Bless you alopecia, bless you for being in my life?

My husband has been working on material for a class on character that he is teaching at a prison. He found himself researching Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who spent 8 years in an unfathomable labor camp for writing a derogatory comment about their country's leader in a letter to a friend. Solzhenitsyn later went on to write the classic book - The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956 - and in 1970 received a Nobel Prize in Literature.

These two quotes from his book have been circling my mind over and over again this week.

“...And that is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: "Bless you, prison!"
"I... have served enough time there. I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: "Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!”

I am finding myself discovering lesson after lesson from these quotes.

Today I was thinking of it in relation to alopecia. Sometimes some of our most difficult periods are the ones that yield the most growth. We may not welcome alopecia, and we may not have wanted it in our lives. But what has it developed in our character?

I grew up so afraid of being different. All I wanted was to be like everybody else and liked. But losing my hair put me so far from my desires that I had no idea how I was going to make “this one” blend.

Somewhere along the way I learned how to be me. During the last 20 years I came to the realization that being “me” no longer requires me to grow a few inches of hair on my scalp. I didn’t understand this 20 years ago.

Similar (but no comparison) to Solzhenitsyn, the time without the hair has brought me to a clearer understanding of what it means to be Cheryl.

I came to the realization that what is added to me or taken away from me doesn’t change my essence. I remain Cheryl. For that alone I can say, “Bless you alopecia, bless you for being in my life.”

So, I ask. What about alopecia can make you possibly say… “Bless you alopecia, bless you for having been in my life.”

Views: 378

Comment by Tallgirl on November 24, 2011 at 3:15pm

Well, if not for alopecia...

;)

Comment by Bald and Fabulous AKA Terri on November 25, 2011 at 8:09pm

wow what you said struck a cord. I also only ever wanted to blend in....be one of many and never stand apart. Today because of my alopecia, not only do I stand out in a physical way but now I stand out for other reasons. I been told that I inspire them, I find the courage to step out of the box and do things that puts me out in a limelight. Creating awareness events, speaking out to groups and so on and finding that Im enjoying it. So thank you alopecia for helping me stand out from others when I thought I wanted to blend in.

Comment by Cheryl, Co-founder on November 26, 2011 at 8:16pm

Terri, I agree. I can thank alopecia for giving me a push towards "stand out" too. Isn't it funny how things work. The last thing I would have thought 20 years ago is that I would start an open forum about alopecia, and that I would be a catalyst for tens of thousands of people to come together and share their experiences. Just like Rosa Parks I am sure had no idea what just being tired and refusing to stand up was going to start, or the owner of facebook.... We never know what little action is going to ignite something larger than ourselves.

Comment by PaulJ on November 30, 2011 at 4:48am

Having alopecia from such an early age, I haven't really known any other way of life follically - I've grown up with it as a child, a teen, an adult, a parent, I've always been bald, end of story. I know it makes some people angry when I say that it made me who I am, but that is the way it is, Ive been bald all my life and because of it my life experience has been completely different to my friends. I don't really know any other way of life apart from being bald, hair, to me is something foriegn that I have no memory or desire to have. Without alopecia who would I be ? Im not blessed to have it as for some time it caused me great pain, but I am a better person for having it.

Comment by Cheryl, Co-founder on November 30, 2011 at 7:24pm

Hi Paul, your response is very real. Especially the part " I'm not blessed to have it as for some time it caused me great pain, but I am a better person for having it." I was 26, so I do remember life before alopecia. But at almost 47, I am coming close to having alopecia 1/2 of my life. I don't think of myself with hair anymore. That was not the case as first.

Comment by Karen Smith on December 1, 2011 at 9:19am

You have embraced your difficulty in life and made something more out of it. Life is about choices. We have had a rough couple of years as a family, just one of the issues is that our teenage daughter developed AU. She got on with her life with a great attitude and does not dwell on it. I came to the conclusion,"what is your story going to be?" Life deals you an unfair hand and how are you going to deal with it? Inspire others and find ways to help or just give up? The second is not an option.

Comment by BTB (John) on December 2, 2011 at 8:09am

I cant see why we have to suffer to improve ourselves its irrational to me hair falls out I just cant see what one learns from this lesson except that hair is pretty good to have on your head. I knew that before I went bald so the lesson was wasted on me.

Comment by Bald and Fabulous AKA Terri on December 2, 2011 at 10:40am

Actually it makes perfect sense to improve or change our ways of thinking or doing things when face with an adversity. Not just alopecia. If we didnt we would stagnate in life and never evolve. The is a wonderfully inspiring video done by Amiee Mullins about opportunity in adversity that I even posted here on AW. You should check it out.

Comment by Bald and Fabulous AKA Terri on December 2, 2011 at 10:41am
Comment by Bald and Fabulous AKA Terri on December 2, 2011 at 10:13pm

Lilybell your comment "nobody should be forced to grow stronger" is completely absurd to me. Everybody grows stronger when faced with an adversity. Whether its a move across county, a new job, a broken relationship and yes even an illness or disease. Its called LIFE. Its the choices we make when faced with an adversity and how we work our ways thru it then the adversities themselves. I prefer to take the bull-by-the-horns approach as oppose to letting them take over my life. In the instance of alopecia, I use the strength its taught me to spread awareness and give voice for those that cant. Im congratulated everyday for my strength and not because of alopecia but for showing that anyone can take an adversity in life and change it to a positive. And thats the key to life and making it your own
. Alopecia taught me that.

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