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This is a long read, but please if you can help, I don't know what to do...help.


Megs49

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I just posted in the Healing After Divorce and Breakup section about, obviously, my divorce and how to get over hurt from that...

 

But I have a more specific problem that I would love some support and advice on. Warning: this post is long, and I understand if some of you don't want to read it. It's really long and very personal. Please only read if you have the time. I just need to get this out, because it's affecting my entire life right now and I don't know what to do anymore...

 

I'm beginning to feel ugly, again.

 

There, I said it. It's taken me so long to get that out.

 

Back story: I grew up in a household where looks were everything to my parents, and I mean everything. Daddy especially put value on and wanted nothing more than to have "pretty" or "beautiful" daughters. He wanted at least one of us to grow up to be a model. If I went to eat a cookie or ice cream, Dad or Mom would say "Careful, you're going to get fat! Put that down, do you want to be fat and look disgusting? Fat people are disgusting and no one will like you" ...I was, and always have been very petite to the point of being skinny, so it was irrational for them to harp on me for weight, and I knew that even at a young age.

 

My younger sister was chubby, very much so, and I watched Mom humiliate her in public. One incident comes to mind that still infuriates me and breaks my heart-- we were visiting my Aunt's salon (she owns a beauty salon, and mom would take us there just to sit and talk with Aunt Donna just to get out of the house and visit while she cut hair. My little sister had to be about...four? Five, at the time? Mom was sitting in a chair next to my Aunt's station drinking coffee and my little sis walked up to her to ask if she could go play in the back room (the salon had a back room where my father ran an upholstry business and he had toys back there for us to play with when our cousins and we were there).

 

Then-- for no reason, just randomly-- my mother actually LIFTED my sister's shirt up to her chest and looked at her stomach. To this day, I have no idea why. In front of an entire salon full of hair stylists and customers, and I you not, said as loud as she could, in a very scolding, almost FURIOUS voice "Oh my GOD! Britt, look at your stomach-- you are disgusting! You've got a gut, and rolls-- I'm embarassed by you, you should be ashamed of yourself, your stomach is ugly, you look like a pig! I'm putting you on a diet! What the hell is the matter with you?!!" .....And Brittany started sobbing, as mom continued to hold up her shirt for everyone to see, refusing to put it down. Remembering her face screwing up and her bursting into devestated tears still gets to me, and I don't even get along with my sister very well now that we're adults, but that...I wanted to just kill my mom for that. It haunts me, the way Mom said those things, and the look on Britt's face and how she sobbed in pain....

 

Everyone stopped talking and the salon went quiet. Everyone, especially my aunt and I were mortified. I could see fury on many of the ladie's faces staring at my mother emotionally and cruelly to a Kindergartener, much less a Kindergartener who was her own little girl. People started whispering "My god...did you hear that?...how cruel...that was just nasty..." Mom, seemed oblivious to how much SHE had disgusted everyone and continued to hold up Brittany's shirt and pointing out the rolls, fat and cellulite before finally throwing down her shirt and saying "Get out of my sight, I don't want to see you right now!" Britt ran to the back room crying as hard as a child can cry--I'd seen her stomach and yes, it was big, she was just naturally a chubby kid...but Christ, and for the love of God, how could she do that to her? When I think of it, I hate my mom a little for destroying a five-year-old that way...

 

Stuff like that continued to happen, on an unbelievably frequent basis. Mom and Dad would came to focus on MY looks more than my either of my little sister's. Mom and Dad would still tell her "You have to lose weight, or the kids at school will tease you-- and you'll deserve it, getting fat like that. They'll call you stinky, and fatty-- you won't have any friend's." She'd cry everytime, and run to the couch or her bed and lay facedown, ashamed. But, it was me, for some reason, that seemed to spark the most FURY, and yes, really, pure FURY from Mom, but Dad especially because of my looks.

 

My dad would sometimes, for no good reason at all, and out of absolute nowhere, just say "You're ugly." If I smiled or laughed, he say "When you smile, you just look so ugly" (I had crooked teeth, and dad would adress that matter with visible disgust on his face) "God, your teeth...no wonder you don't have any friends. You oughta keep your mouth shut when you smile."

 

I have an ear that my boyfriend lovingly and fondly calls my "Pixie ear"-- it sticks out a little more than the left on and has a point at the tip The doctor said it grew that way because of the way I was laying in my Mom's uterus during her pregnancy with me. I was laying on my side with my head on its side against the uterin wall, which pushed it forward a little bit...If Dad saw me with my hair in a pony-tail, or headband and that ear was exposed, he'd go "Ugh, GOD, MEGAN! Look at that ear...you shouldn't wear your hear like that, you look stupid and ugly with that ear showing. Take your hair down. No wonder you don't have any friends or boyfriends." (This seemed to be my parents go-to line-- always bring up that I didn't have friends or a boyfriend, becuase I was being maliciously bullied all through elementary and middle school. They seemed to blame me, mostly my appearance).

 

He always made these observations about my body and appearance with such contempt and sarcastic disgust. In the mornings, when I'd come down for breakfast, he'd get that angry, disgusted look on his face and say sordonicly-- "Phhuu! You look like crap today." If I cried, I was either threatened, cursed at or beaten. Mom and Dad, though still mostly Dad, were very physically abusive to me and to a lesser extent my sisters. But it was the words that hurt worse than his fists. "I'm embarrassed to take you out in public. Your hair looks stupid. I can see your ear sticking out. What will people think when they see your crooked teeth? They'll think you're a piece of crap...Why couldn't I just have a pretty daughter? Brittany may be fat, but she's prettier than you. You can't hold a candle to her..." ......Just typing this and remembering this, is making a lump in my throat form...I want to cry like it was yesterday. I feel like I can't breathe...

 

 

I wish I could show you the look on his face and the mean, bullying way he said these things, just so everyone could comprehend the cruelty with which this was done every time. I've had about half the people I've ever confided these things to say skeptical things or even accuse me of lying. The fact that I've been in therapy and have made two suicide attempts still doesn't convince them that this was the way I was treated, raised and that it's just as much a part of my brain as any other part.

