I am reacting differently to my hair loss than I thought I would. Hair, after-all, has never really been of great concern to me. I have never really worn make-up nor really concerned myself about my nails. This, by the way, was all much to my mother’s chagrin.
My mom was a Russian beauty. Although she did not need to wear make-up or worry about her appearance, she always did. I remember when she was in her 80’s she talked to me about the possibility of getting the space in her teeth fixed. She was always very conscious of her teeth – and she was conscious of mine. As much as she tried, my mom could not get me interested in cosmetics. She sold cosmetics for years and years through a home-based company called, “Beauty Counselor”. She was good and she had regular customers. This gave her a little extra spending money and cheap access to what she considered to be excellent product. My poor mother tried so hard to “feminize” me and all I wanted to do was climb trees and collect brush for the bonfires.
So, that I am reacting to my hair-loss is a bit of a mystery to me that I have spent quite some time trying to analyse. The only thing I can think of in terms of the meaning is that it represents “loss”.
As much as I try to think positively – doubt and uncertainty creep in and rear their ugly heads.
Action: my hair falls out. Reaction 1: I am sick. Reaction 2: I am killing the bad cells!
Action: I am tired Reaction 1: I will always be tired. Reaction 2: I will rest to get better!
Action: I have a head-ache Reaction 1: I have brain cancer Reaction 2: Tylenol will take the pain away.
Action: I want to go out in public Reaction 1: I am fine. Reaction 2: Remember your immune system, Stacey!
Action: I lay down in bed and look at the Einstein poster about life. Reaction 1: I wonder if I will survive this thing? Reaction 2: Damn it! I will fight!
I wonder if we are programmed to think negatively? It is so much easier and so much more natural to think the worst first – to indulge the child voice in me. I can’t… I won’t… this is too hard… it doesn’t matter what I do, I will fail. It is almost decadent to allow the easier defeatist voice to speak on my behalf. It takes energy to stifle the child and allow the adult to emerge. I don’t always have the energy.
This morning, while walking with my husband, I had a break-down in the middle of Patterson Road. I was not prepared for tears. I had no idea they were lurking. It’s like I was an innocent victim robbed of my happy mood by a stalker. But there we were – en route – and I couldn’t contain myself. My husband “gave me permission” to cry – and so I did. I didn’t know why I was so upset until I told him that losing my hair was upsetting me. There it was – my confession of sin. My confession of vanity. My confession that I didn’t want to look “sick”. I held onto my husband’s arm and we walked in silence for the next while. I had a hard time processing what I just heard myself say. Had I pretended to not care about my appearance all my life to spite my mom? Had I ignored her pleas for me to take care of my skin because I was too stubborn to take her advice? What the hell was going on with me now? I was filled with uncertainty – again.
By the end of the walk, I had decided that I would take a friend’s advice and get a short, short hair cut. At least that way the loss would be less obvious. I flashed back to the night my daughter was massaging my head to try to relieve my head-ache pain. She has always given me such great head-rubs. She invited my youngest son to rub my head and he hesitated between not wanting to hurt my feelings and his aversion to pulling out strands of hair. He witnessed my daughter calmly brushing the hair off her pants and my back so that I would not see the loss. He didn’t know what to do. It was one of those life moments when you are forced to make a decision and neither decision is the right one – but then, neither is wrong. In any case, short hair is harder to see – so I concluded that was important to me. The less evidence of the loss, the better.
“I used to wear a wig everyday, Stacey.” confessed one of my friends. “I took a photo in to the wig-maker and she styled a wig with a hair-style similar to my own.”
Heading into winter, maybe that would be a good idea? At least my head would be warm. What does a wig feel like anyhow? One of my other friends who has curly locks to die for offered me her hair. Has that ever happened to you? Has anyone ever offered you their hair – for real?? The offer was so generous as her hair was part of her personality. I just couldn’t accept. I don’t even like the idea that wigs are made from someone else’s hair. How is that possible even?
Another friend of mine stopped by with a beautiful scarf yesterday. I was so impressed, I cried as I opened it. The colours were so warm – the colours of autumn. I wrapped the scarf immediately around my head and it felt wonderful. It was like having a security blanket to cling to. It secured my hair in place and reassured me that everything was going to be okay. Could I get used to having this on my head? How would people react? Would it be an eye magnet? On my neck, it would be complimented and crooned about. On my head… would it be a different story. Weird how the placement of a scarf can change the entire “look” of a person. Head scarves mean “cancer patient” don’t they?
So, here I sit. Conscious that strand by strand, I am losing my hair. It is particularly noticeable after a shower. I hesitate to shower as a result. I don’t brush it. I don’t blow dry it. I don’t straighten it. I am uncertain how I will react if the loss speeds up.
“There, there, Stacey” changes to “Hair, hair, Stacey”. It is really neither here nor hair. The idea of baldness, after-all, must surely grow on me. The wig, at least, won’t leave me stranded! Hair today, gone tomorrow. (And so on…)
I am very positive that I am reacting differently to my hair loss than I thought I would. I wonder what my mother would have said to me? I wonder what my family and friends will think of me? Will I still be strong without my hair – or is the Sampson and Delilah thing kick in? I am so uncertain what hair-loss will mean to me, however, there is one thing I am positive about -I’m about to find out!