Sunday, 20 November 2011

Laura's Lament - How to Improve Damaged Self Esteem

Dear Babs

I am 26 and I separated from my boyfriend earlier this year. We met at school and frankly it was always a volatile relationship. He bought a house and I moved in with him against my better judgement and it didn't take too long before he was trying to control my every move. I may sound contradictory when I say he is a nice man it's just that his way of being a partner was to tell me how shit I was at everything. It took time but gradually he stripped me of all my confidence. I am content with my decision but the experience has left its mark and I find it difficult to have another relationship. Men are attracted to me but I act sarky and give them short shrift. I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to have another relationship? I feel as if I should just get over it but it's not easy.

Dear Laura 

I am so sorry you feel unhappy.  I really feel in your case that finding a good counsellor, if you can afford it, would be the best option.  I think understanding what made you move in with your boyfriend 'against your better judgement' is the crucial bit? But please don't castigate yourself for the decision. This man has clearly hurt you but if you continue to punish yourself by responding in the way you are then you are continuing his mission. Interestingly you appear to have started to forgive him 'he is a nice man' but not yourself which is in my opinion crucial in moving on. 

When relationships end it always takes time to heal and in terms of healing perhaps 'earlier in the year' is a blinking on an eye. I know it may not feel it to you? You don't make mention of the rest of your life, if you have the support of friends, if you feel fulfilled at work etc all of which enter the pot of how we feel about ourselves.

Much has been written about improving self esteem (I particularly like Gael Lindenfield's Self Esteem Bible) and all of the strategies work. I think the place to start is by looking in your mirror and saying 'I am worth it' and do you know Laura you are!


  1. Of course you're worth it - if you weren't you wouldn't be calling for help. A controlling relationship is one of the most destructive types there is. We all fall for the nice guy - but it's only when you move in that you can realise what's happening - you got out good for you. You've made a start.
    What you must realise is that some people can only make themselves good by putting others down, it's going to make you feel unsure for a while; but don't let it be permanent - Babs says get some counselling - I did and now I don't care what people think of me and I've made loads of friends.
    I'm a lot older than you and because of health problems I'm not interested in a relationship - but I can rely on friends for help if ever I need it.
    You are you, you are unique and special, no one can take that away from you, enjoy your life with your head held high and be just you. x

  2. Babs, as always you give wonderful insightful advice. Laura, please take the advice being offered. You are special and need to discover the incredible person you are!