"I Don't Feel Attractive In Any Way At All"

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The question jolted my screen, "What can I do? I don’t feel attractive in any way at all."

Question or empathic slug in the gut? I don't mean the questioner meant harm. The feelings that welled up while considering what a person who would pose this question might be enduring were that shocking.

First of all, you may not much like my response. Don't go away. Healing won't be easy, but everything you invest in it will be redeemed over and over as your new life appears.

I can't imagine someone so far from valuing her or himself not having survived significant childhood trauma. If this hunch is true in your case, I'm very sorry for all that hurt in your young life.

Such survivors who haven't been through a healing process will often quickly defend anyone who had a significant role in their upbringing, denying any hurt.

That you were hurt doesn't require that any of your caregivers was a wicked, undeserving person, though some may have been moderately, even severely, dysfunctional and unable to apply the emotional maturity to nurturing you that you deserved from them. To heal, you need not prove beyond reasonable doubt that someone abused you. In fact, many instances of child abuse may not even be eligible for trial.

Next, people that might ask such a question seem unlikely to have close friends—people whom one would trust enough to share a belief that they see themselves as utterly unattractive.

Such isolation need not be. Ending it is the point of departure for my suggestion for emerging. If you were hurt as a child, you are not alone. When you recognize that in your heart, you've made a big, courageous step.

Connect with Fellow Sufferers

There are many and widespread opportunities to meet with others who could benefit from your experience while sharing theirs with you. I'm not suggesting that you accost strangers asking whether they see themselves attractive or they were neglected as children. Safer, you can enter already-formed circles of people who have determined that solitary healing didn't work for them. I'll provide links to some possibilities at the end.

If you've never attended anonymous support groups, I'll offer some tips. Before you show up at a meeting, contact a member using listed information. If professional facilitators lead the group, it's helpful to speak to them one-on-one before attending. If the group is peer-led, you'll likely contact a member volunteer who has attended for some time and can answer questions and tell you what to expect of a meeting.

If the idea of sharing with a whole group of people is still too scary, you can ask your group informant for additional contacts and start to share on a one-to-one basis using phone, text, or in-person conversations.

Don't expect instant results, and don't give up just because your first encounter wasn't what you expected. Often judging a group's value takes six sessions.

Remember that other participants, even those who've taken leader roles, all have their own flaws and wounds. Your being willing to point out what doesn't seem appropriate to you contributes to the group staying effective at helping its members heal.

Don't give up if the first group or organization proves to be unsuited. Keep looking.

Get to Know Yourself Better

Another suggestion is to develop self-trust. People for whom there was no wholesome intervention after childhood trauma will likely believe it was their fault. Yet they had been helpless then. As a result of distorted views on what they survived then, such people as adults often are unwilling to see how they've contributed to unhappy situations in their present lives.

Even before connecting with a support group you might start an accountability journal. You don't have to share this with anyone. Consider events in your life, especially ones that heighten tensions, end with people angry or hurt. In your reflections, look at what you contributed to them. At first, you may see nothing.

Accept that maybe you contributed nothing hurtful. Accept that maybe you did but for now you're unwilling to admit it. What's likely to emerge as you become willing to see where you've contributed is that you have power to influence things you hadn't seen before.

With a growing awareness of your capabilities you may start to betray yourself less frequently. You'll begin to see yourself as trustworthy at least to yourself. Now that's something pretty basic to attractiveness. Someone with outstanding good looks and the costliest wardrobe in the world may be attractive on the outside. If they're not trustworthy beware all that glamour!

When your true attractiveness appears, you're much more likely to enter the circle of friends and prospective lovers who'll be loving and supportive if you've withstood this challenge. You've looked within to own the attractiveness that simply being yourself lends to you. I commend you on taking your first moves.

Directory of 12-Step and Other Mutual Support Groups

Codependents Anonymous

Adult Children of Alcoholics

Al-Anon

Know Before You Go: List of Articles About 12-Step Recovery Organizations on Wikipedia

 
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