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I Don't Know Who I Am Any More

by Rene
(South Africa)

I have been married for 8 years, and we have an 8 year old daughter, (yup, she was early, I fell pregnant in my Matric year). I was so in love with my husband when he proposed to me, I did not think twice about being his wife. He made me feel loved, respected and cherished.

I was 17 years old and I felt so good about my life. Being pregnant I picked up a huge amount of weight. He would scoff and tell me to stop eating like a buffalo. That's when my life went downhill. After my baby was born, my husband started treating me different. I was disgusting, obese, a failure, and worth nothing because I had failed to lose weight.

I made little love letters in his lunch box, and I was told to stop doing that because it's embarrassing. I made food, and it was complaint after complaint. I cleaned and cooked, washed clothes and the works and I had a 7 to 5 job where I worked weekends as well.

I had to give him my bank card and never got any money from him. I have to beg and cry for anything that I want. He tells me the little bit of money I make does not give me any right to have any of these things I would like to have. I never got makeup or jewelery till I begged and cried for it. I have no accounts in my name and I would be testing his patience to even ask for those things.

He and I would fight because I used to be a very strong person and I tried to speak to him about the way I feel and it would end up being physical between the both of us. In the end I would grovel and beg for forgiveness, feeling like it's my fault and he said it is. He has cheated on me and when I asked him why, he told me it's because I'm fat and he wanted to poke a thin person.

He constantly tells me he's leaving because he's had enough of me and I beg and plead for him to stay. I'm terrified of not having him. I was abandoned by both my parents at 6 years old, and I don't want that for my daughter.

I'm not as house wifey as I used to be. I've just given up. I can't do what I used to do anymore, but they never go hungry. I'm so tired.
I recently found out that I have diabetes type 2, and as a result I struggle to lose weight. All he says is that I am a failure and I fail with everything, and he is not going to stay with a fat wife.

I told him he should love me for me, he says he does. But he constantly talks about other women and talks to them all the time, telling me that they look so much better than I do. He has never called me beautiful in my life, and he says he will only do it if I earn it.

I don't know what to do anymore.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Rene, and thanks for telling your story here. Your journey sounds quite painful, and you make it clear that you have almost completely given up. I'm glad you haven't completely given up, and that you reached out for help here.

I think your fear of abandonment is not doing you any good in your marriage. I recommend that you do some emotional healing work to address your abandonment wounds, which will hopefully make you more emotionally independent. If you stay with your husband, it needs to be because you truly love him and want to be in the marriage. Staying with him only because of your fear of abandonment and your desire for your children not to go through that will not bring you happiness, and it may not even be the best thing for your children.

You may need counseling to work through this, but I will recommend some exercises you can do on your own. Start with the trauma writing exercise on this page, to review your childhood wounds. Then use these imagery processes for emotional healing to resolve your trauma.

Ultimately Rene, you need to love yourself, and get your focus off of your husband and what you need from him. You're a good person, and you are worthy of a good life. Tell yourself that you are beautiful, over and over, until you start believing it. The positive journaling exercise in the first link above will help you with that.

You can do this, Rene. Make up your mind to discover and focus on the goodness and beauty of who you are, and make that focus your top priority.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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