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How Can I Change My Life?

Question:

I am a 34 yr. old female, educated, good job, homeowner, people say I am very attractive, but have trouble with relationships, i.e., I can’t seem to hold on to one. Anytime I start seeing a man I am attracted to, he always ends up leaving, and I am left feeling rejected and not good enough. I know I have a problem with self-esteem-my father and stepmother constantly told me as a child that I was ugly, stupid, and that I would never make it in life. I have consistently been abandoned. My mom died when I was 13, and my parents were already divorced. My dad left years before she died (they were both remarried). I think I have just been reliving my dad leaving and rejecting me through the relationships I have had with men. I am getting too old, I want to have a healthy relationship. People say "You need to get some self-esteem, learn to love yourself before you can have a relationship." My question is, how do you get self-esteem if you never learned it as a child? Is it too late? I am also suffering from a severe eating disorder that I have had since the age of 12, which definitely makes me feel even worse about myself. As I get older, I find myself getting more depressed about life in general. Please help.

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Answer:

First, a person is never too old to make positive changes her life. Second, at the age of 34 you most certainly are not too old. In fact, you are quite young and have every reason to feel optimistic. This month it is my birthday and I am about to celebrate my 65th year. I continue to learn, grow and change and refuse to allow life’s "slings and arrows" to stop me. You need to adopt similar thinking but I will say more about that further on.

You may not realize it but you were abused as a child. The fact that your parents called you "ugly and stupid" is proof of that abuse. A child need not have physical scars from being hit to know that they have been abused. Verbal abuse is equally harmful to the physical type and I suggest you read the featured article on the topic of verbal abuse. Words harm us just as much as "sticks and stones." People who were abused as children do suffer from depression and low self esteem but that can be reversed.

I am guessing that your severe eating disorder is binge eating or severely over-eating and that you carry a lot of weight that adds to your low self esteem.

What to do about your problems:

First, I want to urge you to enter psychotherapy with both a psychiatrist to provide medication and a psychotherapist (psychiatrists are often too expensive for people to say on a weekly basis for psychotherapy). For you the correct medications will serve two purposes: 1) Anti depressant medications will help relieve the awful feelings you suffer each day, 2) There are some medications that could possibly help you control your eating habits.

The type of therapy that would be helpful for you is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help you examine the unrealistic and untrue ways you think about your self. That process will help you build your self esteem.

Also, I want to suggest a well known self help organization for those with weight problems called Over Eaters Anonymous. They follow the twelve step process of Alcoholics Anonymous and they have helped many people. In addition to that I want to suggest that you join and go to Weight Watchers. They have an excellent and realistic weight loss program that has also help countless numbers of people across the nation.

Finally, it is important that you get a medical health check up with your family doctor and, while there, ask your MD about beginning a realistic exercise program.

Exercise will help you in two ways. It will allow you to begin burning energy and that will help you to gradually lose weight. Second, exercise will improve both your mood and self esteem.

No one can do any of this for you. It is up to you. It is time to stop living the life your parents planned for you and to start living the life you want for your self. As your mood, weight and thinking gradually change you will be able to enter into more satisfying relationships. Therapy will also help you with that process.

Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher said that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." Take that first step now.

Good Luck in your journey ahead.

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