How do I learn to like ME?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 20, 2011 7:58 AM GMT
    What I'm about to say is setting a basis for the question I want to ask the Forum. How do I learn to like ME?

    (I apologize ahead of time if any of what I'm about to say bothers any of you men!)

    Today I visited my Therapist at the Phoenix VA. I've been undergoing Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The trauma occurred from being sexually molested by my father. In addition to the sexual abuse, I was physically beaten and emotionally abused. I'm going to be 66 years old next week, but only found out most of this about a year ago. One thing I am glad of is that I found out what the burden was, instead of carrying around guilt and shame all my life! That is a heavy load to bear.

    The sexual abuse probably occurred when I was 5 or 6 years old. That was when I started having nightmares every night, as well as claustrophobia, being afraid of the dark and what I perceived as a ghost attacking me in the middle of the night. I couldn't fall asleep until the sun came up. All of this, all of my life!

    Whatever trauma happened to me, I've pushed so far back into my head, that I can't even find it. The realization of the sexual abuse surfaced in a horrific night terror I had on 04/24/2009 at 3:00am. I woke up screaming from the nightmare of my father beating me to death because I was fighting him off from any more sexual attacks on me.

    In addition to abuse from my father, I was being inappropriately touched and abused by my mother. My baby sister was dead at birth. Her birth was one year after I was born. So to cope with the death of the baby girl, my mother did a very dysfunctional thing by dressing me in girl's clothes, calling me a girl's name, and teaching me to do things girls are taught. I learned this from my brother about 5 years ago.

    I was the youngest in the family, and so the easiest to pick on. One of my sisters verbally abused me. My other 3 siblings ignored me and made me feel like I was abandoned and alone. In a house filled with 7 people, I was by myself.

    My Therapist told me today that...I don't like myself...and I don't love myself. I thought I liked myself...man was I wrong! I've been liking and loving other men. All these men were taking the place of me. I like them, but I don't like myself. They are doing what I'm suppose to do...love me!

    How do I learn to like ME? What do I do to love ME?
  • mynyun

    Posts: 1346

    Jan 20, 2011 12:14 PM GMT

    Any ideas from your therapist on this.? It isn't easy. Though I didn't have anything happen to me as you are describing it I have a difficult time liking me for stuff from the past.
    The only thing that comes to mind is be by yourself and get comfortable with yourself. Sounds easy. But there are distractions in this. Like you are alone but you may start to watch television or call someone up on the phone.
    The only thing that comes to mind is be productive. Start projects at the house and congratulate yourself on finishing them. Make them YOURS. Pat yourself on the back when you finish them and do a good job. Don't beat yourself down if you don't like the results or don't finish them.

    For example of projects.
    Building models
    Home improvements
    Yard work
    Databases on your computer or what not
    Hobbies
    Volunteer

    These are just loose ideas I just came up with that MAY help. It may also help to keep visiting your therapist. But I think if you can see the positive outcomes of things you have done that will be a big step to helping you like YOU again.
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    Jan 20, 2011 1:19 PM GMT
    FurMur1 said
    How do I learn to like ME? What do I do to love ME?


    Accept yourself exactly as you are.
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    Jan 20, 2011 7:03 PM GMT
    Friend, Thank you for your post, I am moved to tears by your recent discovery and I offer you my personal support in your effort to heal. This discovery and healing process is proof of how brave you are and is testimony to your strong character. I believe that through this, you will find your real self and I believe you will find that you do, in fact love yourself, your bravery and your experience alone should allow you to see your strengths and you should be so very proud of yourself for getting through this hell and for ending up a valued, law abiding member of society. One could surmise how difficult it must have been for you to fit in to this world after all that hell. Kudos for you for doing so and I applaud you for your courage and perseverance. You are in my thoughts, I wish you all the happiness in the world, I hope that you get exactly what you are looking for, I hope that you love yourself, because, you really deserve it. You are worth it. Good luck and please let us know how you are doing. Regards, Tonyicon_biggrin.gif
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    Jan 20, 2011 7:10 PM GMT
    center said
    FurMur1 said
    How do I learn to like ME? What do I do to love ME?


    Accept yourself exactly as you are.


    i agree. if you accept yourself for exactly what you are, youll be happier. also it doesnt happen over night. also it may never happen. but if you continuously move into a direction of wellness and understand that you arent responsible for shitty things having been done to you but you are responsible for recovering from them..then youll see progress and i think itll make you feel better.
    id also lay off the dudes for a little while if its a coping mechanism. theres a group called sex + love addicts anonymous that might help. 12 step programs helped me when i was having trouble with substance abuse.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Jan 20, 2011 7:10 PM GMT
    You just took the first big step.

