Self Esteem Issues and Can’t Find Ways to be Happy

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Hi! I don’t know if you can help me or not or if I’m even at the right place… .. I am NOT looking for pity, but I guess in a way I do make myself look pathetic -_- . I don’t normally put my business out there but I feel in order to better understand what I’m going through and this is anonymous it’s better if I told you. I noticed lately I have been having A LOT of issues.. I am not sure if it’s depression, anxiety, anger and resentment or what but I noticed that it is holding me back from the mom and future wife that eventually I want to be. I am 23 years old and my fiancé and I have been engaged for 5 years (going out for 6). I am the type of person that thinks A LOT and tries to figure things out on my own and when I do I ask myself WHY it’s like that and what can I do to improve. In other words I guess you could say I have ” ways to self better” convos with myself.

When I turned 20 we decided to start our family. I found out at 6 months that my fiancé had been sleeping around when I went on vacation to see my aunt in another state but this wasn’t the usual scenarios. He had been with men instead of women and had been posting ads all over Craigslist. I didn’t know how to feel about that but cheating is still cheating so I kicked him out and his sister begged me to give him another chance for our son. I thought about it long and hard and decided “I want my baby’s dad in my son’s life and in a relationship you should always work out your problems. Maybe something I did led to his decision or maybe he was stressed out. Usually after someone gets caught they realize their mistake” and I agreed to work things out with him because he looked very regretful to the point of tears. I often wish I refused, maybe I wouldn’t be like this today. I keep thinking in the past when I had a job and I didn’t need anybody but me.

I later on had to quit my job due to a terrible pregnancy and he was the only one working and I found out at 8 months (3-4 weeks before delivery date) he did it again!! Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. This time I was really
angry and I tried to leave but I had no job so no money, no car of my own and no one I could depend on that would help me. I called shelters it was first come first served how was I going to haul myself over there when I even had no money and I didn’t have a spot guaranteed?? I asked my sister for help and she told me I got myself in this mess to figure it out so I was stuck with him and a few other awful incidents happened (one that I have to live with the rest of my life is a broken finger when he slammed the door when he was angry and my finger got caught accidentally and nearly got amputated. Now it’s just awfully deformed but I keep telling myself at least it’s not a leg others have it worse.. I try to look on the bright side). I actually did leave him, a close friend of mine helped me out but she was living with her parents and I was told by her dad if I wanted to stay at the place my baby had to go and of course that was not an option for me so I was once again forced back with him. He feels awfully guilty about it till this day and has since worked on his temper also but I’m still really angry. Nobody should have to get hurt physically because of anybody.

Fast forward 4-5 years later it took a LONG time to get to the place we are both at now and the relationship is almost perfect and he manned up so much except for one thing- I’m not happy
anymore. I am emotionally and physically exhausted. I am tired after trying so hard for 5 years and now that he finally decided to change I feel like it’s a little too late, there’s nothing there I feel empty. Everyday I wake up and immediately I want to get back in bed, it’s rare nowadays that I wake up cheerfully. I try to be so optimistic but a little voice in my head laughs and says “haha nope not happening!”. My fiancé thinks that everything is okay and doesn’t understand why I act this way and I tried to explain to him but he thinks it’s all in my head and that I am over dramatic. I feel really lonely but I’m afraid of being alone now and when I look at him I feel like we’re drifting apart and I also have NO confidence in myself at all whatsoever anymore since he’s cheated on me more than once. It was devastating for me because I was one hundred percent truly in love and now I feel… Numb of all loving emotions towards him. I have 2 beautiful babies now and they are my whole world and I love them so much but I feel like I’m not the mother that they deserve. I noticed lately though that I think I do have a lot of resentment buried deep under the layers from the past and I can’t get rid of it. I try to look at everything with a happy outlook of life and I can’t really talk to anyone about my issues and it feels like I will explode! I’m not sure if it’s depression or anger maybe anxiety but it feels like the whole world is on my shoulders and just weighing me down and everyday I’m sitting on the couch and I’m too mentally tired to even play with my kids. It feels like something is holding me back maybe an example would be shackled by invisible chains? I also lately started getting panic attacks. It isn’t professionally diagnosed but I know I have it along with all the symptoms but lately I haven’t gotten one in a long while except for one in all of 3-4 months? At first I thought that I was just lazy but that doesn’t seem right to me because I have ALWAYS been happy and excited to go out into the world. Now I’m just sheltered and I hate talking to everyone. I’m a lone wolf. You literally have to drag me out of my own home!! Maybe that’s just a part of being an adult no one ever told me about? I spoke to my sister she said it sounded like depression. What can I do to get rid of this awful feeling? And without medication?

