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How to rebuild self esteem

Topic is Sleeping.

 cedarwoods (original poster member #82760) posted at 8:25 AM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

I am a BW in R which is going well. However, I am struggling with my self esteem. I was raised in a family and culture that was very critical and judgmental. I was criticized for everything… texture of my hair, the way I walk, laugh, sleep, you name it. I didn’t realize I had so much deeply buried issues with low self esteem until my husband’s affair. Holy cow..
I compare myself to the AP a lot. She’s taller, more confident, social, articulate, successful, and attractive (in my WH’s eyes anyway). I cringe when I see photos of myself and think "no wonder wh cheated". How insane is this??
I need to find my own footing. I need to see my own value but I don’t know where to begin. Self talk and hearing my friends tell me positive things do not work. Any suggestions?

posts: 117   ·   registered: Jan. 20th, 2023   ·   location: USA
id 8809550

Abcd89 ( member #82960) posted at 9:59 AM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

There’s many wiser posters here who are more articulate but here’s my ideas.

My self esteem wasn’t affected by my husbands poor choices - this is unusual I know but my background has meant I have done work on this (unknowingly - without counselling) already. I truly believe his choices were down to him, I did not make or cause any of them. I am collateral damage to his issues. I think unmet needs is nonsense and I am vocal about this. There are always going to be people smarter, sexier, wealthier than me. But I am happy with who I am. If my husband is okay to say he vows to be faithful but then skulks around - more fool him - he has issues.

I like my identity. I have interests i can talk about. I love the clothes I choose to wear (not expendsive). I have things I can talk about. I love chatting to strangers and I make acquaintances/friends wherever I go because I talk to people. Attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder and some of the men and women I think are beautiful are not traditionally so. I think that is the case for many people too. I wasn’t always like this, I have built my identity and I realise I really stand by what I believe - but I realise it’s made me okay with who I am. I live by my values and that means I know I’m okay.

The book ‘love yourself like your life depends on it’ by Ravikant has been really useful at dragging Me out of dark places. It has clear simple instructions that are not difficult. I like the fact it tells you what to do!

I wrote a list of who I am and why. If you can define your values (you may not have really thought about this before) and examples of when you have lived by that value it helps you see who you are. I have managed to turn things I saw about myself as negative into a positive by doing this. It’s about accepting who you are and being okay with it.

Write a list of everything you enjoy. Your favourite things ‘cup of tea out of a teapot’ ‘standing outside in the rain’ ‘watching squirrels in the trees’ ‘favourite song’ every little thing. That’s you and you are really interesting! Try and do three of those little things every day.

It’s enabled me to recognise things others may be critical of but I’m okay with - For example I may not go to the hairdressers and have perfect hair and nails but I’m happy to immediately say yes to rock climbing and camping which my kids and I love. I have amazing memories from this that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I don’t worry about plug sockets or make up mirrors! I am happy with my choice. It’s my choice. I own that choice.

I may not spend a fortune on expensive clothes to look smart but if my friend or my child wants to know something I have a shelf full of books to share - I spend my money on books. That’s my choice and im proud of it.
Other people have different choices - and that’s great - but it wouldn’t suit me!

If someone is prepared to cheat (I don’t know if she was married too) then they have issues. Even as a teen I saw through married men who blew smoke up my arse trying to get laid. Why did she need that attention , it’s not a sign of a confident women with good self esteem in my opinion. A single women with good self esteem wouldn’t be happy to hide in the shadows - she would want to be the only person. I would never be someone’s dirty secret. No man is worth hiding myself - yuk!

You chose to be faithful, loyal and stand by your own vows and words even when it was tough. THAT is something that is worth a lot. Being beautiful or tall is luck - genetics. Being faithful, loyal is a daily choice and shows your character. Skulking behind the bike shed with someone else’s boyfriend was never a good look for anyone. It’s a sign of low self esteem.

Make you the best you today. If you like makeup but are not very good with it for example go get a lesson or ask a friend to make you over. If you want to change your look - do it. If you want to learn a sport or instrument go do it. Learn who you are and be proud of your choices. A tip I was given was put on your favourite music , something from a happier time and dance and sing, a friend does this every single day for 10 minutes. It works for her, it’s free and it’s exercise too.

