Monday, April 30, 2018

Guest Post: How the "Pick Me Dance" Can Help You Pick You

Take flight, my friends.
by Still Standing 1

It’s happened. D-Day. We’ve somehow or other discovered the excruciating truth that our spouse has been having an affair. Like many of you, I immediately took the blame. Something must have been entirely wrong with me or he would not have strayed. We believe all his complaints about not being giving enough, not being sexually available, not being a better something, or whatever blame-shifting he engaged with. We now know that’s all bull but at the time we were desperate for any clues, any hint as to why this might happen and what we could do to fix it. We wanted some way, no matter how painful, of taking control of the situation. Sadly, accepting blame is a way to take control because if it is our fault, then we can change; we can be better, do more, be perfect and it will be fixed and we won’t hurt anymore. This often leads us to the “Pick Me Cha-Cha” (aka the Pick Me Dance).
During the Pick Me Dance we do things that seem to make sense at the time but in hindsight make us shake our heads, cringe, wonder and feel some regret. How could I have been so crazy? Why did I want sex all the time? Why did I buy that outfit? I want to flip that script and show you how the Pick Me Dance is part of the healing process and can put you on the road to the realization that the only person who needs to pick you is you.
As I look back at my Pick Me Dance, I don’t feel regret. Rather, I look with a great deal of compassion and see that I was taking tentative steps toward self-care in those “him focused” actions. As I list some of the funny and sad things I did and reframe them as learning opportunities or ways to carve a new self out of the rubble, I hope you’ll see yourself too. I can look back at myself in those early difficult days with compassion, humor and amazement at how far I’ve come.
1.     Piles of sexy new underwear and bras
Zero regrets. I had felt unsexy forever and had not bought new underwear in what seems like a decade. If I did, it was all about comfort. As I lost weight, I needed to buy new pairs or they would have ended up around my ankles. And guess what, a thong makes your ass look great in jeans. Now I have a nice mix of comfy for every day or working out and sexy for dates or just when I need to give myself an ego boost. I’ve claimed what started out as an attempt to be sexy enough to compete with the OW and turned it into claiming sexy for myself. It feels pretty good.
2.     Bikinis and nicer clothes, dresses
Ditto here. My clothes had all been about covering up, disguising my body and generally making myself disappear. Now I bought clothes that I looked and felt good in. I even got a couple of pairs of booty shorts for running. And bikinis were a big step. (Yes, I have cellulite and no matter how thin I get, I have a curvy, zaftig tum). But while the clothes started out as a response to him complaining that I made no effort to look good, they ended as an act of defiance and treating myself as if I matter. Now I enjoy dressing to highlight my best features. I’ve got great arms and collar bones. Decent legs too. Sun dresses all the way! Taking pride in your appearance is not about vanity. It is about showing that you value yourself.
3.     Wearing makeup, dressing nicer, showering every day
Again, his complaint was that I had “let myself go” and I made no effort over my appearance. Thing is, he wasn’t wrong. It was shitty of him to bring it up in the context of why HE felt neglected in the relationship. But. I had let myself go. I felt too much shame about my appearance, my body, my perceived failure at everything to try very hard. I wanted to be invisible because I did not love who I was. Post D-Day, I recognized that I needed muster up the courage to shower and brush my teeth every day. This was the tiniest recognition that I needed to take care of myself for the coming weeks and months. Wearing makeup, while initially an effort to please him, also made me feel more confident when I left the house, at a time when my confidence was completely shattered. People responded positively to me, my smile and my energy. Over time, I claimed this as something I do for myself. And I don’t need to wear makeup every time I leave the house (conversation with my daughter woke me up about that). I can now choose when it I want to, and I promise, it is no longer about him.
4.     Purchasing an online coaching program for women to “Be Irresistible”
This one is probably the most embarrassing but I look back at tender-hearted, sad me and recognize that I was casting about for something, anything that might let me save my marriage or increase the likelihood of him picking me. This was a series of videos and articles that help you become a man magnet, to become irresistible. Some of the marketing was questionable but as it turns out when you sift the “attracting men” part out of it, there was some quality instruction (that I turned into a post on here about working on you). I learned new ways to listen, reflect and engage in conversation that showed I was interested in paying attention. I use this new skill often with friends, with my business clients, as well as boys, and it pays off in better connections. It also gave me my first understanding of developing and focusing on my strengths and having a rich life, so I can confidently stand on my own because confidence is attractive. So despite the fact that I am now on a mailing list where they encourage me to purchase their secret string of texts that will have him melting with desire for me, I got some really useful life skills out of this package.
5.     Fat reduction injections, Laser hair removal, Botox and collagen
Yes I really did all those things. I had been told I had given up, was not fighting aging (never mind that I didn’t see the inherent futility and problem of fighting what is inevitable for us all. These days I’m all about healthy and graceful aging and what feels right for me). I was already engaged with a weight-loss program pre-D-Day. (I knew something was terribly, terribly wrong, so in some ways I jumped into the Pick Me Dance early). The program involved HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin – same as you release when you are pregnant) injections. It also involves an extremely restricted diet. It cost a lot of money. But I was desperate after years of failed weight loss and knew I needed to lose weight to start to feel better about myself. Cue the ironic trumpet fanfare.
The weight loss has been good for me. My cholesterol numbers are way down. I feel better. I did have 50 lbs to lose. I do regret the waste of money but since we were still sharing income at the time, I don’t lose any sleep over it. Verdict is HCG has nothing to do with weight loss. Not eating (and PTSD) has everything to do with weight loss.
