I know I’m stating the obvious, but being sexually abused really messes up your sense of self. Women who have been molested tend to become highly sexualized at a young age. They abuse their own bodies through cutting, eating disorders, or substances. Men aren’t really that different, either. I think the way that we choose to abuse our bodies is just different than the way women do.
For myself, I would occasionally self-harm by cutting the insides of my arms. I also went through about a year in high school where I just didn’t eat much, I worked on school work all the time, and did little self-care at all. I lost about 25 pounds and it was noticeable. Also, I have a huge desire to keep working in the gym so that I can fool myself into thinking that I’m tougher than I really am. Additionally, thoughts of suicide have plagued me for years, coming in spurts and at times being more serious than other times.
The way that I view my own body is probably the most affected, though. I can hardly stand to look at myself most of the time. I’ve mentioned before that I avoid mirrors at the gym and in my own home. I can’t stand pictures taken of me, and I avoid videos of myself as much as possible. I even hate hearing the sound of my own voice, which is ironic since I’m a high school teacher. I was even looking at myself today, after consistently working out at the gym this week, and still was horrified at what I saw in the mirror.
And this self-esteem thing is so weird for me to try to express to others. On the one hand, I obsess (ok, maybe that’s a strong word) about my physical appearance and presence among others because I want to fit in and be normal. On the other hand, I can’t stand myself so much that I want to change the way I look so that people will recognize the improvements I’m making. Yet, I can’t ever seem to improve enough for myself, and I can’t ever seem to fit in and be normal either. At times, it feels pretty hopeless.