Sir Issac Newton was onto something deeper than physics when he came up with his Third Law, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I lacked self-confidence. I moved around a lot as a kid. I found it hard to make friends. I was lonely, an outcast. I hated myself. I was vulnerable and like Newton’s Law, reactive.
I was bullied so much in High School that I had to change classes a few times, which made my confidence plummet.
Guys weren’t interested in me. No one had asked me out. To this day, I’ve only been hit on properly, once. What was wrong with me?
Being with my first proper longterm boyfriend did nothing to help. In fact, he squashed any sort of confidence I had left when he told me, whilst I was trying to ask him out, that I try too hard. I was crippled by the blow. I collapsed to the floor and bawled my eyes out. I stopped trying: my homework, sport, work, everything. I feared hearing those words again, a try-hard.
I stayed with him. We weren’t invited to things because he never wanted to go out. I lost the few friends I had and couldn’t make new ones. I retracted into my shell and put on a mask. If somebody said something hurtful about me, with the mask on, it couldn’t affect me.
Our love life was dismal. Often, we’d go months without having sex and neither of us masturbated. I remember asking him outright if he was gay and didn’t know how to come out to me. He left me feeling unsexy, unwanted and unloveable. He made me feel like there was something wrong with me because he never wanted to be near me, preferring the company of his video games.
Things got even worse, when at the age of 22, we married. In hindsight, I don’t know why I agreed to it.
He became addicted to his video games. I tried for three months to get him to stop playing them and give me some attention, with no success. I had to do something.
Unsatisfied and ready to explode, I turned to self-love. I started masturbating, experimenting before he got home. I decided to use an old electric toothbrush to try and feel something for the first time. I was in shock one day when I finally admitted to myself that I had never really come.
I could never let myself go and enjoy sex. Why? Because he was sexually vacant.
He hated going down on me. We rarely had sex. He would often tell me that I got too wet. A bodily function I couldn’t control. Wasn’t it a good thing; a sign of arousal?
By this stage, whatever confidence I had left was well and truly shattered.
I was completely paranoid about being naked around him. My face, my body, my vagina: all repulsive.
I didn’t want to ever disappoint or turn him off, so sex (on the rare occasion we actually did it) wasn’t enjoyable for me, as I was worried during the whole process. Was I too wet? Was I smelly? Had I missed a spot shaving? I was a nervous wreck.
About 18 months after we’d married (and just over seven years of being together), I worked up the courage to say, no.
So, I left him. It was a pivotal moment in my life. I’d worked up the courage to walk away, knowing I’d be okay, and hoping I’d find a partner who I could enjoy life with one day. More importantly, that I deserved to be happy.
I had a huge amount of support (much to my surprise) from my parents, siblings and friends.
Not too long after, a friend asked me out. This had never happened to me before. I was both nervous and excited, worried about what people might say, and how they would judge me dating so soon after my marriage had broken down.
He washed all of that away. To show his commitment, he wrote a lengthy email to my parents explaining why he felt the way he did about me. My self-confidence was on the rise. I was brave, strong and empowered. I was worth something, to someone.
Over the summer, we went to the beach. He asked me why I was covering myself up.
“You have a spectacular body,” he said.
“Why are you so shy?”
I told him that I hated my thunder-thighs and stretch marks, and didn’t want anyone to be grossed-out by my body. I was mentally scarred.
On a side note, I remember during the first few months of dating, I drove my new boyfriend insane because I kept asking if he minded that I went to the loo quickly.
He got cranky and said, “Why do you keep asking me that? Just go, it’s human nature.”
I started to cry and told him my ex would get angry if we were about to go somewhere (or were out doing something) and I had to go to the loo. I was used to having to ask for permission. He told me I was stupid, and after a few more trips to the beach, managed to somehow persuade me to go topless. He was rock-hard the majority of the time, which made me feel amazing.
To see my new boyfriend turned on so easily was incredible.
One of our friend’s owned a skimpy, sexy bikini and my boyfriend suggested I get one. I was shocked. Me, in a sheer-when-wet, g-string bikini? No way. Absolutely not. I was not about to flaunt my fat arse, dimples, stretch marks and all. So, I ordered three.
I enjoy wearing them at public beaches. Yes, in front of people.
In just a over two years together, he’s completely changed how I see myself. He’s helped me get my confidence back and then some.
My experiences have taught me to not put your happiness in your partner. Do things that make you happy, that you want to do. Be proud and confident in your choices, your body and yourself.