Laser hair removal. Zero Regrets. Not one. I did a series of sessions for my bikini zone and my underarms. I frequently had razor burn in those areas in the past. After about seven sessions, the hair is gone (it will be different for different hair types). I only shave my armpits once a month now and then it is very fine. Bikini zone? Gone forever. While I was doing this, I was absolutely thinking “dammit, I’m gonna be hot for you, jerkface, or I am going to be hot for some future guy who actually values me.” (Note the defiance creeping in.)
Collagen I did once. Very minimal amounts under my eyes in folds around the nose and mouth and a tiny bit in the lips (I did not want that Hollywood, “I’ve been making out with a hot curling iron” look.) I have to admit, I loved the results. But. The cost was prohibitive. I spent a pile on a couple of vials (his money). And you need so little, my dermatologist has a safe where your vials are kept and you can get more done for up to two years or until you use it up. My results were long-lasting, however, I know I can save up and do it again if I want to or not if I don’t.
Botox. I am a huge fan. I have been getting injections since my early 40s. I think it makes a difference in how your face ages. It is totally safe (been used to treat migraines for decades before cosmetic use) and reasonably priced. My trade off is that I don’t color my hair. Money, chemicals, stress, roots grow in in three weeks.  Getting Botox once every six months costs significantly less than getting my hair colored every month. How does this fit in to the Pick Me Dance? It was part of trying to be younger than I am in response to his criticism. It shifted when I made a commitment to myself not to give this up if things went south. The idea that I deserved to do something nice for myself was revolutionary at the time.
6.     Sex toys & initiating sex often
Ok, sad, but I know we’ve all done it in some form. We try to turn ourselves into a sex pot to win him back. Wore outfits that showed copious amounts of cleavage and leg. Extremely naughty panties (still in the package). I tried often to initiate sex and except for the immediate week after D-Day, he always turned me down. It was tough to take. But the vibrator turned out to be a path toward reclaiming my sexuality. I had felt unlovable and unsexy for so long. And again, defiance rears it’s head. I realized on some level that this was going to be a long haul and I needed to get comfortable taking care of my own needs if he wasn’t. I am so much more comfortable with my body, sex, what feels good for me and asking for it when I am with a partner. Health stuff.
7.     Exercise
I was working out to be in better shape, more attractive, compete with the other woman, be whatever enough for him to stay. But it also kept me sane. Getting out to classes was social and connected me with new people. Running on my own cleared my head. Solitary weight lifting cleared the pain and grief out of my body. Social hikes connected me with people. And now I know it is critical for my mental health. The more I move, the happier I am. I keep moving for me now.
8.     Cooking elaborate meals, buying gifts, leaving flowers, little notes
I had read Love Languages. I was trying any and every thing I could to reach him. Acts of service by cooking elegant and delicious meals; buying him nice clothes or things he needed on business trips; and words of affirmation by leaving him little notes in his desk, wallet or suitcase when he traveled. I left him little flowers or sprigs of herbs from the garden. I sent him pictures of home when he was away for work. I tried so many ways to show him what he was risking losing. I won’t say none of it mattered. It mattered to me that I tried. It was also the beginning of me understanding that no matter what I did or didn’t do now or in the past, this was really about him, his issues, his acting out his pain and his fears and damage. Over time I shifted to doing these things for myself. Affirmations written on notes on my mirror where I can see them, cooking foods I like (or ordering sushi!), setting a little money aside each month to save up for something to gift myself ( a drone for photography – my big hobby, or a new grill, a nice piece of jewelry – currently obsessed with rings).
9.     Music/art lessons
One of the things I had read about recovering from trauma in the many helpful and sometimes ridiculous articles and books I read about saving a marriage, was to just start doing things differently, start deciding, start doing things, pursue a new hobby, do something out of character and out of your comfort zone, make a different choice and change your brain (I normally take this route home. Today I a going to take a different route. Today I am going to stop and take pictures. Next week I will drive into the city for a flea market). I took up painting classes. At first it was about showing him that I was growing, investing in myself and “interesting” i.e worth keeping.  It quickly became an important creative and emotional outlet for me. It was social and got me out to meet new people. I also took up piano lessons. Music has always been his thing; singing and playing guitar. I took piano lessons with the instructor who already came to the house for my daughter. I wanted to show an interest in his interests and maybe give us an opportunity to play together at some distant point. Sweet but so wasted on him. I loved learning and got some basics pretty quickly. Thought I can’t afford regular lessons, I do barter with the instructor in exchange for working on her website. Now I practice when I need a mental break from my desk. I know it is something I can come back to for the rest of my life.
10.  A tattoo
This was another face of doing something new and out of character. There was a huge element of “look how edgy and sexy I am.” But it was also about me, my spiritual journey and reclaiming my body from past and present trauma. I had identified birds as my messengers in grim times. I used to meditate on the different winged visitors to see what they had to teach me. And one day I lined up a bird in flight as my heart breaking up out of my chest and free. For the first time ever, I thought “that would make a cool tattoo.” I found art I admired, did an adaptation, sat with it for a month, made an appointment, waited another month and finally when the day for the tattoo appointment rolled around, felt excited and ready. Getting a tattoo on the ribs is pretty painful. It’s high up, so most people never see it. It is a little sparrow (my symbol of hope) flying up out from my ribs under my left arm.  By the time I got the tattoo, it was 100% about me and my journey.