I hope something helps! Be proud and live by your values.

posts: 62   ·   registered: Feb. 27th, 2023
id 8809552

The1stWife ( Guide #58832) posted at 12:51 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

Abcd89 makes a number of excellent points.

I restored my self esteem in dday2 when I stood up to my lying cheating H and told him I was D him. And then I turned my back on him. I did the hard 180.

He thought he was going to sweet talk his way out of the mess he made of our lives. But this time it wasn’t going to work. I saw through his crap and refused to engage w/ him. I changed the dynamics of our marriage with one word. That word was No.

No I’m not discussing anything with you. I did not have to. I was planning to D him.

No I’m not reconciling with you. I did that for 6 months while he continued to cheat. False reconciliation is hell!

No I’m not helping you pick up the pieces.

No — your wife has exited this marriage. Right now I’m the person who is D you.

It’s been 10 years since his midlife crisis affair (not his first). But b/c I changed it’s definitely his last.

I stood up to him. I changed the dynamics of our marriage. I stopped being a doormat. I stopped trying to talk to him.

And now I wear the pants in the family. I put myself first. It’s was a 3 year process for me to fully R. But it had to be on my terms. And it is.

I hope this helps you.

[This message edited by The1stWife at 12:52 PM, Wednesday, September 27th]

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled. 10 years out from Dday. Reconciliation takes two committed people to be successful.

posts: 13699   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8809564

Reece ( member #52975) posted at 7:37 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

Im not sure if I have any great suggestions but I too, struggle with self esteem after my spouse’s affair. We have also reconciled, and this is going really well. She has really done everything a wandering spouse should do but I still struggle at specific times. My wife’s affair was, essentially entirely physical. While she never complained I had always known she was underwhelmed with this aspect of our life. I certainly did and tried everything within my capabilities to improve the situation but without any success. For a couple of reasons I know very explicit details of her affair and this just makes it 100x worse. I definitely know what its like to compare myself unfavorably to her affair partner. Knowing details of his success with her in the bedroom, especially in comparison to my own efforts I have also regularly thought "no wonder she cheated". She does her best to reassure me but there are some things I just cant convince myself of.

I mostly don’t dwell on this and things are really good. However during our moments of intimacy its impossible for my thoughts not to go there. I hope others are able to provide you better advice than I was able to.

posts: 167   ·   registered: Apr. 28th, 2016
id 8809625

Abalone123 ( member #82896) posted at 9:19 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

I hear you. It had taken me a long time to feel confident about myself and then betrayal hit along with a revelation that WH was unhappy as soon as we were married.

I have been confident through ddays but recently struggling as I keep thinking of my role and value in this marriage along with other relationships and friendships. I try to remind myself that I deserve better, I am dressing better, taking care of myself, making my mental and physical health a priority. I think that has helped a bit. I am learning to set boundaries in my personal and professional life. Pity it took 4 decades and a massive betrayal to do all of this, but I am getting there. I am learning that if I don’t respect myself no one will.

posts: 216   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2023
id 8809636

tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 9:25 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

Self-esteem was a HUGE issue for me and prior to the A was wildly Codependent (abusive mother alcoholic father). I was the queen of keeping everyone happy and that made me happy.
One thing I learned that was huge in my healing was I am not responsible for anyone else's happiness than my own. I was mom of young kids at the time too. I had lost who I was.

So I made some changes. One was getting back in shape, feeling good about my body. I got myself some pretty bras and panties and wore them under my scrubs everyday to feel a little sexy. Two was I started making time for me. Quit working 60+hours a week and resumed some hobbies. Three was picking out something kind to do for myself every single day. This is a good life habit.
Four was learning new skills that I had always wanted to learn. This went from teaching myself how to crochet to getting motorcycle license to scuba certifications, to starting my own beekeeping business. This was huge to know I was knowledgeable in things besides making meals, doing laundry and mowing the yard.
I also left a job that I was not fairly compensated for and that had become extremely stressful.

Over the next 18mos post day I became strong confident and happy. Plus I quit tolerating any disrespect from my H. Demanding better from him was important to our R too.