 

Such contempt, such disgust in his eyes when he looked at me or talked about me. He broke my heart everyday. I wanted my Dad's approval so much, and like any child I loved him unconditionally and thought everything he said was the word of God and completely true.

 

I hated coming downstairs, because I knew I'd be inspected and scrutinized, especially if I was going somehwere out in public. Dad had a name for the kind of look I had to have when I left for school. I had to look "School Cool". I remember once, being sick, wearing sweatpants and a sweat shirt so I'd be more comfortable, but it wasn't good enough and he told me "Megan, you're just never School Cool. I see all the kids you go to school with and they're School Cool. You're going to stop making me the laughing stock of the parents, and embarrassing me all to hell. Get upstairs and put on something School Cool. If you don't look School Cool when you come back downstairs, I'll beat your butt and burn everything in your closet, and throw away everything you love in your room away. What do you think of that?."

 

They controlled every aspect of my looks. If I came downstairs wearing a blue shirt-- "You're not wearing that. I wnt you in the pink one. Go put it on, don't argue, or I'll slap your mouth." It was sensless. It was just to control how I looked. The next day, he'd want me in the blue shirt, take the orange one off, and it was "you WILL wear blue, or I'll..." (beat you, kick your ass, shoot Nike (my cat), strangle Mickey, my parakeet that I'd had since Kindergarten, come into my classroom with me and tell everyone to laugh at me because I don't know how to not look like an idiot).... these were usually his go to threats.

 

My hair-ties or scrunchies were scrutinized and inspected along with my clothes. If one was a color he didn't like (usually neon or just very bright colors or weird patterns set him off and made him crazy), he'd literally put me in a head-lock (yes, you read that right, a head-lock) and roughly rip it out, leaving me crying from the control he took over my body, the pain in my scalp, and my sisters emotionally crying out of...fear? Empathy? Emotional stress? I don't know, we tried not to talk about it.

 

My sister's and I weren't allowed certain colors. If a shirt was too bright, then it was "too wild" and "looked stupid" and "people would think you guys have stupid parents". We could wear nail polish, but it had to be "Normal colors" or classic colors: pink, or red. No blue, green, purple, brown, taupe, glitter-- anything. It just wasn't allowed. If we were caught, Dad got to smash our fingers with a wooden spoon or a big heavy soup ladle that was his favorite hitting-toy for some reason. I don't know what it was made of, I think pewter, or silver So heavy...If we went to a sleep over and forget not to let the our friends paint our nails anything but pink or red, he or Mom would make us lay our hands on the table so they could beat our fingers with that ladle or a wooden spoon. I remember once Dad couldn't find the spoon or the ladle (I think one of my sister's hid them). He was on a rampage looking for it because I let my friend paint my fingernails a deep brown, and my toenails as well. Couldn't find his "punishment tools", so he made me give him my hands and he squeezed and twisted, crushing my fingers together as hard as he could. And he's a big, burly Italian man. I was a tiny, small-boned, 85 lb. girl-- I was no match to withstand that amount of pain. I tried not to squeal or cry, because that pissed him off even more, but it hurt so bad that it literally forced a shriek from my throat. Next, were my evil, painted toes-- He ordered my sandals off and purposely kicked and stomped on my toes. Some were broken, some halfway hanging off, some just oozing blood from the sides, underneath them. When he was done, he grabbed the back of my shirt and said "Now get up there, you little !", and threw me up the stairs. He called up the stairs as I was crawling up them "I TOLD you what would happen if painted your fingernails colors I don't like! It's your own damn fault, you moron!" .......The name calling. That hurt worse than anything, I think.

 

 

Hair was a big deal in my family, to the point of hysteria at times, because of my Aunt being a hair stylist-- if I took a shower and didn't use conditioner, or left it wet to air-dry, Dad would say awful things-- "You are a slob! Fine, be ugly! You think people like you looking that way? No wonder you don't have any friends! If you don't get the hell upstairs and blow-dry your hair (or take the ponytail out, or put a ponytail IN, or hairspray my bangs up a little, it was ALWAYS something) I will beat your ass, is that what you want? Huh?! I AM YOUR FATHER!"

 

If I got out of the shower mom would come into the bothroom with that confrontational look on her face and asked "Did you use conditioner?" If I said yes, she'd feel it to make sure I wasn't lying. If I was honest and admitted that no, I'd only used shampoo and forgot to use conditioner, she'd scream, throw things, slam doors and sometimes gather up a fist full of my hair and pull, shaking my head hard and fast...(That was always her favorite way of controlling me or disiplining me when I did something. Get a fistful of my hair, twist it and shake. A woman once called the police on her when she did this at a restaraunt because I wouldn't eat the sourkraut on my plate, because I had a tummy-ache. She was out of control to do it in public.)

 

Dad's go-to was a head-lock, or hitting my head and screaming that he was my father and that meant that I was purposely disobeying him by not being attractive. He would always say that if I didn't look the way he wanted me too, like I was doing it out of disrespect; "I AM YOUR FATHER!" The way he said i sounded as if I'd severely disrespected him, called him some swear word or refused to do chores-- it was just so shocked and outraged sounding.

 

Because of hair being a huge deal in our family, Mom and Dad would literally hold meetings to decide what hairstyle they were going to have my Aunt cut for me, to their liking. They sit me down at the table, and them accross from me like I was in court. I had no say, and if I wanted something different or usually just to let it grow out and look simpler, they would both start shouting and berating me at the same time, just talking over eachother--- "Do you want to be ugly? Do you ever want to be pretty? Let me tell you something, I'm going to beat your ass if you don't let her give you that style, you have no idea how much uglier you look with the way it is instead, and people are going to talk about us if you look stupid! You know what? You deserve you ass beat! That's what you need! What's it going to take?"...