Most of us do some form of the Pick Me Dance. I hope you can look back at your own actions during that painful time with love and compassion. Mentally wrap that version of you in a warm hug. Then see if you can reframe any of those things as I have. What did you learn? How did it evolve for you? How are you now Picking You instead of waiting for him to do so?


  1. Ss1 i wish I’d have done some of the things you did, I was quite tame considering. I think having a 5 month old baby meant my choices were limited, yes I lost weight, got a personal trainer who trained me at home. I planned ‘date nights’ which we had never done before, loads of sex, still loved my big knickers couldn’t part with them lol. D day 1 was 5 years ago and it’s only the last year that I’ve really started doing for me. Taking my boys on holiday without my h was a big achievement for me and we had great times, starting university in September will be another milestone for me. I’m starting to think about me and what I want out of life. Great post ss1 got me thinking .. thank you xx

  2. SS1, this is priceless, timely and appreciated. You are a fabulous coach and I thank you for giving me another way to reflect on and reframe the past almost three years of my life.

  3. Fantastic piece here SS1. Thanks for always being honest.
    Ahhh yes. The "pick me" dance. I had to experience this to realise this dance is not for me. I'm happy to dance solo now!
    Time for reflection.
    Why shouldn't I have been picked. I was his wife!!! yet here I was fighting for him to pick me - What was I fighting for? An immature, emotionally devoid man-boy with many narcissistic traits.
    I too copped the years of criticism of my weight, what I wore, my friends, what I should say and not say.....
    I've always known I wasn't 100% happy with him - but I just shut up to keep the peace. Even with his toxic parents who it was alright for them to criticise everyone else, but no one was to say anything to them! The apple did not fall far from the tree with my h and his parents.
    I suppose with his affairs, I finally had an "aha - wake up or drown" moment where I didn't want to be who I had become with him for the rest of my life. He didn't want us to grow as a couple - he wanted to mould me into what he wanted, and when I didn't always conform, he did not like it. And whilst I was being myself to a certain extent, I wasn't 100% authentic with me -I'd let him dictate the music! So enough. Enough of listening to his criticisms of me - which in actual fact are criticisms of himself - as he was putting on weight and quite frankly, ageing worse than me!
    Whilst I have always been happy, I feel like so much of authentic me was stifled and kept pushed down. Now that I have picked me, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I like who I am. I will still be that caring helpful person, but I will pick who gets my energy and time. I know how to look out for those red flags. I know it's ok, it's necessary, to pick me first.
    I'm lucky I have always kept up with my friends and when time and money permitted, did things for myself, so the only real change on a personal level is not having my husband around..... and the more I picked me, the less I missed him....funny. I don't miss him anymore. LOL.
    Good riddance to the rotten apples from that tree!

    Gabby xo

  4. Yes, I guess thinking positive helps a lot.

    Then, give him a hint on how much you love him everyday. He will come around sooner or later.
    He picked you, remember?