Him: FWS
Kids: 22 & 25
Married for 30 years now, was 16 at the time.
D-Day Sept 26 2008
R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 19974   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8809638

MintChocChip ( member #83762) posted at 1:09 AM on Thursday, September 28th, 2023

Let's start with this. I had very high self esteem when this happened. I thought I was great. The AP was significantly overweight, built like a man, thinning bleached hair, 20 years older than me and a really bloody horrible human being with a drinking problem.

Regardless, this wiped my self esteem and I spent a really long time (and still do) comparing myself in a negative way.

The point here is that this isn't about you vs AP and her comparative good qualities. Even if she was a completely ugly, horrible old drunk -you would STILL feel this way. It's not about her, it's about how your WS has devalued you and your relationship by behaving in ways to harm you.

D Day: September 2020Currently separated

posts: 266   ·   registered: Aug. 20th, 2023   ·   location: UK
id 8809675

whatisloveanyway ( member #66450) posted at 3:01 PM on Thursday, September 28th, 2023


I feel your childhood issues rearing their head. I was in a great space in life prior to discovering my life was a lie. I felt so loved and safe and comfortable in our relationship, and realizing that was a false sense of security really pulled the rug out from under me. I started seeing a pathetic, unlovable, ugly old woman in the mirror and I had to avoid them for a while. It took me a while to connect the dots to my old childhood issues, so you at least know where these unkind self thoughts are originating. That should help you to banish them when the trauma settles.

One of the hardest things for me was to re-learn how to love and appreciate myself again, through my eyes, and not through the eyes of my WH. I am getting there, but I have noticed a huge change in my vulnerability to negative feedback or criticism from others, and I began to shape any negative comments through the lens of my hurt inner child. I keep feeling that the pushback I get is not about what I'm doing, but who I am fundamentally. I trigger to this hurt feeling that people who claim to love me don't actually like me for who I am. I'm working on stopping that negative inner talk, and trying to separate how others make me feel from how I feel about myself, and how I identify as a person, and I work a lot on staying true to my core values, whether anybody likes them or not. I really hate spending all this time and mental energy on banishing old demons again. I really, really hate when my brain adds to my pain with stupid crap from past, or unkind self talk. I have told myself to shut up out loud, I have shouted ENOUGH! or NOT TODAY! and forced myself toward kinder more positive thoughts. It is really easy to fall back in to the pity party and the self abuse in the early stages. Try to force yourself to be kinder to yourself, because you know those comparisons are cruel, and you are adding to your pain. Stopping unwanted thoughts is what has pushed me back into IC to get EMDR to reboot some of the cycles I am stuck in. I have hope that someone smarter than me can help me get past this, because I am ready for a change and I have accepted that I need real help to get there and it's OK to need help.

In the early aftermath, I felt so unwanted, unattractive, all the crap that being cheated on makes you feel. I worked hard, like tushnurse, on wearing clothes that made me feel good, appreciating the stress induced weight loss, embracing my friends and hobbies and rediscovering myself. It helped a bit. It also helped me to keep reminding myself all the things I am, and realizing that letting my self worth be reflected by my marriage and my WH's love for me was not healthy, with or without the cheating.

I'm going to suggest that you stop torturing yourself with the comparisons. We BS have all done it, and I can't help it sometimes either. But I can assure you, the AP was chosen only because she was not me, she could have been anyone, and I realize now that my WH's choices are a reflection of his low self esteem and not mine. I'm a short brunette and she was a tall blonde. I think it might have been worse if she resembled me in any way.

In terms of practical suggestions, I like to focus on the brain stuff, because mine makes me crazy sometimes. The brain loves repetition and patterns, so the more you expose it to a thought, the more it will come back to that thought. You need to feed your brain other thoughts or find ways to disrupt the pattern. There are lots of little tricks - wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap yourself when you go down the wrong mental path. Use a fragrance or sensation to distract your thoughts and force a redirect. Use a mental safe space to go to when these thoughts attack. I have used the ocean for mine, and crank up ocean sounds and go to my happiest memory place. Another thing that helped me in an odd way, is embracing my inner hurt child and my inner hurt old lady with love and kindness, and caring for them as though they were real people. It helped me to feel real empathy for myself, and to acknowledge how awful things had gotten, and to offer myself the purest self love I could muster. It takes so much work to shove aside the negative self talk and not let the low self esteem creep in, but in your darkest moments I hope you can remember how awesome you are and know that in time, those horrible thoughts looking at photos will fade and you will see yourself for the lovely person you are, without comparison to anyone, let alone a person with no morals who would trespass in another's marriage. Another trick I use on myself when I go down the negative thought path is to chide myself for allowing the pity party to start in the first place. Poor little me.... feeling sorry for myself again. I loathe self pity, so I try to spot it when it creeps in and shame myself out of it. I will use my own baggage against myself sometimes if it helps me to redirect.