 

They ordered me a new hairstyle about every four months, as I recall. My Aunt was delighted to do it, because she is passionate about her work and thought I liked it. She didn't know I was being forced. Id sit in the chair trying so hard not to cry as she razored, chopped and styled it in very complicated fashions, nothing a child my age would normally have, and that would require lots of time styling and spraying and curling...but that was "beauty" to my parents. If you had "plain" hair, you obviously were clueless. They'd talk about total strangers the same way, at restaraunts, the grocery store, walking on the side walk with hair that wasn't overly teased, or sprayed, or styled. "God, look at that hair. She didn't even bother to curl it! She must not care how she looks." "Look at that woman's bangs-- if you ever got bangs like that, I'd have to beat you." "What a cow. Nice hair, I don't know how she even has a boyfriend with that hair." (To perfectly unaware people minding thier own business). It was the same with makeup, or not having peirced ears. Mom and Dad would say in only slightly reserved volume how the woman wasn't even wearing any makeup, how shocking! They'd tell me that I'd have to start learning to use make-up soon, because they didn't want me looking like a dork. Pretty women wore the full cabootle-- Foundation, powder, eyeshadow, eyleiner, mascara, lipstick or gloss, blush AND they had peirced ears. I was literally dragged into Claire's and forced by my Mom and Dad to get mine peirced at seven.

 

"That waitress that waited on us, she didn't even have her ears peirced. She oughta be embarrassed." Like it mattered...

 

The kids at school were given new ammo to use against me, becuase my hair was always cut and styled a diffferent way; never the same way, always too old of a fashion for a middle schooler-- I could never look like anyone else. In that era all the girls just had simple, straight hair, maybe with some wispy bangs, but not overly sprayed or styled-- I stood out like a sore thumb but if I was not allowed to leave the house unless Mom or Dad could actually FEEL the hairspray and gel in it, to see if I tried styling it the way they wanted. If it didn't look the way they agreed on, I didn't leave the house. I had a cow-lick on the side of my templef, and my Mom actually slapped me when she couldn't make it stay down with hair spray. Dad would come up to the bathroom to watch me working on it, spraying, brushing, styling-- sometimes grabbing the stuff and doing hisself, telling me I was "useless, what the hell? Let me do it, I'll show you how I want you to look."

 

There was a blow out fight between me and my parents at age fourteen when I tried to wear a ponytail to a basketball game with my friends. It had grown out my hair to my shoulders, and I wanted it pulled back. They cornered me in the bathroom, forced me down on my knees in a kow-tow position, screamed in my ears like a drill seargant about how no daughter of theirs would look ugly, and how I looked ridiculous and that my hair would be worn down. While Dad held me down on my knees, Mom-- as if the world depended on it-- ripped the scrunchie out of my hair and styled and slicked it with mousse until I resemembled someone from the eighties. When they finally let me stand up, I was slapped again. Mom said "Don't you ever go out with your hair like that again, or your ass is mine." Dad said "Let me tell ya somethin'--you're not pretty enough to wear your hair back-- it shows too much of your face. Now, you're going to start minding me, or I'll beat you harder than you can even dream of. You look pathetic, and your hair looks stupid no matter what you do. You're cutting it off next week, and you WILL look NICE." When I tried to protest, you can guess what happened. I went to the basketball game with a black eye and sore ribs from being kicked with his shoes on, repeatedly, when the punch he administered sent me to the bathroom floor...Goddammit, it hurts, but I need to get this out, I can't keep all this in anymore...I'm sobbing like it was yesterday.

 

The world ended for my family when I developed acne. I was told to "I'm not talking to you until you get those pimples to go away," "God, I can't even stand to look at you. You know people see you in public like that, right?" Mom would grab my face, smushing my cheeks in one hand and turn my head back and forth and just make that disgusted SCOFF sound when people don't like what they see. It hurt and if I tried to pull away, I'd get a smart slap accross the face or on the mouth.

 

My grandma joined in on the action (see, it's a family thing, it's bizarre and I don't know why...), she'd bend over, inspect my teeth or acne, being invasive to the point where I was livid and just burning with anger inside-- turning my face side to side, pulling my lips apart and up to look at my teeth, sticking her fingers in my mouth to jam around in there to...I don't know...inspect how crooked they were, I guess? I'd try to pull away, but she'd scold me and grab harder. She'd do sneak attacks and put her hand on my stomach to "make sure" if it was flat. She was obsessed with my weight. If I tried to block her hand I was a "spoiled brat".

 

She'd do all this in front of people (as did my parents) and it never ceased to make me feel like a horse being shown by its owner or a car being looked under the hood and showing people it's features-- people would come over for dinner, or a visit, or it would be the holidays with all of the extended family there and just when I least suspected it Mom, Dad or Grandma would physically pull me in front of the table, or couch, or wherever the majority of the guests were sitting and go "Take a look at her acne. Have you ever seen anything like this?" This never failed to humiliate me and also embarrass the people being put on the spot to pick apart my body. Guests would sometimes even leave. I could see on thier faces that they were appalled at my parents and grandma's intrusive disrespect of my body. Or "Would you please tell my daughter she needs to wear her hair down? She's got that ear..." hear they'd pull my hair behind my ear to show them. "Isn't that just unsightly?"

 

The worst was when Grandma, as we were eating Thanksgiving dinner with guests and relatives suddenly reached over ( she was sitting next to me) and took her fingers and pried open my mouth-- WITH FOOD IN IT, I HAD JUST TAKEN THE FORK OUT OF MY MOUTH-- and put her fingers in my mouth, grabbing and trying to wiggle teeth (I don't know why, it made no sense to me, I was 12 or 13 and I had no more teeth that would be loose, they were adult teeth) and just said to the entire family and few friends "Just look at her teeth, haha! Ever seen anything like it? They're just so crooked" , then lifted up my upper lip, like you would a horse or dog, "Look at that one! That one sticks out. Oooohhh darn it, honey, we just hoped you'd have straight teeth. You see, people don't like that and you can't get a boyfriend if you got a problem like that." Then she'd look at one of the guests and go "Tell her. Isn't that right, that crooked teeth just look awful? Tell her she ought to smile with her mouth closed." All this while my upper lip is stretched up, her other hand holding my chin so I couldn't move. I tried to say "Stop", but with her hand jammed in my mouth, it just came out as "Stagh! Stagh iih!" so I tried grab her wrists to pull her off of my face, but she held fast and said "Quit!" as if I was offending her, despite the indignity she was forcing on me. She kept going, too, sticking her index finger on the other side of my mouth, trying to point out to about ten horrified people at the table, another crooked tooth, and wound up gagging me. I ripped my face away from her