  5. All well said and so familiar! For me I try to focus on pivoting these things done early on to self care. I find that in the end it is about me and sticks with me whether he is here or not as you make the point to mention. Love this!

  6. Feeling tired and drained ladies. The doctor has diagnosed a tumuor in my left ear which thankfully it is benign. Scheduling a surgery soon. I have been really fighting myself: my conflicted self. Sorry ladies, I am just feeling drained for the past few weeks. Trying to put things behind after retracting the divorce for my son's sake but I still feel so unsettled and angry. The 'whys' did this happen to me twice and what sins have I done to be punished kept coming. I kept asking God. My faith waivers and I remind myself what my pastor advised: do good and be patient. But I am human.


  7. Gabby I love how you picked you! Your right the more we pick ‘us’ the less likely we are to put up with their unreasonable behaviour. Good riddance to bad apples indeed : ) xxx

  8. Still standing 1 right on target! I’m guilty of buying eye makeup even if I know what it causes with my eye condition! Lol the naughty underwear, special perfume yep but I stopped short of a boob job and tummy tuck! Laughing now! I wasn’t about to change me for him but I did demand that he change his behavior! Apparently he’s happier now than ever even with the addition of stress of taking care of my mother 24/7. We are just getting through one day at a time!

  9. I love this, SS1. I did almost all of this and arrived where you are, satisfied that these things were ultimately good for me because of how I choose to see them. It's difficult for me to this day that the reasons my H gave initially for having the affairs were mostly true statements about me. I had given up and didn't see myself as sexy. I made no effort to "stay young". I was tired a lot of times and irritated with him often. The thing is, I didn't want to be any of those things. I was responding to my environment the best way I could. Trudging forward despite his lack of engagement with me. After D day, I was able to see the fruits of all my hard labor. NOTHING. All my sacrifices earned me nothing. I was at ground zero. Painful but eye opening. While I did try to cling to the shrapnel that used to be my life (pick me), I also knew I had to stop putting energy into everyone else. They were not refilling me and I was bankrupt.

    Yesterday was my 2 year D day anniversary. I made my yearly donation of a gift card for running shoes to my marriage counselor. She gifts it to someone recovering from infidelity. I decided to take the day off from work to "pick me" and surprised my teenage son on the way to school by taking him with me. He struggles with ADHD and gets his ass handed to him at school every day overcoming those obstacles. I've never let him take off a day before (unless sick). We saw a great art house movie, had delicious seafood (my H doesn't like), went shopping, and for a nature walk. We talked more than we ever have and really had a nice time together. At the end of the day he thanked me. Had tears in his eyes. He said it was one of the best days of his life. I agreed. It was one of mine too. My son doesn't know of the affairs or what I've been through, so to have this day mean something special and wonderful to him is profound. Relationships with teens can get so rough, so I'm happy I carved out this moment with him. April 30th is my own national holiday now. It's a day in which I decide what I want. When I do nice things for me and people around me. It's a day that can spark change, growth, and reflection. Relationships are investigated and renewed. The first April 30th wasn't a lovely day like this one was, but it was most of these other things. I have a whole year now to plan how I will spend the next April 30th. At the end of my life, I should have a large collection of good experiences!

    1. ann, Good for you! I love what you did. The day with your son sounds amazing. And how increcible how it touched him. I too try to be that way with my kids. I am more present than ever and focus on our experiences together. Through all of this I want to value and get as much out of my time with my kids before college. My kids do not know about the affairs either but through our conversations I hope to educate them, open their eyes and have a strong relationship with them.

  10. SS1, One of the first things I remember talking to my H about after DD was that he admitted he hated my ugly green winter coat. Funny, I hated it too but only bought it because it was $5.00! My focus was on my 3 children, him looking great in the business world & I could make do with an ugly green winter coat with a horrible fake brown fur collar. But, it was only $5.00! The next day it was donated to keep a homeless woman or man warm. I then went shopping with my girlfriend & bought a beautiful wine color leather jacket for $116.00! (remember, it was 1981 so it was quite pricey!) Coincidentally, I busted him traveling with OW in room 116 in a motel in another state. Plus he spent $116.00 in 1 month on long distance phone charges to talk to her. I would have bought that coat for $116.00 if it was a horrible green with a fake fur collar for that price just to prove a point. Letting myself go, my ass! Love y'all, Carol, the First

  11. Lynn Im sorry your feeling drained but hardly surprised. Try to concentrate on one thing at a time, and you being top of the list. Get yourself well, Back to basics sleep, rest and eat when you can and once your better you will hopefully see things much more clearer. I know when I’m tired and poorly I think of the worse and then become angry all of which is no help so just take a step back and give yourself some time to recover from your tumour, thank god it is benign. This feeling will pass lynn I promise.. sending you love And strength xx

