I still remember the joy of my first birth with my son. I was 21 years old. When I found out I was pregnant it was so exciting, but what I was not ready for was the stretch marks and the awful body that came with it. My whole life I have been physically fit. I always had a great body and prided myself on having worked so hard to look healthy. During my first birth I worked out and ran nearly every day and to no avail. Days after my joy had come into the world came the shame and disappointment. I became severely depressed and to top it off my first husband shamed me more by repeatedly looking at Porn and then saying to one of his friends, “ If I were single I would do her friend I am trying to hook you up with.” I was so embarrassed and pretended to not hear the comment. Several years went by and eventually we divorced for a multitude of reasons. After the divorce I had trouble dating and being intimate with people because of my stomach. I would wear long shirts to bed, never wore anything that was remotely form fitting, and I was embarrassed and disgusted with how other women looked at me and judged me when I would change. It has been a gut wrenching journey. I went through dating multiple people, until one guy was honest and made fun of the stretch marks that I
had during an argument and called me fat and disgusting repeatedly. I felt my pride hit an all time low. We continued dating and I eventually broke up with him. I joined the military and became even more physically fit and while in the Army met a man I really liked. We were at training together and the other women around me were trying very hard for his attention. They would tell him that I was disgusting to look at and that despite what I looked like in clothing I was an ugly and disgusting person physically. Now I know I should not let what people say hurt me and being that I am a master’s trained therapist, I did exactly what I would tell my patient’s not to do…. I allowed it to crush the last of any self- confidence I was already lacking. The guy ended up not caring about what they said and continued to date me and eventually we married. I still would never get undressed in front of him and it strongly inhibited our sex life. He would tell me it didn’t matter and that he loved me, but then I got pregnant and again I worked out every day and tried to maintain my physical fitness. I gained 23 pounds and then went into distress during my second delivery and they pumped me with fluids. I gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby again. However, he doesn’t touch me like he used to anymore and I now weigh 163 lbs. I am trying hard to lose the weight, but every day I look at myself I hate what I see. To make matters worse before I gave birth to my daughter I found out that he had been contacting women via facebook to flirt with and making propositions to. I was crushed even more. He said he did it because we were having problems, but now he claims that he finds me just as attractive and beautiful and even more so because I am more curvy after having our child. I can’t get over it and I cannot let it go. It is so hard to look at myself in the mirror every day. I want to throw up at what I see and I don’t see beauty anywhere. I walk around in sweats or lounge clothes all the time because I feel so fat and disgusting and the stretch marks make it worse because they are permanent. I am so grateful for my beautiful children, but there are days that I have selfish thoughts and wish that I never had any children just so I can remember what it feels like to have self-esteem again. It’s horrible and I feel so trapped and hateful about myself. I don’t feel as if I will ever be thought of as pretty again and I don’t feel connected to my husband in any way as a result and I barely have sex anymore because all I can imagine is that he is thinking of someone else. THIS IS SAD TO WRITE and I am going to be 30 next month and I can’t find anything to love about me, but I love my kids more than life itself and I would not trade anything in the world for them.