This is basic, but I have to remind myself occasionally that these thoughts are not true, they are the nasty byproduct of betrayal. I remind myself that this is a trauma based, predictable response for most BS and I try to take away its power by knowing it's source and accepting those thoughts have no power but the time and energy I give to them.

I still can't look at photos of us from the cheating decade. I get too lost in feeling sorry for the clueless loyal loving person I see looking back at me, and I get really confused trying to decode who I'm standing next to in those photos. I avoid them, still, years downstream. I have an album on my phone called Me, and it's all my favorite happy pics from the cheating years, but without WH in them, just me, kids, friends and pets. It is a beautiful reminder of how awesome my life has been, regardless of the cheating and helps me to see myself as lovable, loyal, successful, and at times, even pretty.

If it helps, list all the things that are awesome about you. If you can't think of any, ask a friend. Hold tight to those qualities that make you feel good about yourself. Remind yourself that if your WH's AP was a super model or a troll, it is still a rejection that will hurt, but says nothing about who you are, only who your WH chose to be. I imagine that if the AP in your case was hideous and gross, you would still be fighting those childhood demons. Rejection is rejection, no matter who it is with. Maybe that idea can help you let go of comparisons, accepting that your self esteem would take a hit no matter what, and then trying to manage it through that lens.

I don't know how far out you are, but I know in time, you will get your bearings, and your confidence will return. This low self esteem phase is just one of the ickier parts of the healing process. Don't let it pull you in, just accept it as part the bumpy road you have to travel to heal. I've been through lots of PT for injuries and I think about my broken heart the same way I do my spine. I have to work to keep it healthy, and there is a predictable process of deeper pain before progress every time. It's knowing things will improve that gets me through the pain. I try to keep that same thought process about my recovery. Maybe it can help you to accept that you currently can't see your value clearly because your lens is foggy and smudged from infidelity. It just takes time and work to get back in focus, to reframe and see things better in a more positive light.

Wishing you a quick sea change. I hope soon that you wake up every morning and look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are amazing and awesome and go seize the day.

BW: 63 WH: 63 Both 57 on Dday, M 37 years, 2 grown kids. WH had 9 year A with MOW, 7 month false R, multiple DDays, years of trickle truth and so many lies. I got rid of her with one email but she still haunts me. Reconciling, or trying to.

posts: 514   ·   registered: Oct. 9th, 2018   ·   location: Southeastern USA
id 8809717

leafields ( Guide #63517) posted at 3:48 PM on Thursday, September 28th, 2023

What do Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry and Shakira have in common? They're considered smokin' hot - and they've been cheated on by their SO.

My self-esteem took a huge hit when the A happened. My XWH gave me grief through our M about my weight, and a million other things. I lost 150 pounds. AP? Outweighed me from what I was before I lost weight.

Chaos (another member here) uses the acronym BASGU for Bad A$$ Sparkly Goddess Unicorn - and that is you. You are the one who is the prize here. Go buy yourself some undies that make you feel like a BASGU and wear them. Find an outfit or several that make you feel like a million bucks. It really does make you feel better.

What else makes you feel great? I get a pedicure with French tips in the summer so that my feet look great in sandals. In the winter, I get them painted how I want. Nobody will see them but me, but I know my toes look awesome.

I also did some morning I AM affirmations that really helped. There are a ton of free ones on YouTube. I picked the one that made be ugly cry when I started to say them, because that's how I knew it would resonate with me. I did it every day for several months, and now I do them every once in a while.

Doing this helped me to realize that the A wasn't about me at all - it was about XWH's really crappy choices. I could have been Jennifer Aniston & he'd still have picked his AP to screw.

BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21

posts: 2893   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2018   ·   location: Washington State
id 8809724

Bor9455 ( member #72628) posted at 4:02 PM on Thursday, September 28th, 2023

I compare myself to the AP a lot. She’s taller, more confident, social, articulate, successful, and attractive (in my WH’s eyes anyway).

A line that I remember from my early days here that sticks with me, "honey, they always affair down." Stop comparing yourself to her. So what if she is taller? Unless you and her are going to start WNBA tryouts, I cannot imagine where here height advantage matters. As for being more social, articular, successful or attractive...I'm certain that there are no objective metrics that anyone could present you or I that would actually back up such a ridiculous statement. Hell, I will go further, the only reason she was attractive to your husband is because she let him fuck her. She has no morals and does not have a problem sleeping with married men, which in my book makes her hideous.

I cringe when I see photos of myself and think "no wonder wh cheated". How insane is this??

Sister, we gotta change this negative self-talk in you like right away. I will answer your second question fist, it is fucking insane to be comparing yourself to her and thinking that he cheated on you because of your physical appearance. In fact, like I said, changing your internal monologue, instead of saying "no wonder WH cheated on me" you should be saying "how dare he fucking cheat on me?" with the rage and fire of a thousand suns.

Myself - BH & WH - Born 1985 Her - BW & WW - Born 1986

D-Day for WW's EA - October 2017D-Day no it turned PA - February 01, 2020

posts: 622   ·   registered: Jan. 21st, 2020   ·   location: Miami
id 8809726

sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:55 PM on Thursday, September 28th, 2023

It's normal for self-esteem and self-love to take big hits when one's partner cheats. It's also normal for all the negative self-talk one has picked up during one's life to pile on.

The cure, IMO, is to replace the attack-self self talk with nurturing self-talk. I started to heal by accepting the feelings that came with being betrayed - grief, fear, anger, shame. I started putting myself back together when I noticed the internal attacks, stopped them, and sent loving messages to myself.

I've never found that easy to do. A LOT of my therapy consisted of our MC or my IC getting me to 'hear' the attacks so I could stop them. Many of the attack-self messages were very hard to hear because they were so normal that they had become like the air I breathe.

So I think a good IC can help, and I recommend finding one. Easier said than done, I know.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 4:55 PM, Thursday, September 28th]

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29258   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8809743

Chaos ( member #61031) posted at 1:35 AM on Friday, September 29th, 2023

OOoohhhh - stand back! This gets Chaos riled up!


Now that we have that out of the way. I get it. I've BTDT. I've been described as a Modern Day Marilyn, a walking Barbie Doll, a Goddess. I am built like a 1940s pin up model. I'm a BASGU [Bad Ass Sparkly Goddess Unicorn] I get compliments on the regular. I could go on. And you know what - I'm her on SI as a BS for a LTA.

When DDay happened I couldn't take a shower without sobbing because I had to be naked and look at/wash my unworthy body. I couldn't pass a mirror without looking in it and saying "no wonder". I had no self esteem anymore. The woman who used to walk down every hallway and into every room like she owned it now had her head hung in shame and her shoulders slumped. Eventually I got sick of myself.

So - here's what I did in no particular order. I will say it took time. It wasn't easy. I clawed myself back to my BASGU self one microscopic measurement at a time. And I'll be damned if I let some LTAP define my worth. It not my fault or problem that WH was a flaming moron for feeling so inferior himself he had to get a LTAP to stroke his ego.

Pay attention here - make a list. Take a deep breath. Are you ready....