 

Then she put her face only millimeters away from mine, looking at me so close up and going Tsk, Tsk but instead of disgust she'd sound sad, like someone broke her favorite vase-- "Tsk. Oh, honey...gosh-darnnit, we all hoped you'd grow up with nice skin, we hoped so bad. You just got it though, didn't ya? Tsk...oh, that's too bad you have to look like that." Or "You did wind up with crooked teeth.Oh, it's too bad. We all hoped you'd have straight teeth, but it just wasn't meant to be, I guess. Crooked teeth are just so ugly. You look just awful. Tsk, oh honey, you poor thing..." "Brittany has good skin. *sigh* It's a shame you have to look like that, you got acne all over, dammit..." Eventually, my grandpa yelled at her, and made her quit (he was the one person in the family who thought I was perfect, God rest his soul).

 

To this day, I become infuriated when people touch my face, or certain body parts because of Mom, Dad, and Grandma inspecting me and pulling on body parts all the time. I've freaked out on friends of mine who didn't deserve it, but it's almost a Pavlovian response now. Everyone knows not to touch my face. For years, I had no say in anything that happened to my body in so many ways. i also can get upset if I feel like people are critiquing the way I look. I don't like being stared at, or comments on my body. They invaded my privacy so much, as a kid, I just can't...I'm ashamed, but I can't handle it....

 

I'm sorry that I'm flooding this post with a novel-like biography, but I just need someone to listen...someone who maybe went through it too...someone to tell me it's okay to hurt over it, that I'm not defective.

 

My mom would buy stuff to put on my acne. She slapped me several times when the products failed to get rid of it. She'd say "Do you know how much you embarrass me? I don't want to even take you to the grocery store with me! I don't want to be seen with you."

 

She beat me with a hot curling iron one day, because I cried. I cried because she insisted on styling my hair one day before just going to the store, and in the process of getting really frustrated with my very thick, heavy hair, she burned my neck after ironically saying' "Stop being nervous. Only a horrible mother would burn her child with a curling iron." Literally seconds later, she laid it against my neck and I shrieked in pain. When I cried, she became infuriated and beat me with it. It burned and stung, with each slap of the hot metal against my body.

 

Dad continued on about my teeth. I couldn't smile without him doing that *SCOFF* and saying "You look so stupid." Then he'd imitate my teeth by sticking them out, making me feel horrible. I stopped smiling alltogether when I was about 12. Then, I was often punished for that. I couldn't win. Several times a day Mom or Dad would shake me by the shoulders, slap my face or arms or thighs, thump me on the head, or kick me for not smiling when they wanted me to. Sometimes it was because they wanted me to smile for friends of thiers, others they just wanted me to smile like at the table during dinner. If I didn't, I'd be verbally assaulted, called every name in the book, and 3 times out of 5 I'd be hit.

 

Mom's discontent with my acne grew. I was forced to wear foundation, and other heavy makeup to make me look "Half-way decent", as she and dad put it. If I came downstairs in the morning with no make up? ..."Get up there and put some foundation on, your zits look horrible. You're not going to school like that and you won't watch TV. for a week." Or "You look like , get up there and put on a little eyeliner, and do your lipstick." ..............Mom would often stare at me out of the blue, when I'd turn to see her doing it, she'd just go "You're just...no super-model." .............My mom was obsessed with the fact that the only pretty women worth anything was to be "blond with big boobs" She told me this in every situation. (My mom herself dyed her hair blond and wore big padded bras to make her small A cups look huge).

 

'You can't try out for cheerleading, you're not blond with big boobs."

"You're not going to homecoming, honey-- that's for pretty girls who are blond with big boobs, you'll look ridiculous."

 

Me: "Mom, I applied at Shop-Co but I didn't get the job. Can I just have a hug?"

Her: "Well, you're not blond with big boobs, what did you expect? Noone's going to hire you." (Dumbest thing that ever came out of her mouth, in my opinion).

 

Me: *Crying* "Mom, I just want friend's...no one at school will sit with me at lunch or in class. "

Her: "Well, what did I tell you? You have black hair, you're short, you're pale, you're skinny. You've got crooked teeth, and you're not blond with big boobs. You're never going to have any friend's. Mommy and Daddy are the only friends you'll ever have, okay? Remember that. We're the only one's who can love you because of how you look."

 

There was at least one verbal attack on my appearance every day in my middle school and high school years. If I cried, I was asked how I thought THEY felt, having a daughter who wasn't a "super-model". They always said that. "You're not a super-model. You're just no super-model. Don't eat that cookie, you'll get fat and you'll never be a super-model. How do you think we feel when Britt's fat, and you just look dumb? I have friend's whose daughters look like super-models." ......And the list goes on, causing Brittany and I no end of tears and self-hatred. I remember Brittany at the kitchen table, bubbly and talking happily to me about a new boy she was seeing and eating ice-cream. Dad walked into the room, and yanked the bowl of ice-cream away from her and said with a smile and cheery tone "Can't get fat if you want to be a model!" She said "What makes you think I WANT to be?" His response was "Do you know how embarrassed your mom and I are, you looking like that? If you were a model, your poor mom wouldn't have to cry over how you look. We give you girls everything, and you repay us by looking like and embarrassing us in front of our friends who have pretty girls."

 

...Of course Brittany and I both burst into tears, were both slapped on the side of our heads, and threatened that if we kept crying and didn't improve our appearance, he'd really give us something to cry about. We ran to my room and just hid between the wall and my bed and cried, while looking at eachother-- all we could say through sobbing was "It's okay...it--it--it's okay...It's okay..." We spent hours that night in front of the mirror-- her trying to suck in her stomach, wrapping duct tape around her thighs to make them skinnier, and me styling my hair to cover my ear, and practice putting on makeup, and learning how to smile with my lips closed so my crooked teeth wouldn't show. We both cried and smiled in a weird combination to try and make eachother feel better the whole time, kind of like we were saying "Yeah, it hurts, but we're both hurting...we'll be okay, just smile."