    You gave yourself permission to express painful, horrific truths that most men would NEVER have the courage or sense of self-worth to address and to seek healing.

    You stepped into a community of virtual strangers and claimed your own identity and place and did so not out of pity or shame, but out of a clear and compelling desire to survive and thrive. Only a man who is aware on some level of his own self-worth and value as a human being could do so.

    Sit with this much long enough to know that this act in and of itself is yours today, now, and not anybody else's. You are in control. You have the power. You have an identity and purpose. Self-actualization is a journey, and you have not shied from your journey one step. You survived because you loved yourself enough to still be here and living, thriving and believing.

    You just gave yourself the first proof that you DO love yourself and like yourself. That is a seed certain to grow and bear fruit.
  • Ironman4U

    Posts: 738

    Jan 20, 2011 7:17 PM GMT
    Ditto what Tony said above.

    Whatever happened to you as a child was beyond your control. You did not cause it or contribute to it. And while it may have damaged you in many ways, you are a strong, brave and loving man. By understanding the source of your pain, you can continue to heal and grow stronger and be the man that you want to be. You have full control now to live your life and to love yourself the way you deserve. No one can take that away from you.

    Best to you!
  • DrewT

    Posts: 1327

    Jan 20, 2011 7:25 PM GMT
    center said
    FurMur1 said
    How do I learn to like ME? What do I do to love ME?


    Accept yourself exactly as you are.


    ^This

    Tell yourself that you love you as you are. It's taken me over a year and I'm almost there icon_smile.gif
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    Jan 20, 2011 7:30 PM GMT
    Zen Meditation. Give it a try.
  • mybud

    Posts: 11819

    Jan 20, 2011 8:02 PM GMT
    First ...continue with your therapy..professionals are your best guide you to long term mental health...Dude your not alone...most of us have experienced abuse...For myself I have forgiven others for past abuses...I have found that the act of forgiving releases any anger..hurt...the act of releasing has helped me move past the pain...I have forgiven and forgotten..it no longer has power over me....Liking yourself...there's no one else like you...your unique...that uniqueness is where your beauty lies man...Focus on yourself....embrace what's yours....this isn't the time to look for bf's...you need to focus your energy in cultivating your esteem and personal qualities...BUD
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    Jan 20, 2011 8:19 PM GMT
    I have a question. I'm not saying these events didn't happen...I have friends who were abused as children. But how does one "found out about" that they were abused as a child? I mean, without a memory of it?

    Did the therapist interview people who knew your father, or did your father admit to this abuse at some time--I presume he's dead, otherwise you could ask him directly. Did your mother admit to anything; is she dead?

    All of my friends who were abused as children have memories of the events. They WANT to forget, but they cannot. Their coping mechanism has much to do with NOT dredging the events up, and living life in the present.

    So tell me, how did you "found out about" this?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 20, 2011 8:27 PM GMT
    Rupaul said it best.

    "If you can't love yourself how the hell are you gonna love someone else"

    Ru-Paul-368x583.jpg
  • Mikeylikesit

    Posts: 1021

    Jan 20, 2011 8:34 PM GMT
    mickeytopogigio saidI have a question. I'm not saying these events didn't happen...I have friends who were abused as children. But how does one "found out about" that they were abused as a child? I mean, without a memory of it?

    Did the therapist interview people who knew your father, or did your father admit to this abuse at some time--I presume he's dead, otherwise you could ask him directly. Did your mother admit to anything; is she dead?

    All of my friends who were abused as children have memories of the events. They WANT to forget, but they cannot. Their coping mechanism has much to do with NOT dredging the events up, and living life in the present.

    So tell me, how did you "found out about" this?


    Ohhh....It happened to me too. I was sexually abused as a child and did not realize this until much later in life. I think this is the brains defense mechanisms trying to protect you as a child.
    icon_evil.gif
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    Jan 20, 2011 9:21 PM GMT
    "If I am not for myself, who will be [for me]? And when I am for myself, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?" --Hillel (a contemporary to Jesus and possibly one of His teachers)


    LOVING THIS... THX
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    Jan 20, 2011 9:43 PM GMT
    I think you just have to accept the reality that you're normal. Everyone has things about themselves that they don't like about themselves whether they admit it publicly or not or to a therapist.

    I would also take everything that your therapist tells you under consideration. Not to say he's wrong but it is only his interpretation. He will never know the real secret inner workings of your mind, ie the real you.

    Now he has planted a dangerous seed of doubt in your mind.

