our accounts. But I have to admit that every so often I type her name into google and see what she’s doing. And, yes, I feel like I am keeping tabs on her and preventing her from invading my life again too. I am trying not to anymore becausee the sight of her face makes me want to slap her… So I made a deal with myself that I would tell my husband if I looked her up–and telling him makes me feel lame and stupid–so I’ve stopped doing it. The AP can stalk me all she wants and she can be jealous of my life.

      Thanks for saying all those nice comments. You really get me and what I am seeking/trying to figure out.

  9. As many women, I relate. Too well. I’ve always had body image issues. No one thinks this of me bc everyone says I’m so confident. It’s a cover. If I act it then I feel it, right? But I didn’t. I was always the base cheerleader, the tough girl. I weighed maybe 125 lbs but hated being the “base” which to me meant, BIG. When I had my son, I had gone from 130 to 200. I had gestational diabetes and was gaining weight extremely fast. I couldn’t lose that weight for 7 years. I finally joined WW and got to 168. I was still unhappy. I learned, in my younger days, how to vomit though like you, I hated it so it wasn’t a daily occurrence. I didn’t have time or money to exercise (or motivation) so I starved and barfed. When I decided to leave my husband I got to 138 lbs. I was finally in a size 10. I was happy… for awhile. Then I met my partner, and as time increased and life got happy & settled, i began to gain again. I griped about my body all the time. I had HUGE stretch marks and from my roller coaster of dieting & losing weight so fast I had a lot of extra skin, so no matter what size I was, I was not happy or attractive, naked. I escalated to 162 before my partner & I got into fitness hardcore. I got down to 142 in 2013 with her help & motivation. She became a personal trainer & helped me a lot but I tended to emotionally eat. When I was sad or stressed. I couldn’t break past 142 and I still hated my body. I did tons of wraps, every diet pill out there, I even did that laser shit (don’t waste your money) then May 2014 she tells me she’s not happy, she needs a break & she ends up being interested in someone else. In 2 months I lost 30 lbs. I ended up at 109 at my lowest. I loved the skinny body but everyone kept telling me how unhealthy I looked. I didn’t see it. I was skinny, that’s all that mattered. I drank protein shakes for 2 months straight. And vomited often, but not on purpose. We are together now, facing the infidelity and though I am still struggling daily, I am gaining. I am up to 126. But I’m not happy. I don’t want to gain. I’m MORE insecure than ever. I tell myself and she tells me that it had NOTHING to do with me, my looks or the ugly whore (who actually was pretty chunky) but my mind can’t accept that. It keeps saying, I’m not sexy if I’m not skinny. It’s a vicious, ugly cycle. I want to just love my body no matter what and no matter who does or doesn’t. It’s so hard.

    • It is truly an ugly cycle because as much as we know we should love or appreciate or accept our bodies, I struggle. I struggle to see myself for who I really am. There are moments I see a photograph and I can recognize I look thin but then there are times I look in the mirror and I can’t see it.
      Regardless of all this, how we look has nothing to do with infidelity or cheating or choosing another partner. We do need to learn to love ourselves and our bodies.

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