How to deal with this?
January 21, 2010 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to even hope that someone would not be repulsed?

I used to be THAT girl. Yeah, the fat girl that got smashed and slept around with whoever would give her attention. I had no self esteem whatsoever and I acknowledge that I have a problem with alcohol.I feel like if I ever did meet anyone that I would love, they would be disgusted by my past. I am still disgusted by it and tend to avoid people and just stay to myself most of the time. I know I need to forgive myself and move on but HOW? I think I have ruined any chance of trusting anyone(believing they would really love me) and that I have perhaps ruined my ability to love anyone. Has anyone gone through a similar experience? How did you deal with it? I feel so alone.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The past is the past, the only thing that matters is who you are in this present moment.
posted by satori_movement at 11:56 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, a loving good man will understand
posted by bananafish at 11:57 AM on January 21, 2010

You deserve love and you can find it.

I wasn't THAT fat girl -- I was a different kind of fat girl that had a drinking problem -- one where I went home after work every night and drank until I ran out of booze or passed out. I managed to quit drinking on my own...for a while... but something bad would happen and I would say f*** it and start drinking again.

Over a decade ago, I decided that while I could stop drinking on my own, I couldn't stay stopped without the help of others. I went to AA. I have now been sober over 10 years.

One of my favorite parts of an AA meeting is where they read "the promises":
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

I suggest you give AA a try. If you don't like the first meeting, get a schedule and try some other meetings -- different groups have different feelings. You are not alone. There are many others who have been through the same or similar experiences and who are different people today as a result of working the 12 step program.
posted by elmay at 12:07 PM on January 21, 2010

Everyone deserves love. You deserve love. It's OK. Try one little bit at a time to be kind to yourself. Notice when you're telling yourself mean things and just ... lay off. Just for a minute. Then do it again. Everything gets easier with practice. You don't have to get over everything at once.

You can bloom, yes, you can. I'm sorry you feel so very down right now. Just know it IS possible.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:07 PM on January 21, 2010

"If he can't handle my past, he's not worthy of my future." I don't remember who said this, but truer words have never been spoken.

I would also suggest seeing a therapist to work on your trust problems, if possible. I have the "no one could ever really love me" syndrome and it's best to work on that as much as possible before that special someone comes along.
posted by biochemist at 12:08 PM on January 21, 2010

as a veteran of havng been THAT GUY i can assure you that after not being THAT GUY for a while your history of THAT GUYness will recede to the point that people meeting you in the present will be surprised to hear about your past. the whole of the deal is to point your intent forward and think about how you can make future you more excellent instead of thinking about how past you was crappy. accept your past as a thing, don't attach moral judgments to it, try to avoid the situations that you engaged in that make you feel crappy, ADAPT AND OVERCOME.
posted by beefetish at 12:14 PM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Of course it's possible, there's nothing about sleeping with lots of people for bad reasons that makes it more repulsive than any other attention-seeking motivated by low self-esteem (that is, it's not repulsive at all, just indicative that the person in question has some work to do before they're going to be fully available as a partner in a relationship.) Take care, however, not to become THAT person who makes self-hating statements online just to be bolstered by a flood of reflexive praise and reassurance from strangers.
posted by contraption at 12:15 PM on January 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

Can a guy see past that? Speaking as a guy - of course. But most of the guys I know well enough to talk to about this kind of thing probably wouldn't want to know much about it other than it's in the past and you've got a (reasonably) clean bill of health. Frankly, I find I'm a lot leerier about people without much of a "past" than I am people with one - but that may indicate moe about me than anything else.

But the odds of someone seeing past your history to who you are now, today, will increase exponentially if you do that yourself first. It sounds like you've got some work in that area, and therapy is probably a great place to start.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:21 PM on January 21, 2010

Therapy is a good idea.

People are generally more interested in who you are than who you were, assuming that you weren't an axe murderer.

Also, *hug*.
posted by NoraReed at 12:24 PM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Just so you know.... I used to date a woman that I cared about immensely and at one point in our relationship she broke down and told me quite a bit about her past that she had kept from me. Things along the lines of the issues you are worried about. I knew who she was with me, how she was with my friends and family, how she cared about me... who she was before didn't matter to me. I wasn't dating the her from years ago, I was dating present her. Once she understood that you could see the weight lift from her shoulders. She had a couple habits that were hold-overs from those earlier times--drinking in excess being the biggest--and she worked through them with my help and support. We're no longer together, but our separation had nothing to do with her past.