 

I could go on long enough with anecdotes to write you all a book, some worse than the one's I gave you...but the point I'm trying to get to, and what I need advice on is this:

 

During high school, I blossomed. It was like I literally woke up one night and my body and face had changed and matured. My hair even looked better, shinier, somehow. Putting on makeup made took me from pretty to..."Wow." My parents started treating me better, my looks were no longer a big deal because they finally had a daughter who could be a model (I actually did sign up for modeling and did some modeling in Chicago. You'd of thought by the way my parents talked, I cured cancer and Aids and won the Nobel Peace Prize).

 

I suddenly had all the boys (and some girls) chasing me, and all the straight girls hating for being something thier boyfriend's got caught staring at, but asking me to hang out with them anyways because they wanted to use me to get to boys and wanted to be seen with me. It was like a dream come true. The hurt from the lifetime of abuse at the hands of my parents and thier microscopic scrutinizing of my looks still lingered, but I fell in love with a boy at school and he became my lover, my best friend, and eventually my husband-- he worked with me for years, taking me to therapy, giving me long talks about how to love myself and keep my self-esteem high, buying me self help books, helping me keep journals of my feelings, dreams, and flashbacks. Eventually, as we grew together and our relationship spanned over a decade, all of that work and talking paid off and I felt like a shiny, new person...

 

I LOVED myself. I'd smile in the mirror (I'd gotten a job and paid for my own braces, btw, my parents practically threw a party), I'd even look in the mirror and write "I love you, you're perfect" to myself, hug myself (cheesy, I know). I felt beautiful, raidient and bursting with light...

 

Then, saving you the long story of my divorce, i'll just say-- D. divorced me. The story is in the Healing After Breaking Up and Divorce Section...but it wasn't so much the divorce, but the things he said to me during the divorce. You see, HE changed. He changed very quickly, out of nowhere after about ten or eleven years together, and with that changing he became mean...with a lot of the mean, cruel things that he wound up saying and doing...he began insulting my looks...

 

"My tastes have changed. I just think you're too skinny, and I want a woman with bigger breasts and hips now." .... "Your looks just don't do it for me anymore."..."I'm bored with you in bed-- you're not having sex the way I want, and even when you try to do the things i request, you still mess it up-- and you having, like, no breasts doesn't help." ..."I saw this girl with a beautiful round body, with big breasts and this ass that's just...I can't even describe it. I'm just finally seeing what I REALLY want in a woman." ....and that list, much like my parents list of un-provoked zingers from the past, goes on and on....

 

I cry when I look in the mirror now. I tried to bleach my hair blond, turning it orange. D. used to tell me how he loved my raven-black locks against my pale skin-- he, and a lot of my friends told me I looked like a china doll or a pixie, and those were my nicknames all through high school and still are now...but now I...I feel like a troll. I'm flat chested. D. used to like my small, perky breasts and said that they reminded him, again, of a little pixie...now I feel like I'm not a "real woman", like he said. I'm 90 lb.s ...I'll never have the curves he talked about. I'm short, 5''3....I've got bone structure that causes people who don't know me mistake me for a child sometimes.

 

I'm starting to hate everything I see in the mirror. I can't stop crying over how I look. The things D. said about my body during the dissolving or our marriage and divorce just...it toppled over my self- esteem. I no longer like my unique, pixie-like looks. I want to be blond, tan, tall, and curvy. Have breasts. But with my body structure being so little, and my having severe anemia since age 16 that turned my skin vampire-white, it's just not possible. I have other disorders with glands that make it hard for me to gain weight. I feel like a child next to "real" women with breasts and curves now. I get mistaken for a fourteen year old girl all the time, and I'm 28. I made a mess out of my long, shiny black hair a few months ago by trying desperately to be blond...it all came back....it all came back to get me....

 

My entire childhood came back, because the man who told me he loved me and only me and worshiped my body and thought me the most beautiful thing in the world, just turned the opposite and slammed my looks just like my parents did...it's taking the breath out of my lungs just writing this. I don't even know how to express how it feels to go from loving myself dearly, shining like the sun, and then falling from the top of the mountain, back into the dungeon my parents built for me.

 

I cry when I look in the mirror. I can't stop crying...I get told by perfect strangers everyday how beautiful I am, but instead of beaming and thanking them confidently like I used to, I thank them quietly and go stare in a mirror and cry, looking desperately for what that person must of seen in me that made them say that...and also looking for proof that they're lying just to be nice, or get me to smile-- which I can't do anymore. I feel that even now with straight teeth, my smile is ugly. I hear my dad's voice echo "God, you look so stupid"...

 

I feel so ugly, and I feel like I'm fading away. I miss myself. I miss loving myself. How could he build me up like that and then just...demolish me like an old building? He destroyed all of our work we did on my mind and soul...Please, does anyone else feel this way? Has anyone else ever loved the way they look, then had it taken away by one person? Did anyone else have a childhood that aches in your heart because the people who should have naturally thought you were beautiful because they MADE you, were disgusted by you?

 

I just need to hear something. Anything. That I'm not alone, or that it's okay to feel this bad. That I can feel beautiful again. That I can like myself again...is it possible? I've kept this all in until now. The same with the other post I left in the Divorce-Healing section.

 

God, I know I wrote people a novel there, but I've kept this complicated, puzzle of a mess deep in my heart, head and guts and it's just pouring out, and it's kind of a separate problem from just the divorce. This is ancient. I'm sorry for going on for so long, but I need help so badly. I just need to hear from people. Because I keep having flashbacks of my childhood abuse, and D.'s horrid comments. I have nightmares about it. I wake up crying. I need something, anything, because flashes of jumping off the bridge in my town, or hanging myself in the shower keep going through my head...

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I understand a bit about what it's like to be insulted and verbally abused like that by a parent, and also to be mercilessly bullied, but not anything like what you went through at home. I'm so sorry. Yes, you have every right to be feeling this way right now, especially since you've kept it buried for so long, and the divorce is triggering you - as many of us can attest, you can bury it all you like but eventually it will come bubbling up. Is therapy an option for you? Seems like you'd really, really benefit from talking this through with a professional. I'd say CBT-focused therapy might be a good bet.