* Take a shower or bath. Use your favorite shower gel. Use the facial scrub. Deep condition your hair. Pamper yourself because you are your own special occasion. Use the fluffy towel and the most decadent body lotion you have. Slather it all over yourself. Do the full skincare routine. All of the products. All of them. Don't skip a step.
* Put on your best undies. That's right. The power undies. The ones you save for that LBD. Wear them. Today! IDGAF if you wear them under your housecleaning sweats - wear them. And walk a little taller knowing you are wearing them.
* Put on lipgloss (OK - if lipbalm is your thing because you not a make up kind of person -wear your favorite). Do it. Be your own damn special occasion.
* Exercise. I know. But do it anyway. Even if it is just to take a walk around the block or a few leg lifts while doing dishes. Do it. You'll feel better. You'll feel stronger. You'll feel a small fraction of a measure of being in control of something. And you may find you enjoy it. Or at least the small amount of mind refocusing it brings. Run, walk, stretch, yoga, aerobics, Pilates, boxing, anything! Just move. Not sure where to begin? Walk in place for 10 min. Start there. Build on that. Do it!
* Make your bed. There is a famous speech [go on YouTube and search "if you want to change the world start by making your bed". The full 20 min version is well worth your time. But I'm specifically talking about the 6 min. version. Listen to it. Then listen to it every day. Make this your mantra. It bad ass. And has useful information you can relate to anything.
* Find a new hobby or rediscover an old one. Always wanted to learn to paint - take a class. Always wanted to needlepoint - find a kit. Glass painting, candle making, woodworking - find a class. Many local libraries offer these types of things free or very reduced if you have a Library Card. Heck - while you there check out some books about something you wanted to try. I used crochet. I made so many hats and scarves and blankets for our cold weather shelter AND as an added bonus, I got to stab and twist with a hook grin Seriously, it redirected my brain, I used a simple pattern to keep it somewhat mindless, got a lot of yard from my local GoodWill or WalMart clearance AND it benefit a good cause. Find something for YOU.
* Prioritize yourself. Seriously. Even if it is just to have a bleeping cup of coffee. Slowly sip. Do NOTHING else while doing this. Sip and savor. You deserve this. Sometimes I'd take myself to a local coffee shop [I drink mine black so there's no major expense]. I sit and do nothing and slowly savor every last drop. I have found peace doing this. Even if just for a little while.
* If you have pets - pet them. Bury your face in their furry bodies and let those tears flow. They know. They intuitive. They will hold you and hug you.
* Baby steps. None of this is your fault. This healing won't be fast. And will be hard. Know that you are worth it.
* Keep up your nutrition, hydration and hygiene. Even if you don't want to.
* Seek help if you need to - there is no shame. Repeat after me. There is no shame.
* Keep the faith. If you are a religious person - pray. Attend services. Do your religious ritual that gives you comfort. If you are not religious - find what is meaningful to you. Could it be spending time in your garden meditating? Burning sage? Crystals? Whatever is spiritual to you - do that. Even if you may not be feeling it.
* Get yourself in order. See an attorney [many have free consults]. Know your options. Make any preparations you can. Make lists/spreadsheets/etc. But get yourself in order.
* Harness your energy bursts when they come. They will come. Use that mad to scrub the toilets/shower [mine gleamed like it hadn't before], clean out those closets, vacuum out those basement cobwebs [that's a horrible chore but uses that energy], wax the car - anything.
* Rest when that energy fades.
* Sleep. And if it eludes you, rest. If it becomes problematic talk to your Dr.
* Put in your earbuds and listen to what you want - remember those songs that made you feel carefree? Play them. Your old mix tape from high school - the one you always had on when you were getting ready - play that [or find those songs on Spotify, etc. and recreate that play list]
* Be gentle with yourself. Healing doesn't happen overnight.
* Feel the feels. Cry when you have to. Scream if you have to [car screaming was a thing for me for a long time]. Eventually you will find a smile or light chuckle creeping in when you didn't think you could anymore.
* Talk to an IC if you have one. If you don't, consider getting one. No shame here. None. I found a good one and still go from time to time.
* Audiobooks were a lifesaver. Reading was my favorite thing. But for years following DDay1 I couldn't concentrate. Audiobooks allowed me to still enjoy my favorite authors but didn't have to struggle for that concentration.
* Keep fucking going. I got myself a bracelet that says exactly that. It was under $10 on Amazon. I used to wear it all the time. Now I wear it when I feel I need the extra reminder or boost. I feel a little more bad ass when I do.

These are a few things that work for me. I could go on. And I'm sure I forgot more than I remembered. It may take you a while to find the recipe that works best for you.

Big hugs. Great big hugs.