    Quote from you:
    My Therapist told me today that...I don't like myself...and I don't love myself. I thought I liked myself...man was I wrong

    That is a dangerous assumption on his behalf don't you think?


    Why don't you silly as it sounds make a list of your pro's and cons on a piece of blank paper with a line down the middle and just see how your pro's far outnumber your cons. Then you'll see how much there is to like about yourself
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    Jan 20, 2011 10:27 PM GMT
    You must start valuing yourself, for instance put a price tag on yourself.

    Then carry yourself based on that price tag. You can then weed out activities that does not add value to yourself.

    The more you value yourself the more confident and secure you will feel. But it starts deep within you.

    It's not easy, it will take time but you will start to feel good and say no to things that does not help you.

    Remember what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger* Life is about taking risk and being the best you can be.

    Hope this helps.

    ~Irv


    FurMur1 saidWhat I'm about to say is setting a basis for the question I want to ask the Forum. How do I learn to like ME?

    (I apologize ahead of time if any of what I'm about to say bothers any of you men!)

    Today I visited my Therapist at the Phoenix VA. I've been undergoing Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. The trauma occurred from being sexually molested by my father. In addition to the sexual abuse, I was physically beaten and emotionally abused. I'm going to be 66 years old next week, but only found out most of this about a year ago. One thing I am glad of is that I found out what the burden was, instead of carrying around guilt and shame all my life! That is a heavy load to bear.

    The sexual abuse probably occurred when I was 5 or 6 years old. That was when I started having nightmares every night, as well as claustrophobia, being afraid of the dark and what I perceived as a ghost attacking me in the middle of the night. I couldn't fall asleep until the sun came up. All of this, all of my life!

    Whatever trauma happened to me, I've pushed so far back into my head, that I can't even find it. The realization of the sexual abuse surfaced in a horrific night terror I had on 04/24/2009 at 3:00am. I woke up screaming from the nightmare of my father beating me to death because I was fighting him off from any more sexual attacks on me.

    In addition to abuse from my father, I was being inappropriately touched and abused by my mother. My baby sister was dead at birth. Her birth was one year after I was born. So to cope with the death of the baby girl, my mother did a very dysfunctional thing by dressing me in girl's clothes, calling me a girl's name, and teaching me to do things girls are taught. I learned this from my brother about 5 years ago.

    I was the youngest in the family, and so the easiest to pick on. One of my sisters verbally abused me. My other 3 siblings ignored me and made me feel like I was abandoned and alone. In a house filled with 7 people, I was by myself.

    My Therapist told me today that...I don't like myself...and I don't love myself. I thought I liked myself...man was I wrong! I've been liking and loving other men. All these men were taking the place of me. I like them, but I don't like myself. They are doing what I'm suppose to do...love me!

    How do I learn to like ME? What do I do to love ME?
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    Jan 20, 2011 10:40 PM GMT
    mickeytopogigio said
    did your father admit to this abuse at some time--


    Given sexual abuse of children is a felony, do you seriously think a criminal who commits the crime would ever admit to it?

    mickeytopogigio said
    otherwise you could ask him directly.


    And the answer would most likely be a wall of denial. Often the non-abusing spouse will know, yet deny it.

    It's not just the abuse itself that is so damaging. When a child is abused at such a young age, they don't have the consciousness and intellect to handle it. In other words, the REASONS a child will assume they were abused, often have no basis in reality. Yet an abused child can carry these presumed reasons, and live many years of their adult life, based on these fallacious reasons.

    An abused child can easily come to the conclusion the abuse was their fault, or that they deserved it. As an adult, an abused child can set up situations to re-enact the abuse, or participate in a string of abusive relationships, believing they deserve it. Yet, we can't blame the child for any faulty logic or reasoning that results from abuse, because a child has no way at all to make sense of it at such a young age. They often won't be able to pick all of these threads apart until later in adulthood. Often, they can't even begin that work due to an overwhelming sense of lack of safety which resulted from the abuse,
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    Jan 20, 2011 10:42 PM GMT
    beneful1 said
    That is a dangerous assumption on his behalf don't you think?


    Is it assumption or obsevation?
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    Jan 20, 2011 10:59 PM GMT
    The fact that you made it thru all that is enough reason to love you. A lot of people would have cracked into insanity. This shows you must be a strong person, mentally. You have the will and mental power to do anything you want and whats not to love about that
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    Jan 20, 2011 11:06 PM GMT
    center said
    beneful1 said
    That is a dangerous assumption on his behalf don't you think?


