I wanted to love myself. I wanted something to change. After years of therapy, coaching and other healing work, the world began to look up. I was full of possibility. The secret that I kept close to me, hidden in the shadows for 31 years was now ready to be shared and I was ready to share it. I chose to bring my secret to the light. I wanted to celebrate It, and who I had become. I wanted to use It to help others – people like me, people who felt ashamed; men who felt embarrassed, and women who felt ugly. What was it after all of these years that was different that allowed me to go from feeling shame to wanting to love myself? I had made a choice to finally let go of the past. I chose to let go of the memories I experienced growing up. I chose to let go that I was called “freak” on a daily basis. I chose to let go that I was bullied in school.
Because here is the truth: those are all just that – memories. And memories are not what is happening in my life today. I’m no longer a little girl being made fun of, with no skills to stand up for herself. I am now a grown-ass woman who is proud of herself. I’m thrilled with who I’ve become and pleased that I’ve chosen to reveal my true self and my life living with trichotillomania.
So, I took a deep breath, exhaled, and I wrote my story. And had it published in The Huffington Post. Seeing it in the media, online, in color, in the world, I knew what I was meant to become – a feeling not to dissimilar to another moment in my life.
I remember the first time I was looking into my playroom mirror. I was studying my face. As a 7-year-old I was fascinated by all parts of my body, but especially my face. I am not sure what had me reach my hand up towards my eyes but I did. I began to feel my eyelashes between my fingers; the texture, the softness, the vulnerability of a single strand of hair . . . and then PLUCK. I pulled one out. There was something quite satisfying about that feeling; the power, the pain, something being created and destroyed all in a single moment. That was the moment that changed me, defined me, shaped me into the person I am today. It was that day that started my downward spiral.
Over the years I plucked the hair on my head, eyebrows and eyelashes. I have been through many stages and phases. Sometimes no one could tell a thing. Other times, I had no eyelashes no eyebrows, and the bald spots on my head were the size of a baseball. I hated looking in a mirror. I loathed myself. I knew I was different. And in those brief moments I felt normal, days I looked normal, there was always some kid, or worse some adult, to remind me who I really was. Different. Alone. Ashamed. It was dreadful.
I longed to have someone like me to talk to, cry with, to share the hurt and shame. Someone who would understand what I was going through. I wanted someone who would get it, get me, see me – the real me.
So here I am, writing a blog about trichotillomania. Here I am, a voice, for those not ready to speak up.
And that purpose, I spoke of is this:
I am here to let others know that they are perfect exactly like they are AND exactly like they are not.
I am here to listen and share my story.
I am here to be the person I always wished I had had in my life.
I am here to eradicate the shame around trichotillomania.
I am here to step into the shoes I was always meant to wear.
I am here to love myself and all of you.
I was meant to be a voice.
And today, I am here to be that voice, The Voice of Trichotillomania. [Tweet this quote!]
For those of us who like to hold on to a good story (I am one of those I speak of), I like to make the request to look in the present. Is that story happening now? If not, let it go. It really is that easy. Every person has mind chatter. If you think you do not have that voice I would like to ask you this as you are reading my words. Are you silently saying “I do not have a voice that speaks to me”. Well that would be the voice I am speaking of. For some that chatter can be quite destructive. It also allows us to live in our heads rather than in the moment. I request taking a break from the chatter that happens in our minds. A few tricks that have worked for me are the following and they have been the key for me to move forward, stay present, and love who I am.
- I close my eyes and take a few deep inhales followed by some even bigger exhales. Sometimes I even make a slight noise on the exhale.
- I do something I enjoy doing.
- When it says something I do not like I silently say “Thank you for your opinion but I do not agree so I would appreciate if you are quiet now.
- I remind myself in order to have the life that I love I need to listen to what I truly believe and not to what that little voice is telling me.
Photo credit: Sandy Rosenblatt
Sandy Rosenblatt graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in health and human development (family studies). She serves as Executive Director of an assisted living home, overseeing care and treatment for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. She also serves as Head of Client Services for Live Authentic DC, a space where you can discover how much richer and more thrilling it is to be yourself.
Sandy has worked with 14 different people from around the globe to put together a book sharing their experiences living with trichotillomania titled Doesn’t it Hurt?: Confessions of Compulsive Hair Pullers. It is the first of its’ kind on this topic. Their goal was to eradicate shame as well as have others feel like they are not in this alone. You may purchase the book from Amazon.
You can also follow Sandy on twitter at @Sandybeach28.
“I am here to let others know that they are perfect exactly like they are AND exactly like they are not.”
This is perfect.
Thank you for this. I only “came out” with it last year on my old blog and the response was amazing. At least 1 person every day found that post by searching trichotillomania or hair-pulling. I wonder how many of us there are…
Funny how we remember the first time.
Thank you so much for taking the time to not only read but comment on my piece. I smiled from ear to ear that something that I wrote you saw as perfect.
According to statistics there a millions of us. It is amazing knowing that something that we share of ourselves can touch others. I can only imaging the responses you got to your blog.
I never thought about it before but you are correct. It is funny how we never forget our first time.
I think i’m gonna cry.
This is just so different than the others books about thricotillomania, they make me feel like i was insane. This story teach me one thing that make me smile: I’m not the only one with this problem. I’m not a monster or something like that. Thank you, please never stop writing.
You’re so brave…