BS-me/WH-4.5yrLTA Married 2+ decades - Children (1 still at home) Multiple DDays w/same AP until I told OBS 2018 Cease & Desist sent spring 2021"Hello–My name is Chaos–You f***ed my husband-Prepare to Die!"

posts: 3719   ·   registered: Oct. 13th, 2017   ·   location: East coast
id 8809819

Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 10:04 AM on Friday, September 29th, 2023

Some of the exercises in Stosny’s book (Living and loving after betrayal) really helped me in this area. I’m also in a situation where my husbands AP was "better" than me in a lot of ways. It does a number on your self esteem.

The two practical steps that helped me were exercising and pursuing hobbies that I found joy and meaning in. Investing in friendships would probably have been good, too, but it was Covid and for a variety of reasons I didn’t have much of a support network.

Some simple self talk helps too. When I think the horrible thoughts about being ugly, unlovable, unattractive, unsuccessful, etc., I remind myself of my inherent worth, and tell myself "so what?" I have small boobs. So what? Lots of people do. If he wants someone with bigger boobs, he knows where the door is. I’m a teacher. Not a high status career or big money maker. So what? I’m happy with it and feel like it’s valuable work. If he wants his AP with her fancy higher paid job, again, we’ve got multiple doors in our house. He can leave out any one of them.

This kind of self talk isn’t a magic cure, but it has helped over time. I am who I am, and I’m going to enjoy my life and try not to waste time handwringing over not being the smartest, prettiest, most successful person out there.

Husband had six month affair with co-worker. Found out 7/2020. Married 20 years at that point; two teenaged kids. Reconciling.

posts: 562   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2021
id 8809828

 cedarwoods (original poster member #82760) posted at 7:48 PM on Friday, September 29th, 2023

Thank you so much for your replies. You all gave great advice, suggestions, and encouragement. I am standing a bit taller after having read what you wrote. I think on the surface I come across as someone with confidence and healthy self esteem. On the inside though, I carry so much pain and self pity/berating. All those negative voices in my head! I will take your suggestions and get to work. I will post an update! Thank you!

posts: 117   ·   registered: Jan. 20th, 2023   ·   location: USA
id 8809953

tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 1:55 AM on Saturday, September 30th, 2023

One thing I did in the early days that I totally forgot until I read Chaos' post was the post it notes.
I put post its with positive affirmations all over. On my steering wheel, mirrors, computer monitor, back of my phone. Everytime I saw it I made myself repeat it 10 times. I would switch them up every week or so. They were humorous and positive. Everything from I was strong brave and good looking. To You are the queen of your family and your attitude matters. To you are beautiful and sexy. To you are the best nurse and anyone would be lucky to have you care for them.
As I started gaining confidence these went away. But like Chaos I think doing lots of new things helped me more than anything.
Remember this hit to your self esteem is just from the trauma. It has zero to do with reality

Him: FWS
Kids: 22 & 25
Married for 30 years now, was 16 at the time.
D-Day Sept 26 2008
R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 19974   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8809988

joeboo ( member #31089) posted at 3:39 AM on Saturday, September 30th, 2023

It appears as if you've received some great advice and conversation.
It seems that affairs really accentuate our own insecurities no matter what they are. I hope it helps if you remember that no matter the AP, they weren't you and there would be differences. Quite frankly, I could have been an Adonis and she still would have found a reason to want someone else.
It's easier said than done, but learn to change the things you can and accept the things you can't. Make peace with yourself and let your opinion of you be louder and more believable than his opinion of you.
Lastly, one day I was pondering this very topic... would I choose me for a lifelong partner? Ten years ago, I would have said, "hell no". Today that answer is different. I'm still no Adonis, but I'm honest, faithful, hard working, I make a good living, and I'd rather laugh than argue. She knew all that when she married me but none of that mattered. I could have been perfect, but she wasn't looking for perfection, she was just looking for anything new.
Love yourself. If you don't, keep trying until you do. Like an oxygen mask on an airplane, don your happiness first. You can't help you or your marriage until you do.
Good luck. I wish you peace on your journey to happiness.

posts: 1291   ·   registered: Feb. 4th, 2011
id 8809995

Luna10 ( member #60888) posted at 5:18 PM on Sunday, October 1st, 2023

I follow an IC on social media and just saw a post that explained how self confidence and self esteem are improved, I felt I had to come and post it here.

