Samantha’s mom looked at her with pure doubt and anguish. That is because Samantha’s mom looked at her and heard the sound of painful settling. Isn’t it funny how we can see with our ears and hear with our eyes?
When the things we see and hear affect us greatly, every single solitary part of our body becomes a beacon of expression. Just ask Samantha, who, two weeks before she would walk down the aisle, caught her fiancé having sex with someone else. And still she walked down the aisle anyway, wearing her mother’s doubt in her head and her own doubt in her heart.
Unfortunately for Samantha, confidence was two dress sizes too small and, thus, one she never wore. Three years later, Samantha walked away from her husband on account of unhappiness. More specifically, she was tired of being called a rhino and being made to believe that her weight issues justified his continued cheating. Now she is a divorcee and has a divorce decree and $13,200 in lawyer fees to prove it. Unfortunately, that confidence dress is still not in her wardrobe.
There is a part of me that aches to drop kick her ex-husband for being such a cunning, selfish bastard. The bigger, evolved part of me, however, wants to focus Samantha on focusing on Samantha. I have seen her before, not in a literal sense mind you, but in various, like versions. Tired of being overweight. Tired of being seen as overweight. Letting the weight of being overweight and the subsequent dips in confidence lead to a dip in standards before a dip in the hay with someone that recognizes her lack of confidence and plays her accordion, I mean, accordingly.
I tried with Samantha, who, by the way, was the first client I ever had some 10 years ago when I became a relationship coach. She came to me for help with her self-esteem issues and the associated damage they were having on her life. But how would I help Samantha, what would I tell her? Duh, I don’t tell her anything. Coaching is not about giving advice but instead about helping people find and unpack thoughts and feelings that have brought them to whatever place they would like to investigate. I knew this then, at least from an academic sense, but I had no practical experience to go by. And, as painful as this is for me to admit, I failed Samantha.
Now, 10 years later, I am a seasoned, certified, groveling, pleading relationship coach that would love nothing more than to be able to speak to the many versions of Samantha that reside in this world. Divorced women with bruised egos from cheating men that decided their wives were no longer (or ever) attractive enough to stay faithful to. Before you put yourself back out in the dating world, let me do what a coach is not supposed to do and give you some advice.
3 pieces of advice for any woman who has been cheated on:
1. Be who you are and no one else. I can only imagine the pain of being cheated on or verbally put down by those who claim they love you, but adjusting or changing who you are as a result says two things. Thing 1: The cheater won. Thing 2: You will never really be who you are.
2. If you have the desire to change how you look, do not ever do it for the purpose of finding love. Do it if, and because, it will make you feel better about yourself or make you healthier. I will not pretend that self-confidence is not important, nor will I assume that self-confidence is never about looks, but what I will say is that too many people get plastic surgery or kill themselves at the gym because they care so much about what others think.
3. Own who you are -- physically, intellectually, and emotionally. This is like being who you are but with a nine-piece orchestra in tow. No one can deny the undeniable confidence and energy that comes from someone that takes no consolations and makes no bones about their level of inner and outer happiness.
I saw the real Samantha a few months ago, and she is still single, depressed, and struggling with her health due to abnormal complications from a tummy tuck. We talked for a bit, mostly about her dating life, since the divorce and the abundance of advice she has received from “more experienced coaches”—her words. She laughed while saying it, but I won’t lie and say it did not affect me. What affected me more was the story behind her tummy tuck and her associated regrets.
Samantha began dating a man named Marcus, who convinced her that she was “perfect in every way” with the exception of her tummy. He told her that he would stay with her if she would take care of that. Samantha, without hesitation, had the procedure done. Two months later, Marcus was out of the picture. Today, Samantha’s biggest regret with the procedure has nothing to do with the abnormal swelling around her thighs that burn like wildfire, it is the memories of a fleeting relationship that drove her to make a decision that she was not actually comfortable with. “Two-time loser” was the phrase she used to describe herself, her divorce being the other point of reference. In other words, Marcus won, the ex-husband won, and Samantha’s confidence is still at a loss. If only I could tell her then what I, and many of you, know now.