I was in a serious relationship for over a decade, and my partner cheated on me. Following a grueling breakup, I gained almost 100 pounds and committed myself to an inpatient mental hospital, then outpatient for over a year. I haven’t been to my personal psychologist in about a year, though I still check in with my primary care physician.
Since my time in the hospital, I’ve lost nearly 80 pounds and am very close to my ideal weight. I am engaged to my best friend, and we have a wonderful relationship. He always compliments me and is very understanding of my feelings.
I feel like I’ve done everything I should be doing, and I still can’t bring myself to look in a mirror or take photos. I just want to be satisfied with my own face and in my own skin. I don’t know how to overcome the thought that I’ll always be someone to cheat on.
I’d really appreciate your thoughts.
Shattered: I see your issue as occurring across two tracks. First of all, the visage you should want to avoid is the rat who cheated on you. Instead, you have assumed personal responsibility for the wrong that was done to you and have turned the anger onto yourself.
A person who has been cheated on will often feel unworthy. But the process of recovering will be to transfer your harsher feelings away from yourself, and — if those feelings need to go somewhere — point your anger toward the unethical person who wronged you.
You might also be experiencing body dysmorphic disorder. This is a condition where you have an intense and extremely distorted idea of what your body looks like. A glimpse of your reflection while passing near a window might reveal a grossly inaccurate view of your body and face. This is a treatable condition.
I urge you to return to the psychologist who treated you previously to discuss these feelings, so that you might continue to work toward your recovery. I commend your efforts toward positive self-care and note the impressive progress you’ve made. Keep going — you’ll get there.
Dear Amy: My friend’s husband died six years ago. In the first few years she would send cards for occasions with a picture of herself and her late husband. I thought that she was still in mourning.
Now it’s been six years and to be honest I find it quite nauseating to receive a Christmas card from her and her late husband with pictures of the two of them. She has obviously not gotten over his passing.
As a friend I feel like saying something, but I don’t know how to phrase it. Is there something in writing that I can pass along without being cruel?
Perplexed: No. There is no non-cruel way to say, “I am nauseated looking at photos of you and your late husband, so it’s time to get over his death.” One thing you can do is to work on the way you perceive this.
There’s grief, and there’s celebration. These photos of the two of them might be seen as a celebration of their relationship.
You don’t say how close you two are, but I hope that during non-holiday times you will do your best to check in with your friend more often. Give her a call. This would be a better way to gauge how she is doing. You will learn more in a conversation than you would by exchanging occasional cards.
Dear Amy: No, no, no! Like “Big Tipper,” I believe that American consumers are so tired of being forced to “tip” for takeout! I could not believe that you suggested we go along with this scam.
Upset: I suggested that this extra charge could be considered a “service fee.” I do agree that the whole experience is upside down: Restaurant workers are underpaid, and consumers are expected to foot the bill.
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