Here is another big problem for me- growing up I was really sheltered and abused mentally verbally and physically my whole life. I was literally under lock and key and could only go out to go to school and back and wasn’t allowed to hang out with any friends or talk to them on the phone or my mother would get really angry- she was a really jealous person. I wasn’t even allowed to talk to my father or I would be accused of doing something with him which is just plain disgusting!! I am 23 years old but I feel like I’m terrified to break out of my cocoon and be an adult. When I turned 18 I left and I never looked back and I was so happy to be free and do whatever I wanted! But then when I met my fiancé and he did that the 2nd time to me maybe I felt so stuck that I just swallowed myself down. I used to be really talkative and cheerful and super independent! Anyone that I would meet I could put a smile on their face. Now 5-6 years later I can barely speak to anyone and when I do I stutter and become really really shy, it has gotten so bad that I think I need speech therapy. Is it called being socially impaired? It feels like my tongue is fat and my lips also, it’s hard to talk. I’m scared to go ANYWHERE by self. These negative thoughts don’t stop and my fiancé gets upset with me because we don’t currently have a car so he has to walk me everywhere. But also in reality the world is a dangerous place too. I honestly feel the way that my parents raised me didn’t prepare me at ALL to become an adult. I fact I feel they did a horrible job. They kept me alive for 18 years by locking me up but I’m afraid of the world. I am also afraid now of commitment and marriage. of course I know that not all men are the same but in my mind I feel “Who would want you? You weren’t even good enough for your fiancé he easily cheated on you”. But now that I am older and I have my own little princess I realize no one will respect or love you until you love yourself and I want to love myself!!!

I also don’t trust anyone but myself. My fiancé wanted to do a trust exercise and made me fall back into his arms the other day and I just couldn’t do it and I know why. He was really upset because he fell into mine easily and I explained to him he had broken my trust, whereas I had never once been unfaithful or done anything to hurt him despite the fact he literally dragged me to hell and back these past 6 years. My trust is completely shattered in everyone. In my eyes everyone is out just to get me. I have helped my fiancé’s family and friends numerous times when they had no where to live (I try to believe the best in people and I understood what it was like to have no where to stay) and they all just took complete advantage of me and walked all over me, and don’t have any respect for me at all and just take me for an immature fool. They feel that he’s the one working why should the have to listen to me when they are his family? In their eyes I only come last because family is always first and I am not their blood related. His family knows what he did to me and they make fun of me for it and tell me what he did was no big deal, it’s very hurtful, his dad has even tried introducing girls to him in front of me when our son was 3 months old. It makes me SO upset because when my fiancé and I first met he was living with his dad and I was paying over $2000/ month in rent for them when I didn’t live with them at all and his sister always asked me for help to pay all her bills and even rent for her sometimes when she needed help. I did it all from the goodness of my heart because when I was 18 I believed the good in people and I believe in “paying it forward” and never once asked them for the money back so no I don’t understand what I did to them. According to his family they don’t like me because I called him a butthole (but in profanity version) when he had cheated on me but excuse me he had given me an STD (it was curable thank goodness) that was the LEAST he deserved in my opinion!

But of course it wasn’t their fault that I am like this. I just care too much what people think of me and I tried not to care but it’s just the way I am and have always been. I am easy to walk all over and I can’t seem to grow a backbone no matter how hard I try. I think when I turned 18 I was finally free and I was just an easy target to be taken advantage of because I was never taught to have self respect but just didn’t realize it back then like I do now.

I don’t want to be like this anymore. I want to improve myself for the better so I can be the best that I can be for my kids. I look at my precious babies every day and I wonder how can parents treat their little angels so cruelly?? I have been working on myself every single day to try to be a better person but some days are more rough than others. He (my fiancé) never let me go to therapy because he was too embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to know what he had done so all these years I have been learning to cope with it all myself. Lately though I finally mastered a stage, which I am really proud of!! I went from thinking “it’s all my fault” like he had tried to convince me when he was caught and I hated myself everyday to realizing “It was not me but him I can do better” and little by little I got a tiny bit of confidence back which felt nice and I guess he loved that confident part of me and worked on himself even harder. He says he loves me but all my love that I had for him is buried and I don’t know if it’s possible to revive. I am awfully proud of the man and father he has become but can trust ever be regained?? I really do want to fall back in love with him like I used to and not just love him.

I want to be independent and happy everyday like I used to be and I took a step forward by re-entering church. But every time I try to do something my mind starts panicking and 30min to 1 hour goes by and I’m still at the same spot like my brain is in overload. I am also scared of failure. I am currently a stay at home mommy but I’m afraid when I go to back to work I can’t succeed and I will fail and if something ever did happen I won’t be able to make it on my own. Please please please give me some advice on how I can take better control of all these emotions. I tried writing a list they help me for my goals but not for my confidence and depression or whatever this is. The one reason I tried so hard all these years is so our kids can have a complete family instead of having to go back and forth. I don’t want to live in fear my whole life! I’m sorry for this super long letter!!

Regards, Miss. Desperate

A: Thank you for your heartfelt letter. I am sorry you have been feeling this way and have an idea that may help.

The city you say you are from has a woman’s shelter. I encourage you to call them and use the services they have for counseling. In particular, I would find a way to begin both individual and group counseling. The therapists who work there are highly trained and are used to working with people who have had backgrounds similar to yours. You need support. You need support from people who understand your history and your feelings. The woman’s center in your city is the right place to begin.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Jun 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Self Esteem Issues and Can’t Find Ways to be Happy. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/06/10/self-esteem-issues-and-cant-find-ways-to-be-happy/