It's Hair Loss Support At Its Best
Just another bald woman. Well, I'm not entirely bald, but the few straggly remnants and the white mohawk weren't doing me any good. I got up the resolve to shave it off. The cleaned up look is definitely better, but my initial reaction was just sadness, as if I really had been kidding myself for the past months that my hair would grow back and be OK. Going from a little hair to no hair felt like a big step even if it didn't look like a big one on my scalp.
When I first envisioned myself as bald, all I could see was a tired, aging version of my older brother (who has plenty of hair by the way) on a bad day. Maybe I am more used to it now, maybe I actually look better, but I can look in the mirror now and see femininity. I hardly dare admit it, but I can see myself as pretty (at least at the right angle and with the lighting not too harsh, and probably I do need glasses). I was feeling like I could face the world without my head covered, but how quickly my confidence dissolves.
Too long after my hair became unworkable, I got a wig. I was thrilled. I could have hair. I could have beautiful hair. I could look vibrant and somehow both younger and more grown up (and at 46, I really ought to be fully in the realm of grown up). But I am a put my hair in a ponytail and ignore it because I am a mom of small kids and don't have time for hair much less anything else about my appearance kind of gal. I almost never wear makeup. I almost never wear high heels (Sacrifice comfort and function for fashion? Not me). A wig is not as comfortable as a soft cap. A wig itches, gets in the way, requires me to have a care when opening the oven to pull the popovers out. Two year olds wrap their fingers into your hair and tug hairlines disconcertingly askew. Wigs can make my head hurt. If I am going to pull my wig off as soon as I get home, then I am going to feel more comfortable, more myself, more genuine without one.
I feel like I need to be OK with being myself in the world without a wig. I'm just not able to completely dissociate needing to put on a costume to be seen from feeling like I have something to hide. It's not that I have been secretive about my hair loss. Pretty much everyone I interact with regularly knows. I didn't want the kids to think it was something to be ashamed of, and I didn't want anyone wondering if I was sick. I just want to be OK with being me, as I am, now.
I lack the confidence to feel secure about a choice to go wigless though. It is clear my husband prefers me with hair (and while I know this is in no way a deal breaker now, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been the sort to overlook baldness when we were dating, which makes me feel a bit like damaged goods). Should I wear a wig to please my husband? Should I wear a wig just because I can and because if you asked 20 random people almost certainly most if not all would say I was more attractive with a wig? Should I wear a wig so no one notices? Should I wear a wig so no one wells up with misplaced sympathy? Should I wear a wig because that is what a never-rock-the-boat, respectable housewife should do?
In some ways my life has been building toward a grand defiance of shoulds. But does that mean if I walk out into the world with my bare scalp, it would be an act of defiance and therefore somehow childish?
I long for someone in my life to tell me that it is OK, that I am beautiful, that I am adored, that hair makes not one whit of difference. If that won't be happening, is it selfish of me to be as I am?
How can I feel strong and worthy if I can't be comfortable in my own skin? I want my children to see me as a capable, confident, beautiful human and not as someone who hides or doesn't take care of herself.
A year ago I was just about to realize how much hair I had lost. Crazily enough, I didn't react to a few bald patches because I had had them come and go and be inconsequential for decades. I never saw a doctor or contemplated treatment. I was not surprised to have new spots and even expected them because I had gone through another pregnancy. So when I realized one day that all the hair on the nape of my neck was missing, I was shocked and went from pulling my hair into a ponytail without a thought to wearing lots of hats and never wearing a ponytail again. I believed my hair would grow back, but this time, it just kept falling out. I can't help but suspect that this was precipitated by the most stressful couple of years of my life. I had had stress for days or weeks or even months before, but the years of sleep deprivation combined with the challenges of caring for three small children really took their toll. In fact, a part of me saw it as only fitting that my hair was falling out. It was merely my outside showing what the inside was like. And maybe that is part of my struggle now, trying to match my outside to my inside when I'm not quite sure who I am right now.