Please help: self-esteem issues after abusive relationship

For context, I recently started therapy and I’ve been addressing a lot of the issues I had with my ex. I’ve come to realise he was abusive, in many ways. It’s been six months since we broke up, but I’ve only been no contact with him for a month.

Last night, for the first time in a while, I decided to go out to a club with some friends. I spent the whole evening getting ready, really feeling myself and listening to music as I did it. I picked out an outfit that I loved. I felt comfortable in my skin; I’ve gained weight since I left my nex, mostly due to the antidepressants I’m on to cope with my mental health issues, but I thought it sat well on me. I couldn’t help but smile. I felt like a woman.

I met up with my friends at a party first. I was so confident, I talked to everyone with ease, laughed and didn’t worry about “getting too drunk and embarrassing myself”, like he always said I did.

Things went sharply down hill when I got to the club. I feel so ashamed for saying this, but it really stung seeing all these girls getting approached and no one even looking at me. It was like everything my ex said about me was true. I am too chubby. My face is round and childish. I don’t have the light, the magnetism, the whatever it is to attract someone. . There’s nothing special about me, guys notice me a lot but they rarely approach.

I felt lost in the crowd. I thought “at least if I was with him, I’d have someone to dance with,” and like an idiot I missed him. I know he didn’t really love me, but it was a least nice to have someone want me in some way.

When I got home I cried and cried and cried. My ex cost me all of my confidence and I don’t feel like I’ll ever have it back. I feel so dull and plain, and yet at the same time so abnormal. Ugly, is the word. He was incredibly focused on my appearance, to the point he got me addicted to stimulants and actively hid food from me so I’d get skinny. He never once called me beautiful, stunning, pretty etc. Just hot, and that’s if I was lucky. If I’d pissed him off he’d call me a fat piglet, and he’d make a point of staring at me like there was something wrong with me or my outfit when we went out, kind of sneering at me. And then he’d go flirt with someone else, someone who never looked anything like me. Blonde, tall, skinny, tanned.

How did you guys deal with self esteem issues stemming from emotional abuse? I’m at a total loss. And yes, I will be talking to my therapist about this, I’d just like to hear some accounts from people who’ve been there :)

Please help: self-esteem issues after abusive relationship