First I hope you know that there’s no competition between you and the AP as the affair had nothing to do with you but with your WS’s brokenness (and to expand, the AP’s as well).

This IC explained that we all have what is called our comfort zone where we feel safe, comfortable and are happy to let things happen.

Then there’s the panic zone where everything happening causes us huge amount of anxiety and distress and nobody wants to be there.

However, between these two zones, there is the stretch zone, a zone where we challenge ourselves to do new things and achieve new stuff. Life is about getting into this zone as much as you can as this is the zone where you build the highest level of confidence and self esteem.

Looking back at my own insecurities post dday and my completely on the floor self esteem (even though AP was waaaay low in comparison) I stopped caring about the value WH attributed me when I joined the stretching zone and decided I am amazing 😆.

I have set myself stretching career goals (achieved), stretching physical goals (also achieved) and started learning new things I always wanted to learn (painting, baking amazing cakes, bringing my third spoken language to fluency again).

It suddenly ceased to matter if WH saw how amazing I was because I decided I was a great human being and if he didn’t realise my value and how special I was, then he wasn’t the right partner for me. The man in your life does not decide your value, you do. This raises your standards too, I hold him to higher standards than ever because I now understand my true value.

I like being modest and don’t go around shouting about how great I am (except on this forum laugh ) but deep down I do believe I am great and it shows. People around me often compliment my resilience and my ability to set myself life goals and go after them. It feels amazing too! Try it.

Dday - 27th September 2017

posts: 1788   ·   registered: Oct. 2nd, 2017   ·   location: Europe
id 8810134

Littlepuppet ( new member #83426) posted at 5:49 PM on Monday, October 2nd, 2023

For me, the best has been psychoanalysis, when I was younger, before having a partner, almost 30 years ago.

It is about symbolizing (converting into words), your fears, complexes, contradictions, dreams, lapses, gestures, etc... and transmitting them to another who is not going to judge you, but who is going to return them to you unconsciously chewed (he is helping to do it yourself) putting them right in that stage of childhood maturation where that jam, fixation is.
At the same time it helps you move to the next phase.
In the end it is about having many signifiers (your own thoughts) that you are able to change, turn to, they are very close in terms of content, they are intermingled, thus avoiding becoming obsessively anchored.
Sometimes even jumping to a joke, hyperbole, satire, etc... or to something more transcendental, religious, moral, etc...

It is not easy to explain, it is slow, expensive but very effective.

What I liked most about the final result is the knowledge of myself that I acquired, my values ​​of sincerity, honesty and transparency that define me.

posts: 36   ·   registered: Jun. 6th, 2023   ·   location: Madrid
id 8810271

RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 9:34 PM on Monday, October 2nd, 2023

We all suffer self esteem issues to varying degrees, based of our predisposing factors, after such a profound intimate insult.

The AP wasn’t a replacement, wasn’t an upgrade, she was simply…available.

She was available because she is probably damaged goods. Cheating with a married man involves serious character and mental health flaws. When you are comparing yourself to the AP, are you making fair, objective comparisons, or are you pain shopping? Are you comparing the things that really matter, like character, like sound mental health?

You say she’s more confident. Narcissists and many criminal mentalities are also very confident. Confidence is not always a virtue, but can also be a flaw that enables maligned behaviors. You say she’s more social, is that just a nice word for "flirtatious", validation seeking? Successful or is she just a social climber? Articulate or silver tongued serpent? Attractive, if she’s SO attractive why does she have to reduce herself to home wrecking, nest robbing behaviors involving married men with obvious character flaws. A truly attractive woman would go after high value eligible bachelors of good character and no messy entanglements because, these women are truly confident and know they deserve better, can get better.

This chick you’re idolizing is a pathetic broken bird. The kind of women stupid men may cheat with, but no high value man of good character and mental health would ever consider marrying.

And, if she does look better in your husband’s eyes, then dump his ass and find The man that you’re the apple of his eye. My wife isn’t the most beautiful woman in the world, but she totally is to me.

[This message edited by RealityBlows at 9:39 PM, Monday, October 2nd]

posts: 1243   ·   registered: Oct. 25th, 2013
id 8810306
Topic is Sleeping.
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