Learn from the past as best you can without being trapped by it. Be the person you want and need to be. Find the guy that loves that person. Love that guy back. The overwhelming nature of things can be a lot to deal with... find the hole in that wall and break through. Everything can and will be alright.
posted by Gainesvillain at 12:34 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, sweetie, it's ok. You are going to be ok.

To begin with, just take care of yourself. You gotta love yourself first - such a hard and unappealing thing sometimes! - before you can really do a good job in a relationship. And by that I don't mean "being a good girlfriend to some dude," I mean "being someone who is able to be loved by others."

N-thing go to therapy, where a kind and well-trained person will help you get started on this. When I started going, my therapist said something that will always stick with me: "Until you are strong enough to do this on your own, you can borrow my strength for a while."

So borrow someone's strength for a while until you are strong enough to really love yourself. It is easier than you think and feels really, really kick-ass.

The character I got my user name from, Harper Pitt in Angels of America, sums it up thusly:

"Nothing's lost forever. In this world, there's a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we've left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that's so."
posted by harperpitt at 12:36 PM on January 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

memail me.
posted by desjardins at 12:40 PM on January 21, 2010

Everyone who survives far enough into adulthood is going to have "a past." Everyone has done things that they are not proud of, but the best part of life is that you can always change your path. As you get older, you'll find that there is a certain amount of "don't ask, don't tell" when it comes to meeting new people. Share with them what you wish, you don't need to operate of full disclosure, even with those you love.

Imagine for a moment that you didn't write this Ask me - what would you tell the poster based upon your own experiences? Have the same compassion for yourself that you would have for others.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:41 PM on January 21, 2010

I guess an important point that I didn't stress in my earlier response needs to made as well. Her past didn't prevent me from loving her in the first place. It was part of her and had an impact on the person she was for sure... but she was still easily lovable.

Despite your doubts, so too are you.
posted by Gainesvillain at 12:43 PM on January 21, 2010

Such feelings as yours are not unknown to me, although my situation was different. My experience tells me that before you go any further, you have to start trying to put the "disgust" issue to bed. You have to get started must get past this disgust for yourself, and you must learn to not project that disgust onto other people's behavior.

If you want to be accepted and have decent relationships, you'll have to dispense with the self-disgust, and you'll have to dispense with the notion that people can have "pasts" that permanently taint them. This idea is insidious and will ruin your ability to accept others, as well as screwing with your own self-image.

It takes time and lots of effort to successfully deal with these kinds of issues. However, it must be done. An undercurrent of disgust is not the kind of thing you want to have running through your life and relationships with others.
posted by Coatlicue at 12:59 PM on January 21, 2010

Your post is sort of all over the place. You ask a question, but your insecurities go a lot deeper than what your question poses.

But to answer the main question:
Frankly, I find I'm a lot leerier about people without much of a "past" than I am people with one

I agree 100% with this. I expect adults to have a past. I expect women I date to have done things that they're not proud of, just as I have -- that's how you grow.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:03 PM on January 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Everyone has done things that they are not proud of

This is absolutely true. And, moreover, when a former THAT PERSON is in a healthy, loving relationship, their partner doesn't look at their past with disgust: the partner looks at the current life they share and thinks "if only I could have loved and supported you back then."
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:09 PM on January 21, 2010 [21 favorites]

Yes, of course you can find love. Love isn't a purity test, it's about compatibility and chemistry. Boys (or girls) aren't a judge you have to present your case before, they aren't better than you and you don't have to seek forgiveness or acceptance. Other people aren't qualified to judge you - don't ask or invite them to.

What I think you're doing here is catastrophising, which is probably happening because you still have issues with self esteem, depression and alcohol. Whether you can work on them on your own, or get professional help, you need to tackle the thought processes that are making you feel like this - they're what will hold you back from having a healthy relationship, not your past or your weight.
posted by crabintheocean at 1:18 PM on January 21, 2010

Without going into much detail, there are big parts of my past that I shudder to recall, as you clearly shudder to recall this. On any given day I can recall horrible sexual mistakes, idiotic phone calls made while drunk, moments of evangelistic belief in some stray principle that led me down some dark path of making an absolutely huge deal about nothing and embarrassing everyone around me, fights I had with my ex-husband that the neighbors heard. The time at fourteen I took a defiant stand against my parents for my right to wear a beret. Oh Jesus.

Fortunately I still have someone who loves me. People that love you don’t make you suffer for your past. They know that’s what it took to get to the person they love. Without it, we’d all be someone else.

