Not worthy – becoming socially recluse

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    Growing up I was the eldest daughter of a rather insensitive, critical family. My shyness and lack of confidence was heavily scrutinised by mother whose energy was predominantly demanded by my younger, attention seeking sister. Along with this, I was continually ridiculed by my dad and sister for my physical flaws – big ears, big nose, pasty skin etc

    As I grew up, my confidence was consistently low. I was scared of everything and everyone. I still am, even at 30.

    As an adult, i have been totally preoccupied by body image and have been diagnosed with BDD (Body Dismorphic Disorder) and depression. I’ve had 2 cosmetic treatments, both of which left disappointing results. I hold a bitterness towards women who are blessed with beauty – something i really want to change. I feel inferior to these people.

    This lack of self worth has led me through over 15 disastrous relationships and 30+ sexual partners – something I am incredibly ashamed of. I wish I could erase this past!

    In General, a low sense of self worth left me too scared to be me….I don’t actually know who that is! even at 30. I was just desperate for acceptance and to be “popular” and “pretty”. I thought this was the key to happiness, even at the cost of my health – taking drugs and drinking heavily (something I am finally trying to curb with counselling).

    I’ve spent years desperate for the acceptance of friends (that I thought I had), only to realise that I’m not sure if any are truly friends, and mores acquaintances. I am often brushed to one side in favour of the louder, more charismatic, popular person. Recently 2 of my close girl mates have taken up meditation classes without inviting me: their presumption being “we didn’t think you’d be into it”.

    I’m tired and confused. Should I change who I am? Or should I try to get my head around the fact that I’ll never be physically outstanding, or popular, or the life and soul of the party.

    I’ve stopped making plans with friends. I just spend time with my boyfriend (who thankfully is happy and mentally healthy). It’s only a matter of time though before he gets tired too.

    Apologies for my ramblings! any advice would be really appreciated


    I immediately related to your story. The whole thing…

    I’ve always thought I wasn’t attractive, fat, frizzy hair, eyes too close together, etc…and harshly critical of my personality…talk to much, too loud, overly emotional, weak and stupid, etc. And I always sought out validation from men or other women based on how attractive I was to them. And I always fell short in my own eyes.

    I am now 38. I now know that the 28 and 18 year old me was beautiful. Young, good hair, great skin, nice body. Not perfect. Not commercially attractive. But still awesome, based on realistic standards. And so many good people around me knew it. And I didn’t honor them by appreciating or acknowledging their admiration.

    And guess what, as would be expected I am seeing new things to loath about myself. Wrinkles, stretch marks, sagging flesh, my neck my chest my arms my legs my torso…none of it is good enough. Back then it was just fat or whatever…now it’s just saggy and wrinkly…when will it end?

    Will I, at 48 and 58, regret my self-loathing at 38? Will I then see the beautiful woman I was at 38 that I wish I was at 48 or 58? What about at 68? 78? 88? How much will I hate myself then?

    My point is…you just have to say f*@k it sometimes. Love that body and face now. Someone (your boyfriend!) does. And he shakes his head at your insecurities and wishes you could see yourself through his eyes. At least he will until he gets tired of loving someone who doesn’t honor his love and admiration for her…

    Just sayin’. You’re fine. You’re ok. You’re good enough. Worthy. Start loving yourself now. I know it’s hard work. It doesn’t get easier with time if you’re basing your self-worth on impossible standards. And you’re not the only one who feels this way. You are not alone or odd or at fault for this mentality. But you can change it.

    It’s the only body/soul you’re getting this time around. Enjoy it. 🙂


    There are several things you should keep in mind:
    1) People often know whether another is being authentic or not. This means that if you deep down are an outspoken person, but try to act tame to fit in (or vice versa) people will know. People know if your trying to be something different or not. I invite you to try this- go people watching some time and after some time (it may be difficult at first) you will begin to see whether someone is authentic or just a “sell-out” I call them. Yes, there are many people that are very outspoken, but so many people try to be a “hot-shot” popular person, that it’s really off-putting. Once you notice this in others you will notice this in yourself

    2) Authentic people are generally more attractive than people trying to be someone else. When you are trying something else people can tell you are dissatisfied with the way you are, and not sure who you really are. They feel uncomfortable. Just be yourself, and more people will be attracted to you.

    3) Lastly, being yourself does not mean trying to find who you are and then being it. Who you are changes all the time, it changes every day. What matters is that you do things the way that feels natural. Even certain things about you that you think are silly, really arn’t silly. If you act the way you want to act people will just find that normal, and look at that as you. They won’t laugh and say you are odd. People will only find you odd if you try to act as something that you are not. Oddness is not how you act, but how comfortable you are with the way you act.

