I used to be able to say this. From our wedding in 1994 to approximately 2000, I could say with a fair amount of confidence that my husband, at that time, had no thought about the idea of having “settled for a fat wife.”
He supported me, I supported him. We made a fairly decent partnership. We weren’t perfect – he with his rage and brokenness, and me with my arrogance that I could somehow ‘save him’ from himself.
But, the physical side of things ended up going sour. We both got older, and he – as do many men as they get older – had some issues with erectile dysfunction. But, instead of looking at himself and perhaps what might be wrong with his own physical health (things like blood pressure, GI disturbance, or any of the hundreds of things that can cause ED – including his own mental illness), it was all my fault because I was “too fat to be desirable.”
Given that I weighed less than I did the day we got married, it was quite a blow to my self-esteem. And, given society’s opinion of the situation, it was pretty much a given that I would blame myself just as much as he blamed me.
I put up with it. I agreed I was the problem, and promised to work on it. I struggled, trying to lose weight. I changed my diet, I did more exercise, but the weight just didn’t budge.
For years, I put up with this. For years, I let myself be celibate while he swanned around with a bevy of women of all sizes (including women larger than me). Although we were polyamorous, I also allowed myself to cut myself off from having romantic relationships other than him, because it would damage his own self-esteem if I did so.
No matter what I did, or what I said, nothing was good enough.
Then, along came the hysterectomy. And, as I was warned by my therapist, there was a sea-change in my feelings and desires. I wanted more. I wanted what many heterosexual women want: to be desired, loved and seen as sexy by the man/men in my life. My libido went through the roof (after twelve years of pretty much asexuality). And I started to ask myself what about me is so bad? What about me is keeping me lonely?
And you know what? Eventually I realized it was the armor in which I had enclosed myself, to protect from being hurt or rejected. It was me rejecting the world before it could reject me.
So, I made a change in myself. Not losing weight, but losing the utter conviction that I was too fat to be loved or desired. Ridding myself of that unwillingness to be approachable.
Hmmm, what happened? I became desirable. I became desired. I had opportunities to experience love and desire from men of all types (large, small, short, tall, etc).
I stopped rejecting the world, and the world opened its arms to me.
Oh, not all the men were worth my time or energy. Just like everyone else, I started to see that I was worthy, and that I deserved better than what I was getting.
And, that, my friends, was the beginning of the end of my marriage. Realizing that I too deserved to be supported, to be loved, to be a partner in a relationship. That I deserved better than having to be the support, the lover, the caregiver.
It took me almost 3 years to finally break out of the mold I had created for myself, and it took persistent support from my boyfriend and my sister for me to have the courage to do so. But I did.
It’s all well and good to have a lover who validates your beauty. But until you can validate your own beauty, you will never feel comfortable with being loved or desired.