    Is it assumption or obsevation?


    potato potahto icon_neutral.gif

    The crux of the matter is is that before his therapist told him this he was fine in thinking that he liked himself. Now he's not perhaps even doubting himself he may be taking this as gospel.
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    Jan 20, 2011 11:08 PM GMT
    center said
    beneful1 said
    That is a dangerous assumption on his behalf don't you think?


    Is it assumption or obsevation?


    Hard to tell without a second opinion. I would not accept the opinions of an oncologist without getting a second (and third) opinion. Should a therapist not be questioned similarly?

    I'm not in the OP's shoes. If I were him I would direct these questions to his therapist or--as any responsible third party would recommend--another therapist. The forum here is unlikely to elicit any meaningful insight or advice. The topic is too heavy for this place.

    If I were meeting with the OP in person I'd have a better idea what he was talking about. Reading his text has raised questions in my head; is his writing an accurate description (if a little vague on the chronology), or are some pieces missing? Because as I read it, the account has holes.

    How was the conclusion reached? Without the OP having a memory of it, on who's account is the evidence being elicited (the OP mentions a sibling, specifically about wearing girls clothes, but does not directly attribute the accounts of abuse to the sibling's revelation)?
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    Jan 20, 2011 11:09 PM GMT
    beneful1 said
    The crux of the matter is is that before his therapist told him this he was fine in thinking that he liked himself.


    Yet, what did he also say in his original post?

    "One thing I am glad of is that I found out what the burden was, instead of carrying around guilt and shame all my life! That is a heavy load to bear."

    The therapist must have noticed the guilt and shame and the OP admits it. Guilt and shame are common with abuse.
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    Jan 20, 2011 11:15 PM GMT
    mickeytopogigio said
    I would not accept the opinions of an oncologist without getting a second (and third) opinion. Should a therapist not be questioned similarly?


    I left one after two months, not needing another opinion as to whether that one was a good fit for me or not, which is neither here nor there. How I handle it is not how you or the OP might handle it.

    mickeytopogigio said
    The topic is too heavy for this place.


    I don't know. I have enjoyed reading the responses, and it seems at least a few others here are dealing with the issue of self acceptance, if not necessarily with the after effects of abuse.

    mickeytopogigio said
    Reading his text has raised questions in my head; is his writing an accurate description (if a little vague on the chronology), or are some pieces missing? Because as I read it, the account has holes.


    Maybe he gave us the condensed version, not wanting to pen a mini-series on a web forum.

    mickeytopogigio said
    How was the conclusion reached?


    What does it matter? You think he's paying a therapist to listen to stuff he made up? I suppose he could be, but I doubt it. I guess I generally trust what people say, until they give me reason not to. Additionally, I have known MANY people throughout my life who have lived in and overcome similar situations. Maybe that's why nothing the OP says leaves me in doubt. I also doubt if anyone can know the mind of the OP or his experiences better than he himself can. Although, a good therapist will pick up on and 'read' the subconscious behaviors and beliefs that we may not yet be aware of.
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    Jan 20, 2011 11:25 PM GMT
    center saidWhat does it matter? You think he's paying a therapist to listen to stuff he made up? I suppose he could be, but I doubt it. I guess I generally trust what people say, until they give me reason not to. I doubt anyone can know the mind of the OP or his experiences better than he himself can. Although, a good therapist will pick up on and 'read' the subconscious behaviors and beliefs that we may not yet be aware of.


    This is one of the holes. The OP is asking for advice on how to like/love himself, after the therapist told him he was NOT happy (contrary to the OP's own feelings). Asking us, anonymous strangers, who are neither privy to nor qualified to address such a heavy issue--without meeting with him in person. This is the first hole. Isn't the therapist doing THIS job?

    The second hole: at 65 years old I discovered that I was sexually abused by my father. A lot has been left out of the account of that "discovery". It may be that he found an 8 mm reel...the OP doesn't say. But if the only agent of discovery is his non-existent memory of the event(s), that's a pretty big hole. And it makes me doubt the therapist.

    The therapist--if there's no evidence--has to deal in likelihoods. Those likelihoods are opinions, and likely good ones. So here's the therapist's job: figure out the cause, begin to work on the solution. We cannot offer solutions here, which was what the OP was asking for.
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    Jan 20, 2011 11:29 PM GMT
    Reminds me of Albert in Miracle on 34th Street. He was told he didnt like his father. He said he never knew that.

    I think you dont like yourself cuz your fat and out of shape. You need to get back to the gym and work your ass off to build a you that you will like. And correct your diet.

    But it's easier to lie on a couch each week and talk.