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Bad self-image in spiu

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Old 12-18-2010, 12:47 AM   #1
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Default Bad self-image in spiu

Hello everyone,

This is my first post about this problem and I'm hoping to get some feedback, perhaps even some suggestions on how to overcome some of the issues I have been living with.

To put you into context, I am a 23 year old gay male who has suffered from long-term negative self-image issues from being overweight during my teenage years.

My highest weight was when I was a teenager. I weighed 320 lbs. Today, I weight 155 - 160 lbs, so I've lost over 160 lbs. Its been about 4 years since the weight loss.

For a while I was on top of the world and so proud of myself! But that didn't last very long...

As you can imagine, after losing all that weight, I now have generalized excess skin all over my body. I underwent an abdominal lipectomy about 5 months ago in order to tighten the skin on my abdomen, and unfortunately I suffered some serious complications that left me with a horrible scar on my abdomen.. Something that I have not yet been able to deal with unfortunately. Regardless, the scar will be revised this summer.

The problem I now face is excess skin pretty much everywhere else, which literally has me paralyzed with fear of being rejected sexually from my partners. It has gotten to the point that I do not even enjoy sex anymore for I spend the entire time obsessing about how my body looks to the person I am with. This will sound crazy, but I literally spend the time trying to move in a certain way or position myself in a way that will minimize the appearance of the loose skin on my body. It is so bad that recently I have been having erectile dysfunction, obviously due to psychological reasons.

I feel so ashamed of my body that I don't know what to do anymore! I don't even remember feeling this bad when I was overweight... The thing is, I am one of the lucky few who have lost this much weight and does not suffer from "hanging" skin. It is simply soft all over and lacks tension. It's hard to explain... I suppose my skin was fortunately elastic enough to recover partially, but my butt, thighs and chest literally disgust me sometimes, and I know that they aren't THAT bad... The worst part of all is that when I was 320 lbs, I dreamt of having the body I now have.. literally dreamt of it! And now I have it, yet it is nowhere near good enough! I also had no idea I would have to deal with excess skin.. It seems horribly unfair and sometimes causes me to be depressed...

I've considered the possibility that I may suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, but have concluded that it is not the case since the problems I note on my body do exist and have a known cause. I simply obsess over them to the point that it prevents me from having a stable relationship and enjoying sexual relations. Obviously, this is due to bad experiences in my past...

The worse thing is that I think I may be suffering from an eating disorder on top of all this...

I have approached a therapist today by email and am waiting for a response, but in the mean time does anybody have any suggestions to help calm this stress ? It would be so nice to hear from someone who is going through something similar...

I just want to note however, that in spite of all my venting on here, I still have a generally happy life with long-term study/career goals, friends, family. Plenty of amazing things are going on in my life, the problem is I can't seem to let go of the negative feelings I have toward myself enough to actually enjoy how lucky I am... Does anybody understand what I'm going though ?

Thanks for listening.

Terry
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:53 AM   #2
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Being that I used to have an eating disorder, i sometimes catch myself picking at my flaws, then i remind myself im on the right track.
Have you been weight training? I have heard that weight training helps loose skin, dont feel bad about your weight, you already accomplished the hardest part, you will be fine
Also, if a person is into you, they are not looking at your flaws the way you are. When we judge ourselves in that manner, we are our own worst enemy, Think about it, would you ever pick apart at somebody the way you would yourself? You need to give yourself a break, and be good to yourself.
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Old 12-18-2010, 03:16 AM   #3
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After all the hard work you've done and all that you've endured to lose the weight, you deserve more kindness from yourself than what you're giving you.

Every man I've ever met that I've talked about the subject with has said the same thing to me: what runs through their minds when they see a partner in the altogether is never, "ew ew ew, look at those fat thighs/that saggy skin/that weirdly-shaped toe," but "OMG, I am naked with someone! YAY!" Other people see not our flaws, but us.

I've lived in a slim body and a fat body, a younger one and now a fortyish one (which still feels pretty young to me, actually). I regret that there were ever times that I let my feelings of fear or shame stop me from doing something I wanted to do. I'd have way better memories of my misspent youth now if I'd had more confidence (and not just in the bedroom).

You have a phenomenal opportunity right now, while you're in your early twenties and have freed yourself of so much weight, to let yourself be "good enough." There are a lot of different ways to reach that place of good-enough. Maybe it'll take a little therapy, maybe you can do it by yourself by taking a long look in the mirror and replacing all the self-deprecating, negative thoughts with positives, maybe it'll just take some time to get used to the major changes your body's been through. But you definitely deserve to get there.

I second Transporter's exercise recommendation, if you aren't already weight training. Exercise in general helps you focus more on what your body can do, not just on what it looks like--and what you can do is way more important than how you look. Beautiful, but static bodies are for photoshopped magazine spreads; living ones sometimes take a weirdly unflattering angle or have extra fat or wrinkle or sag, but they are infinitely more interesting to get to know.

As for scars, they're just proof that you've lived through something traumatic long enough to heal from it. Any partner worth his salt sees a scar and is grateful that the beloved person bearing it trusted him enough to let down all defenses. It sounds a little weird, maybe, but...I like knowing how my husband got the mars and scratches he's gotten on his way to 43. They make him unique, they make him him.

I wish you luck; I think it's a problem we all struggle with at some point, no matter how gorgeous we may sometimes feel.
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Old 12-18-2010, 06:26 AM   #4
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Hi Terry - Congrats for getting it together to describe your situation so clearly. And, by the by, on the occasion of your first post,

And Monster Congratulations on your weight loss and subsequent maintenance. You're in a small group to have achieved that and deserve to feel just amazingly proud of that accomplishment. The more you give yourself credit for your success, the more you might be able to let go of beating yourself up for having a past that now leads you to today's body.

There are others around here with issues about their skin. If you haven't already found it, check out the 3FC Forum on Body Issues after Weight Loss.

My only suggestion is to tell a potential partner that you've got body issues since you've lost weight, that they aren't about to rendezvous with an Atlas. If they want to go forward after that, then try to accept that as their acceptance of you and just enjoy the ride. ED is in the head, as you obviously know, and you can wiggle your own neurons by repeatedly reminding yourself that you've marched a unique and remarkable journey.

I hope you continue to post; you will find that there are a bunch of us guys on 3FC scattered around and about.
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