    These things take time, so don’t worry about it. That’s good that you are cutting back on drinking. Live a healthy life style and make sure to do things that keep you happy. Once you are healthy and happy things will seem better and you can act authentically.


    hi Alexandra!

    Thank you for sharing. I was immediately drawn after reading the first sentences because I, myself, experienced similar issues of having to bear insults from my dad and family relatives of how anorexic and dark skinned I looked. They too left me with low confidence and anxiety disorder (something I still have to deal with till This day).

    To me I believe every person has had experienced many things that the older us would look back and feel deep regret but the beauty of these bad experiences can act as driving forces to move us into a more positive direction (if we are willing to look for it haha) and the first step to this is to recognise our mistakes and understand the root cause of them like the taking drugs and heavy drinking because you wanted to feel accepted. This is you becoming aware of previous experiences and by doing this you have that wonderful enlightened moment of seeing into your deepest desire – self acceptance. this act of self love you give to yourself can be achieved through mindful meditation. It is called mindful meditation because you become aware of your breath that connects your body to your thoughts where you will be able to look deeply and see many external factors that have continued to linger with you till this day. When you understand your suffering, you suffer less. This is a quote by my favourite Buddhist Teacher THich Nhat Hanh. When you understand these suffering which I can see you are making good starting progress, you realise you do not want to put yourself in more any suffering. I reallyencourage practicing meditation by taking it slow say 5 min per day and. Increase as you get better. although it is better to meditation in a small class with a group of friends especially since you are new to meditation, it is also encouraged if you can doing some sitting meditation in your own time or with your partner where you familiarise yourself with your thoughts and emotions then you can better connect with others energy in a class!

    I began meditation 6 months back due to developing extreme social phobia and random episodes of panic attack in any public setting. My first few months of meditation was a big struggle because I could not bear with myself and my racing thoughts for more than a second, but I continue to sit and breathe and observe these negative thoughts and feelings derived from a negative past and attaching thoughts. It is June now, and I have grown so much. I have become aware of negative thoughts that is causing the psychological symptoms of my anxiety, and unhealthy lifestyle I was living by and am able to let go out them and start anew chapter of my life.

    You still have many positive things awaiting for you if you choose to take charge of the you in this present, so I encourage you to try new things one being meditation. I am sure you this will not be under your regret list. Haha. The one way to know you have mastered meditation is the feeling of peace, freedom and love that blooms within you.
    I hope I was somewhat helpful. I wish you the best.


    Oh on a side note, I forgot to add the app that has been part of my meditation journey, it is called: insight timer. It is accessible both android and apple.


    Hi Alexandra
    Ok, so you spent your formative years having your appearance ridiculed, and then being criticized for shyness and a lack of confidence. Now, you are pre-occupied with body image and feel bitterness towards those who are beautiful. This is an almost inevitable outcome of your experience – almost everyone would respond in the same way. So this is not something that reflects any weakness on your part. It is a perfectly natural, human response to how you were treated.

    One thing that I have observed in many people with similar stories to yours, is that physical appearance almost never has anything to do with it. In fact, they are generally far more attractive than average, as it is jealousy which is the driver – the others can’t compete on looks, so they undermine your self-confidence instead. It is almost certainly this lack of confidence which is the real issue, rather than anything physical – you enter into relationships because they give you some form of validation.

    You ask if you should change who you are. The fact is, you have already tried that with cosmetic procedures, and trying to be “popular” and “pretty”. The fact is, the best way to make oneself attractive is to be happy and confident with who you are, and to actually be yourself. This isn’t going to happen to you overnight, but it will come.

    I’m guessing that, at the moment, you look at yourself in the mirror, and see all the flaws that have been pointed out to you since you were very young. Many supermodels do exactly the same, so it is not about absolute beauty, but about how your brain interprets what it sees. So instead, focus on one aspect of yourself that you like or, if you can’t even see that yet, get your boyfriend to tell you what he likes about you and focus on those things. Make the best of those features, with clothes or make-up. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it – trust his judgment and do it anyway.

    What makes a woman attractive (and, I presume, the same for a man) is someone who cares enough to make the best of what they have. Your low self-esteem is preventing you from doing that. Break through that by taking the action anyway and you will find your self-esteem will improve. And your boyfriend is likely to be impressed at the changes!

    Similarly, wanting to be popular has probably also led to you not being yourself, and therefore coming across as inauthentic. By worrying about popularity, you might come across as “needy” or “clingy”, which can make others shy away. Your friends may have thought that you would only join the class to be with them, and genuinely believed that you wouldn’t be into it. Try to focus on their needs rather than yours – ask them how the meditation class is going, what they enjoy and don’t enjoy about it. Take a genuine interest in their work, their family, and their other friends. Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves, so they will welcome the opportunity to speak to you about it. If they just think that you will bring them your problems, don’t be surprised when they find something else to do.

