It's so funny how God works - everything has its own time and only He knows when the time is right. God comes along and says "OK, you're ready to receive this change and grow." I don't always want these changes. And sometimes, I have been praying for them for years and wondered why they were taking so long to happen. My journey from AA to AU started at four. Bald spots and thinning were a part of my life pretty much every spring of my childhood. I had no idea though, that ALL the hair on my head could fall out. My family knew, but no one informed me because they didn't want to think about it - No way THAT was going to happen. I think they wanted to protect me too. Why make a child carry a bigger worry then she already is? However, not being told was the worst thing that my family could have done. I will always remember the day that I was washing my hair...I rubbed in the shampoo and took my hands away from my head to turn on the faucet to wash the shampoo out. My hands were literally covered up in hair. TERROR!! No other word for it. I screamed for my mom, thinking that maybe I was dying. What was wrong with me??? OH MY GOD!!! My parents both responded and I found out the true. I was only 13. You know, that awkward and sometimes just plain horrible age where you desperately want to be accepted and want the boys to think you are prettier than the other girls in your school. Yes, you know it. I already didn't feel pretty before that, now, how could I think I was pretty completely bald?? My parents, bless their hearts, didn't know how to deal with it. No one in my family did. No one talked with me, no one comforted me - not even as a child - and I believed that I must be embarrassing to them. I was so ashamed of who I was. And I felt like a freak at school. The only girl with a wig. Some of my peers could tell. I was a wallflower, shy and didn't like to have attention drawn to me. This only made me want to crawl into a hole, never go to school. Could anyone accept me? It's hard to believe you can be accepted when you don't accept yourself. And so these thoughts continued, and as I went through my teens, I was sure no man could ever think I was pretty. Who would want me???
By 19 I had lost all my head hair three times. I could make it grow back, but couldn't stop it from falling out again. Too traumatic. No more. I stopped forcing it to grow and just gave up. By 21, I had also lost all my body hair and my eyebrows. My eyelashes fell out in patches but always grew back. I prayed and prayed and begged and begged God to help me accept myself. To help me feel peace about being bald. I worked so hard to try to force the lies out of my head. Looking back, I know that God was at work then; chipping away of all those onion layers, but the lies had been planted years before and had lots of time to take root and grow. Weeds don't uproot quickly. So, somewhere in my twenties - I gave up on these prayers and just went on.
Now, back to prayers taking years to be answered...Last year I was again face to face with my desperate desire to be accepted and my nearly paralyzing fear that I was ugly and unworthy. I was dating a guy that I really liked. I knew it was time to tell him and it took all my courage, and the extra courage God gave me too, to tell him. He asked me a question that hit me square between the eyes. He asked me if I had accepted the Alopecia. I had to say NO! I had not accepted that I HAVE AU. Nor had I accepted that I was lovable and beautiful without hair. I had stuffed those thoughts somewhere far back in my mind and here they were, asking me to try to face them again. They said, "Come on Kel, give it another shot. You know it's time."
God knows what we are ready for and when, and He had been preparing me for that Ah Ha moment. Almost two years ago, I connected with a group of very accepting and spiritual people who helped me accept myself in other areas. I got my anxiety disorder under control last July and that calmed my negative thoughts tremendously. Also, I chose to open a door that I had stubbornly closed many years before - choosing to return to school for a masters. I had to peel these onion layers first in order to have the courage to face my demon again. Now I was open minded and prepped. I saw an article last fall in a local paper about Bald Girls Do Lunch. I had missed the lunch, but there was a picture of one of the attendees without a wig on. I don't remember exactly how it happened, but I found out Yvonne is on Facebook. I emailed her and heard back from her about a month ago. She told me about AW. I had also joined NAAF and was in touch with another woman through their site.
I got on NAAF and AW and remembered that I AM NOT ALONE. And I am in contact with women who are married, engaged or have boyfriends - men really do accept this!! I am in contact with people who are on my journey and honest about their challenges - and some seem to have accepted their AU. I am now coming to accept mine for the first time!!! I know there are more layers in this AU onion, but now I am moving forward. Maybe I really am pretty. Maybe it's ok to be bald. I DO have a condition I cannot control. I now see that once I started to accept myself, I could start to accept that I have AU. I am finding that in accepting myself, I am not so terrified that others may find out. It's not as big a secret as it was before. I am feeling the beginning of relief and inner peace. I feel some of that weight dropping off my shoulders...and the hissing of the demons are getting further and further away. Eventually, I believe to be silenced. Until then, I am grateful and will continue to fight this good fight!!