    1. Thank you Sam A. Sending love and strength back to you too ��

  12. Lovely idea Ann, I bet you wanted to cry when your son said it was one of his best days, made me tearful. What a kind, generous woman you are. I hope your h realises just how lucky he is to have this second chance xx

  13. One pick me dance I did, upon reflection, was the most unhealthy and I don't see it listed here. I held back anger from my H. I didn't yell and scream and tell him I hated him for what he did. It's as if I was convinced he'd leave me if I was too "difficult". After a few weeks, I recognized that my anger needed to be expressed. Out loud. Directly and clearly. Because I can't be the only one who had homicidal and suicidal thoughts...I knew holding that in was killing me. Still, I expressed my anger with clear words, not in a rage, while driving a car (weird). I spelled out what it was like for me. What goes through my mind when i think about what he did. How he had a million choices and he chose this (and that's all on him). To that point I had been flat and emotionless with him. Reassuring even. (Shock? Trying to hold back to be more attractive? Supercompoassionate?) I remember having to take a deep breath and say all that stuff knowing he might leave. He didn't, but I had to be ready for him to (I was!) What did I learn? I have some crazy emotional control that may not serve me well. I care for others at the expense of myself. There's more than one kind of "anger issue" a person can have, and mine is tied to not seeing myself as worthy as I am internally. I think I have to "hold back" to keep people around. This is a tendency I've been working on, and will continue to, since I found out and tried to shield my perpetrator from feeling badly about that. A source of shame for me, but a starting point for growth too. Make up, weight loss, new underwear... these things benefit you. Holding back anger so you're more desirable does you no good. Recognizing it and changing does though!!

    1. ann - I love this. Sadly I can relate to this so much. I’m still working on finding my voice. It’s a work in progress.

      Truthfully I’m afraid to release it all because at this point it feels like it could become an out of control inferno.

    2. Yes Ann, and Kimberley, this is me too! And I don't know why or how I got to be that way.

      That's why I appreciated the mediator/counsellor. She provided a neutral space where my h had to listen to me and couldn't just tune out or turn it on to himself. She asked really helpful questions to start me off- instead of getting sidetracked by my h's tangents as tended to happen outside the centre.

      It was the only time we were 'alone' together without our toddler daughter. Obviously I didn't want to express destructive emotions in front of her.

      If you have the chance to get to a neutral zone, seize it!

  14. LOL I did many of these things. I already wore thong underwear, but I remember I could do the hula hoop with it so had to purchase smaller.

  15. I am in the midst of this dance right now. I know I let myself go to keep up with other things in my life, but right now...its all about me. My kids are in college so I have the time to work on myself and whatever makes me feel better about myself. Botox? Check. Appt with plastic surgeon? Check. Personal trainer 3x/week? Check. Makeup every day? Check. New clothes? Check. I figure that if I do it for myself, then it's ok if the H doesn't "pick me". Then I and perhaps some other lucky man will reap the rewards of my time and effort.

    1. ElleBelle, I feel you. I'm sorry your in this spot but glad you found us. I had the same thinking. I was doing the pick me dance and knew (to some degree) that it was a desperate attempt to be more loveable. But I also realized I hadn't done things that were all about me in eons. And if my now ex was dumb enough to let me go (he was) some other lucky human was going to enjoy the new me. And I found over the course of the dance, that it shifted from being aimed at him to "please please pick me" to just being about me picking myself. So much more important.
      The only caution I would urge is really think long and hard about any permanent unalterable change to your body. its yours. You are free to do what you want. But just be slow about making any decisions. There's plenty of time. (That's just my PSA on make sure you are coming from a place of self love vs not enoughness and that's 100% my stuff).
      I'm grateful for your comment on this past post. Its the perfect timing (while my ex is being his classic self centered, life is a crisis put me in a daytime tv drama self) for a reminder to me that I need to keep choosing me. As many times as it takes.
      And ElleBelle, keep choosing you. No matter what happens. If he gets his head out of his ass and wakes up to what he is losing in time to make amends or if you decide you are done and ready to move one or any one of a hundred other things; no matter what, YOU will be OK.

    2. ElleBelle and SS1, "Keep choosing you" is about the best advice I've ever heard.
      And SS1's point about making choices from a place of self-love and care and nurturing is key too. I LOVE makeup and clothes and making myself pretty. But I can always tell when it's coming from a place of "I need to look the part" and when it's coming from a place of pleasure in myself.



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