 

Also, try to remind yourself when you are looking in the mirror attacking yourself that there is more to you than looks. What are you good at? What are you passionate about? There is so much more to you as a human being than the way you look.

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I think you will start to see yourself as the beautiful woman you have seen yourself as in the past, and as you know others see you (the friend's who say you're like a china doll etc) again. Obviously the cruel things your husband said has brought back the horrible childhood memories - but I can see through your post that you already know that the people at fault here are the abusers. There's something warped about the perspectives and attitudes of the people saying/doing these things - there's nothing warped about you - I'm sure you are beautiful.

 

The truth about beauty is that for 99% of people - we're beautiful in the eyes of some - and not beautiful in the eyes of others. And that's a good thing.

 

You should avoid contact with people who make you feel ugly and try hard not to ruminate on the things they said and did. Repeating these things to yourself (reading your post over and over - imagining the incidents over and over - imagining your husbands words over and over) is contributing to your feeling ugly. So you have to stop - no matter how tempting it may be.

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Your parents had extreme issues in order to fill your childhood with so much abuse. That is not normal, not impossible, but not normal at all and you firstly have to see them for what they are - cold, vile, hurtful people who take their insecurities out on their own children.

Know also, that how you looked wouldn't have mattered, they would have still found some flaw in order to abuse you physically and emotionally.

You could have had the straightest teeth, perfect hair every day, a hard flat stomach and the clearest skin - the obsession with looks is only the tip of the iceberg in my opinion.

I can relate to you a lot with the looks department, even to the very last detail of the pixie ear! I am still told I am beautiful from the people who love me because I am to them.

I read through your post and my flesh just crawled at how these people treated you and humiliated you.

The only ugly people involved here are your parents, your ex husband and your grandmother for being so cruel to someone they should have always appreciated as beautiful, inside and out.

The consequences of this abuse has lead you to need other people to validate your beauty in order to feel beautiful. When you met your ex husband, he made you feel beautiful for probably the first time in your life, and you were able to believe because you were told it enough.

The fact that the only person who made you feel beautiful in your life decided one day that you weren't anymore has probably sent you reeling back into how you felt as a child because without his validation, you are once again no longer the happy and secure woman you were back then.

I seriously urge you to go to therapy. The obsession with looks and being beautiful your parents had has forced itself on to you and now you are probably just as critical towards yourself as they were. Don't abuse yourself the way they did.

Finding a way to feel beautiful without anyone else having to convince you that you are is going to be a huge step, but a necessary one. We all have our "flaws" but that is what makes us unique. The man for you is out there, and he is going to love everything about you and your body. But you must do that on your own first and perhaps you are too far in this to do it all alone. A therapist will help you let go of your exes words and hopefully your parents as well.

 

I'll tell you one thing, I have no respect for your parents. If I saw them being cruel to a child in public, apart from stepping in and threatening to call the police, I would look at them with all the disgust in the world. I also have no respect for your ex. I believe him to be extremely pathetic, and this big-boobed blonde wonder-woman he is looking so desperately for won't even give him a second glance.

 

I'm really sorry you are going through this. Learn to love your flaws, although to be quite honest the way you have described yourself (yes, crooked teeth and all) to me seems like you are gorgeous, and way too good for any of the likes of them.

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Thanks for responding. I am sorry it took a couple of days for me to respond-- writing all of that was kind of like vomiting emotionally for me, and I needed to rest. It's weird how emotions and memories can have such a profound effect on your physical body. It literally wore me out and I had no energy after typing both of my posts.

 

Also, I apologize for all the spelling and grammar errors I made-- it's probably only me who noticed-- I tend to be a perfectionist about my own writing, going over and over it before submitting anything, checking for errors,all for some reason I'm not sure of. I was drinking a little, you know, using the old "liquid courage" to help me get all of it out and actually admit it, so I do apologize if any of it sounded unintelligent or was hard to understand. Facepalm.

 

So...thank you, SpottiOtti-- for reading in the first place, I've seen some of your responses on other posts before and they always make good sense. And yeah, I should work harder on trying to remember what I have other than my looks. Another problem that I have is that I feel that all of the things I'm talented at-- singing, acting in theatre, drawing and painting, playing guitar, archery-- are mediocre. I feel that they are simply "okay", but there's no stand-out thing about them that is a glowing, exceptional talent. I became the token "pretty girl" in my group of friends and in my family after what I call my "transformation"-- it's even how they (both my friends and family) introduced me: "...this is so and so, he's in a band, this is Anne, she gets straight A's, and this is Megan, the pretty one..."

 

In my family, before I "transformed" and I was still in what I call my "awkward form" with my knobby knees, scrawny body, buck teeth and a nose that I hadn't grown into, my sisters and I were presented like this: "This is Natalee, our youngest, she's so cute and engergetic just LOVES to play. This is Britt, our middle child, she's getting so pretty, doesn't she just have the most amazing eyes?She's the pretty one, we hope she'll lose a little weight and be a model someday ...and that's Megan." Really, that's how it was. They'd say my introduction so flat and hurried, and kind of dissapointed. But after my transformation and puberty hit all of us girls, it was: This is Natalee, she's getting to be a handful and has an attutude, we don't know what to do with her. This is Brittany, she's tough-as-nails and likes to party, we're getting a little worried about her rebelliousness. And this is Megan-- the beautiful daughter." ...No mention of my talents, or achievements at school, or even the fact that I was a good kid and never got into trouble at school or with the law, unlike my sisters. Everyone, friends and family, focused on my looks. Now that I look back, that's what I recall them ever giving me any kind of recognition for.

 

So, I guess I began to feel like...that was all there was to me? Like, that's all I had that was "stand-out" about me. I was conventionally pretty, I had somehow had good enough genes and my features all matured in a very fortunate way making me look the way one should look if they want to be a model or be on TV.--- and that's all there was.