    So, in summary, don’t change yourself – be yourself, and change the way you look at yourself. You went through a hard time when you were younger, but now you are just perpetuating it yourself. They were jealous, and told you lies. From today, you will see the truth.

    Good luck!



    In addition to the other kindly words offered, consider that the issue you seem to be wrestling with is shame. Consider that your family lied to you. They said, in words and emotions, that if you had a different nose, different ears, and different skin, they would accept you, love you, and be kind to you. This is simply not true. They were unkind, unloving, and unaccepting because of issues inside them. Like bullies, they had inner garbage, stress, and used whatever excuses they could find to express that inner stress. If you nose didn’t give them excuse, they would have picked something different. Maybe you smiled too much, hips too wide or too skinny, feet too small or too big, hair too long or too short. The issue was never you, it was their need to pick on someone, make themselves feel better by laughing at pointing at something. And there you were.

    This feeling of shame is a very natural and normal result. Feeling disconnected because of something we are, have, or have done. As though there is a maze in front of us, a carrot. If only (something) were different, I would be worthy of kind connection.

    The problem with such a maze is it is false. You can’t be disconnected, can’t earn acceptance from others. They accept or reject based on their own internal workings. The right nose, ears, lips, hips, skin, being a virgin…. none of that would stop a bully from finding an excuse to try to lift themselves up by stepping on your face.

    If you can see a little glimmer here, I highly recommend you consider reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. She has studied shame extensively, and has some great and inspiring things that she shares on the subject. She also has a TED talk that might also strike a chord, if you’re interested.

    Finally, when we feel disconnected, there are a great many things we often try in order to find connection. Surgery, sex partners, self berating… All normal, usual, lovable, and do not put a stain on your beauty. They reveal it. Look at how much effort you have put into trying to find answers! You’ve never given up. Marvelous!

    With warmth,


    Dear AlexandraW:
    After reading your post and the comments I want to add two things:
    1) As to a suggestion for you to focus on the needs of the person you want to connect with and not on your own- I may not be in touch with the context of this advice and taking it out of that context, but it is wrong, in my view. It is focusing on YOUR needs and viewing then any relationship or interaction with another as a win-win interaction is the way to go. But first your needs, this is your job and responsibility- YOU. My lifetime pattern of focusing on my (abusive) mother’s needs and not on my own was disasterous to me and prevented me from healing for decades.
    2) If you are still in relationship with your shaming/ disrespecting/ abusive (any of these or all) familty members, if any of them still shames and disrespects you- it is your job and your responsibility to stop that shaming relationships or interactions by either asserting yourself and watching for a change in their behavior toward you or not engaging in contact with any or all of them. How can you heal if you are still allowing yourslef (now that you have the ability to choose) to be abused? Of course, if you are not and once you are not, you will still have to deal with the part of you that took after those shaming people in your life, the internal critic or abusive superego that is well established in your brain. As it has been in mine.

    I do hope that over time you will experience more and more peace of mind and acceptance of all the things you are now ashamed of. I have a whole list of those… and over time I am feeling less shame. I don’t feel comfortable sharing here some of the things I am still ashamed of and I do not intend to do it becasue I don’t currently need to do it, but I feel way better about those things. I forgive myself for the ways I hurt myself and (more difficult for me) for the ways I hurt a few innocent others. I have to becasue I can’t go back into the past and do anything about it. For my benefit- and for the benefit of decent people who are or will be in my life- my best course is to forgive myself, reduce and eliminate (if possible, I do not know yet) shame.

    Azura Kyomi

    Your words have really spoken to me. I have found myself with no close friends, I am an overly defensive person but try very hard to be nice and put others first, show an interest etc. None of this works, however the defensive prickly personality isnt me. It is like a skin I put on many years ago that I cant seem to shrug off. It makes me intensely uncomfortable and I am aware it affects how I interact with people. Maybe others are picking up on this disingenuous’ of self……


    Hi Alexandra,

    We are scarred in childhood and then spend our adult lives trying to ‘sort’ things out !

    Society further adds to this burden and then the mind becomes overwhelmed !!

    The only solution to this is to find YOUR “SELF”. To do that you have to find your inner strength – it is not easy but can be done if you have the will.

    Don’t give up – you are still young and have your life ahead of you – fix this issue now !

    Here are links to 2 articles that will help:

    Also, please watch this one video/song – it relates to your situation:

    GOD Bless !!!

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