As far as your specific situation, and your feelings of being ‘that girl’ – you carry a visceral response to the idea of ‘that girl’ because that is your particular pain. I don’t think what you’re describing, a fat girl who feels bad about herself and sleeps with guys she shouldn’t because she desperately wants to feel a little better, is horrible. I don’t find it repulsive, I don’t find it pitiable.

Frankly, it’s a pretty understandable reaction to feeling sexually unattractive. I’m mean, how better to prove yourself wrong? I’m not saying it’s the healthiest course of action, but it is understandable, which you seem to be missing.

I find it sad, and I’m happy you’re feeling better, but on the big scale of shame sleeping around to feel better about yourself – well, an awful lot of people have slept with people in order to feel better about themselves. and I hope you can get some perspective on this. You think you can’t love anyone because you can’t stand yourself, and you can’t stand yourself because you haven’t forgiven yourself.

Give yourself permission to move on. Brand new day.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:21 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lots of people sleep around, lots of people are comfortable with the idea of people who may have plenty of sexual experience.

Lots of people have spent their youth getting smashed and making stupid decisions, and nobody faults them for it, once they grow up, start paying off their debts and stop throwing up in bushes.

Lots of people are fat; many guys like a more rounded lady, or even prefer that shape.

Your worries are founded more in your own lack of self-belief than in a realistic assessment of what other people might think. It's your own self-disgust coming out that makes you think other people might be disgusted.

Funnily, as other people have said, what will put people off is this very self-disgust. If YOU don't like yourself, other people will find it more difficult to like you. The way to move on may be through being the awesome person that you would like to be. Think of something you enjoy or you're really good at, and go and sign up for a class or get practicing and find some way to ROCK. If there are things you struggle at, set yourself some small targets and see if you can improve. Do something new or different: get a little bit out of your comfort zone. Treat yourself well even if you don't like yourself. Even if you don't believe that you deserve a happy time or some nice clothes or some time to yourself to read a trashy novel.... treat yourself, because you do deserve those things. Buy yourself some flowers!
posted by emilyw at 1:43 PM on January 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't really care, but I would care if the girl in question hadn't moved on emotionally. I think if you see a therapist it will really help. You're not alone, at all, in having dabbled in some dark experiences. In fact, I might kind of see this as a plus. I tend to like people who've been through life's wringer in one way or another.
posted by xammerboy at 2:05 PM on January 21, 2010

I know someone who was 'that girl', who describes her experience in very similar ways to you. She met a man she liked and was worried that he would judge her on her reputation.

He didn't. They've now been happily married for more than thirty years.

Your biggest hurdle is learning to love yourself, not your reputation. That's the thing that will turn things around - not necessarily that a long-term relationship will suddenly appear, but if one doesn't you'll feel confident on your own. People turn that corner in many, many ways - anything from finding a vocation in life, to therapy, to meditation, to self-help books and so on.
posted by Coobeastie at 3:03 PM on January 21, 2010

I hope it won't seem too flip or cheesy if I recommend that you watch this. Seriously, I think that scene is applicable to your question, and to the answers you've received here.
posted by Asparagirl at 3:30 PM on January 21, 2010

Lots of people drink too much and slut it up when they're young. I think you must be from a relatively conservative area/family to think that this is such a big deal?

What's important is who you choose to be today and tomorrow.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:02 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've had lotsa sloppy sex with a bunch of people? Cool. Teach me something new.

Why any man would give a damn about that is beyond me. Plenty don't. Really. You haven't ruined anything. You might be confusing sex with intimacy. You might have trust issues. You might regret the past. But nothing is ruined. The past is the past. Let it stay there.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:20 PM on January 21, 2010

You know what kind of past is disgusting? One where you've maliciously caused harm to other people, without regret.

You know what is not disgusting? Having low self esteem as a young person, and working those issues out in bed and in bottle.

There are far, far worse things done by people who still love themselves and are loved. Be kind to yourself, and you will get past this with OR without a partner.
posted by Pomo at 8:42 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Anonymous, memail me.
posted by Cuppatea at 11:35 PM on January 21, 2010

You don't have to be proud of something to accept it as part of your past. You made some mistakes coping with difficult situations. Everyone has. It's no use to let past mistakes - which hurt no one but you - define your future.

Love doesn't demand perfection; love accepts flaws.
posted by 26.2 at 12:26 AM on January 23, 2010

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