 

It felt good at the time, but it still-- even then-- left me with a hollow feeling, because just like my family, my friends never commented on how loyal I was to them, or how I would go the extra mile, or how I was always there when they needed me. I was just a face. They didn't NOTICE the things that I'd do for them, that they wouldn't even do for me, but only for eachother. They would always celebrate eachother's achievements and milestones, but I was just...the face. I was treated differently; their admiration of me was of a superficial place, and I wasn't even as human to them as they were to eachother-- and it began to show after years of kidding myself, and trying to convince myself that they loved me for what I did for them and not because they saw some superficial importance because of what I was known as or the attention I recieved, and felt like they should keep me around because it made our circle thought of a certain way.

 

For example, they'd begin taking things out on me-- like if they had a rough day, they'd make fun at my expense with me there or literally get angry WITH me for no good reason-- and only me, with everyone there. When I asked why, I was told, more than once: "Well, you're gorgeous. It's kind of how people feel they can make fun of celebrities or models, because it can't hurt them, because they're too beautiful-- beautiful people don't have the same feelings as us. We just feel like you can take it, and you can't be unhappy even if people are mean to you because you're so pretty. It won't affect you like it would normal people. Just take it as a compliment!" ..."Normal people"? Normal...I wasn't normal to them. They saw me as someone who wasn't as human, because I was of a certain level of attractive. I just wound up lucky with certain features as I matured, so they felt they could say whatever they wanted, not make a big deal of my birthday or achievements because I didn't "need" that-- I had my looks, and that made everything in my life bullet-proof and perfect.

 

When they explained thier behavior to me like that, I almost felt sick. They didn't see me as a person. My ex used to try and tell me what the girls in our group of friends would say about me when I'd leave the room-- basically using me as a dartboard for no reason at all, saying catty and jealous things-- but I didn't believe him, at the time. They loved me, I was sure of it, because I bent over backwards, and drove them home when they drank too much, and lent them money, and helped them through rough expereinces...and...and...and I did this, and I did that, and this and then that...blah, and blah, and effing blah. When I got divorced, they showed me what only a few people noticed was true before and had tried to warn me about-- they didn't care about me or my feelings as much as I thought. I was allowed to hang with them, but I wasn't one of them. They flocked around eachother when one of us had a death in the family, a personal tradgedy, or a relationship break-up...but when I asked for them to come comfort me, expecting similar treatment, I was actually told "What do you need that for? You're beautiful, you haven't got anything to cry about! You've got those looks, you have no idea how lucky you are!".........But I had lost a husband, my relationship of about 14 years. I needed them, and I needed them desperately, but in their eyes, I didn't. I wasn't as human to them, so what could possibly hurt me so badly that they had to stop thier busy scheduals to come let me cry in thier arms-- celebrities are just faces, just persona's and not "real people" and our culture, I think, has started to subconsciously think that way about people who look a certain way.

 

I can't tell you how many times in the past year I've noticed women in various social situations, referring to themselves as "real" women, when in comparison to me. At parties, or trying on clothes in dressing rooms, going up to pay for them-- "You're so skinny-- and so pretty!" "Why, thank you!" I'd say. "But you're not a "real" woman like me. I've got some meat on my bones, and my face looks real..." It never failed to leave me feeling confused or speechless. There was a whole complicated universe in my head, a whole intricate and dramatic past that was a huge part of who I was, but to them they saw one of The Plastics from Mean Girls. I've actually been called that. By perfect strangers and by people close to me. " Plastic". As in not real. Dolls are plastic. My nickname: China doll...china doll...dolls aren't real...I get it now...

 

So, in a round-about-way...I feel worth less than other people, because of how they see me. What used to be "my thing" was still nice to have-- I won't lie, I'm grateful, it gets me places and allows me to do the things I want to do like act and get auditions, do some modeling-- but it also caused a rude awakening to the limitations of what people would think about me, or feel for me. And now, there's a feeling of hollow-ness in my stomach, a feeling of all the things I thought built me up as a person-- my dog-like loyalty and sacrificing for my friends for approval, and the talents I thought they realized and respected, or were proud of me for...weren't really there, or at least not visible to them. Maybe I was only fooling myself. If all they saw was my conventionally attractive features, maybe that's all there is?...I know it sounds strange, but that's how it makes me feel. Like less of a person, less worthy of human treatment.

 

And though I have these "looks", I have to be honest with myself-- they won't last forever. I've got maybe ten, fifteen years left before age starts to chip away at it. Mother Nature will have her due, and what will I have...pity from people who remember how beautiful I once was. "Oh, that's so sad, she used to be so pretty when she was young...she's just an old lady now..." I've heard it said about other people. I will be no exception.

 

It feels icky, and I feel empty. But now that everyone I thought loved me SOOOOO MUCH! has told me how they really feel, and now that I've had my childhood abuse triggered into a full blown complex and possible body-dismorphic disorder by my divorce and the thoughtless words from my very-changed husband, I now don't even have the feeling of that achievement. Everyone convinced me that I was "the pretty girl" and that that was all I had and all that mattered, but now that I'm not so sure of even THAT anymore...I feel left with nothing. That stress and life have taken my only "thing" and...well, how pathetic is that? I feel pathetic...

 

I'm supposed to audition for a friend's rock band today. They need a female singer with a deep voice, like mine, and I'm supposed to try out. Normally I'd stride in there with confidance, but...not the new me. Not the reduced me. I'm shaking, and I've still got hours to go before I even have to get ready. I feel like I'm going to the gallows. I feel like throwing up. I feel like, what if I never had a good voice in the first place-- that it may be okay, but not really good enough to perform. What if they ask my friend who recommended me why the hell he thought of ME, I'm no GOOD...I'm trying. I'm going to go try-out even if I barf on thier trendy shoes and expensive instruments. I'm trying to be something deeper than a conventionally pretty face. I want people to feel and see my soul this time. See inside, and think..."Wow. That's a special human being."

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Circe-- You're right. I've forgotten about that. Not every beautiful person is considered beautiful by everyone. Everyone has different tastes, different likes, all brought on my experiences and such...maybe that will help me with how I feel about how the stress of everything is changing how I look, or when I age. I can try to remember, that to someone I'm still beautiful...My boyfriend, thinks my "pixie ear" is adorable...I've always seen it as a flaw, always been TOLD it's a flaw that needs to be fixed one day, but he's begged me not to get plastic surgery on it like my agent suggested. He loves it. He likes how tiny I am. He says he likes the "little pixie look", and that it endears me to him. He once desribed my uber-pale skin and black hair giving me a "tragic beauty"...he said it with such reverence, that I had to feel like it was a good thing, and something he likes. I'd always seen my unchangeably pale skin as a defect, an effect of the severe anemia that I developed at high school. Everyone else makes vampire and Cullen Family jokes...but he sees beauty in it...I have to remember that I'm lucky to have him, because he sees my flaws as special. He sees something I don't.

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And yeah, Circe and CeeLambrini-- I do recognize that my complex is caused by abuse. I do recognize that they've done me wrong. I even refrained from writing about the worst of the abuse my parents did to me and my sisters, I don't know why...maybe telling someone the worst bits would do me some good...I need more courage for some reason before I can do that...I don't know why...I'd have to me severely delusional to not realize that my problems and all that I am is largely caused by what I went through when my young brain and psyche was still developing. I'm a poster-child for what you SHOULDN'T do to kids for fear of messing them up, and creating therapy patients.

 

Yes, to answer all three of you about the therapy, I am looking. Because of the divorce, I have no money, lost my health insurance...so I'm trying desperately to find a counselor that would either have a very low-curved sliding scale fee (which would still be a pinch in the pocket-book for me at the moment) or one for free, which I know exist but are hard to find in a city the size I live in. I do feel kind of stuck in that situation, but I believe counseling would help me very much if I can obtain it. For now, this site is all I have-- which I'm very grateful for by the way. You guys are incredibly kind. Thank you, Cee-- for your kind words. You sound like a very warm, loving person. I wish the people I'd chosen as friends had been more like you. (You have a pixie-ear too? That's awesome, and makes me feel better )

 

Yes, my parents had their own complexes at the time, and thier life circumstances made them do things that were so inconcievable to me, that sometimes I try and convince myself that it was just a very long, horrible nightmare that I had. They couldn't have been that bad. I wish... My dad had temper issues. Aside from being obsessed with looks (I don't know where that came from. The only thing I can think of is that he is from a generation (born in the fourties, reached puberty in the 50's, he's a old fart, I know) that saw the blond, blue-eyed, all-American, apple pie girl as being the epitome of female attractiveness, and everything else was just less. I think he must have internalized that, somewhere, somehow...I also look a lot like my grandmother-- his mother-- and his mother was both verbally, and sometimes physically abusive to him-- I look just like her when you look at younger pictures of her, when she first came to America. I got all her eithnic, Italian features, including her thick, black hair and dark eyes. I think dad, in his anger with Grandma and subconscious resentment of her, rejects women who look like her and exaggerates the beauty of women who are the exact opposite of her darker kind of beauty. My grandma was a gorgeous women in her younger days, that's why Grandpa fell head-over-heels with her during he war and brought her over here...but man, does she have some emotional problems, and they continued on in Dad and on to me....Dad was cruel to me, and the abuse, if it wasn't over my looks, was usually caused by nothing at all, and I mean that. No exaggeration. If he felt like hitting something, he hit me, whether I had anything to do with it or not. Even my mother recognized what he was doing eventually, and stopped him in my later teen years. It was a struggle, but she eventually, in her realization of what they'd both done to me, threatened Dad that she'd take me and run off if he kept beating me and saying cruel things to me for no reason. As much as she contributed to the abuse and problems, she's the one I'm a little closer to, because she apologized and is the only one who will admit that they were wrong.

 

My mother...my mother is never satisfied. She is a push-over, lets other people tell her how to feel and what to think, but turns to escapism over things she can't control. Her abuse toward me and my sisters was worse when she drank. She escaped in beer, and other vices. She checked out emotionally. She has a lot of regrets of things she DOESN'T HAVE, and will not concentrate on the things she does...I think she'll regret that, as well, someday, but for now she keeps doing a number of things that I won't share now, that keeps her at a distance with the entire family, and is causing quite a problem...... She's an insanely pretty lady, and even at age 50, still gets carded when buying her beloved beer. I miss her long dark hair she had when I was very young, but because of dad, it is now bobbed, and bleached blond. She already had the blue eyes, so...it was easy to be his ideal. And she let him dictate it. She tried about three times to dye her hair back to a darker color, and each time he threw a fit that almost brought the roof down. She had to go right back to blond, to keep him happy.

 

I remember one day, when I was about seven, I was watching her put on make-up in the bathroom and I asked her why she wore it. It seemed so strange to me, to put all those colors on your face...and she said "So your daddy doesn't leave me for another woman." The full-impact didn't hit until my later years. All three of my sisters, (and all of the ladies in my family) wouldn't DREAM of leaving the house without a full face of make-up, expertly done. I watched them shame eachother if they tried to go without it. One of my life goals is to out-side someday, with no make-up on. But everytime I try to, I nearly have a panic attack, and have to run back inside and at least put on foundation to cover the pink acne scars left over from my childhood. My dad and my grandmother's voices echo in my head about how ugly my face was with those dots, I can't go outside without hiding them...not yet. But I'm trying.

 

My mother has a lot of other problems, my father too. I could write a book on each of them. And their causes-and-effects are almost so cliche and so transparent it would almost be laughable if it hadn't caused so much pain. But the bottom line was always there: Mom escapes, Dad destroys. The unwitting accomplice, and the devestating tyrant.

 

Sometimes, all I'd like is just a single apology from Dad. Just one. Just one, without lacing it up and disguising it with reasons, and fibs-- he justifies them, in an almost disgusting manner....It could heal so much of me if he'd just admit what he did, and that it was wrong to do...Mom says he never will, that he "blocks it out" to save himself the guilt and shame. My Aunt said recently, that he has admitted to her that his treatment and violence toward me, was the reason I was the way I was (all of my physical and mental illnesses). I just wish he'd say it to ME...show ME remorse. That could do so much.

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