I AM My Hair
As women, we are often told that our hair is our crowning glory. It's something we spend a tremendous amount of time on. We determine the look of the day so to speak by our hair trends. When I was a teenager, if my Mom told me to take the trash out after I'd put curlers in my hair, I would go into the bathroom and remove all the curlers before taking the trash out. What we look like often involves our hair.
We have been conditioned to believe the longer the better,the straighter the better. So as a chocolate chick, there was already a dilemma because of my hair texture. Even getting a job with natural hair could be a challenge so early on I started wearing a relaxer and perms. (Yes, there is a difference). When I was in my late 20's I opted for tiny braids that made my hair look really full but were heavy to my hair follicles but when it comes to braids, many of us ignore the signs that we are permanently damaging our hair. I was no exception.
I loved the braids until I could no longer ignore the issue they were causing. Next came lace front wigs. I started wearing these even before some of the celebrities. When I learned about them, they were not quite so mainstream. My very first one I had to save for, it was roughly $4,000, They shed and wear out eventually which means it would have to be replaced to the tune of another $4,000. I was pretty darned happy when they became mainstream and the prices came down to be a lot more manageable. Building a professional Real Estate career meant I could not go running around looking any crazy kind of way and expect to be taken seriously. My hair was a big part of looking the part. I really love the lace wig because it looks like the hair is growing from your scalp so not many people know you are wearing a wig unless you tell them.
Then I got an ugly diagnosis. I was told I had an incurable disease called Lupus. This was scary and it turned my entire life upside down. It causes things to happen to your body that even medications cannot stop. Recently, I went to the doctor because my limbs were not working properly and my vision was doing strange things. I got a scary prognosis from my doctors, even scarier than the initial diagnosis. They told me that there was a possibility that my blood supply was not reaching my brain and it was shutting my body down in an effort to protect it. Well, this is not good news by any stretch of the imagination. I processed this information for over a week before I shared it with my family because more tests were required and I didn't want to worry them needlessly. An appointment with the neurologist, she looked at my numbers and confirmed that this was a real possibility and we scheduled an MRI/MRA. This was when I shared the news with my family and we cried, considered what this meant and waited. During this time, there was the discussion of final arrangements because it needed to be had. My children were beside themselves and I was on the opposite side of the world trying to make jokes to lighten the news. They weren't having it.
When I went to get the MRI the technician told me I'd be in the machine for 20 minutes. After 2 minutes she came out and turned the machine off. I thought "did I pass out" Oh its much worse than I thought! She let me know it had not been 20 minutes but wanted to know if "this is your real hair?" She was very delicate in asking a question the machine had already given her an answer to. I told her no, it was a wig. In the States, they'd asked before if I would remove it and my response was always no. This time, the situation being what it was, I of course complied with removing it.
My embarrassment or stressful feeling wasn't in taking it off, it was in this little Thai lady trying to help me put it back on so I didn't look crazy leaving the hospital. That stayed with me the rest of the day. Then, for those of you who don't know, lupus causes hair loss. So, while I had no side edges due to the damage from braiding, I had plenty of hair elsewhere. I'd been holding on to it because....well psychologically it was my crowning glory even if no one else was seeing it. Yet, when I would shower and shampoo and watch handfuls of it hit the floor, it was stressful and depressing. When I came back from the hospital, I sat down and looked at what causes me stress, I looked at WHO caused me stress. I reviewed a lot of things and I decided that I would no longer worry about things I could not control and the things I could control, I would do just that. I would make them bend to my will and make it so they would not cause me anxiety, stress or depression. I would do and say things that brought me and others joy, if it caused me stress and worry and it was something I could eliminate, then I would do just that. Quite a bit has changed in the past month or so.
I whipped out my scissors and chopped all of my hair off and decided I would no longer wear the wigs. In theory, this was awesome, I all of a sudden experienced a great fear. However, I could not bring myself to put the wig back on and that was obviously a very real option. So instead, I debuted what I started calling my gift wraps for my noggin. It got laughs from some, compliments from others and it solved a problem for me....for a little while.
After a month or so of wearing these wraps, I realized that they were not only their own form of maintenance (is it so tight that I will end up with a headache, will they match what I have in my wardrobe, will they remain on in certain situations and how to tie them without looking crazy...failed at that last one a few times but it was funny and I've had my fair share of headaches this last month or so). I am a person who just will NOT be ruled by fear. I live my life recognizing the things that scare me and going toe to toe with them. So, I went and got an "official" haircut and here I share my new look. Posting this next picture has me freaked out but its like that band-aid, you can ease it off causing more pain or just rip it off and get it over with. Here's me ripping it off and getting it over with. I will say this (stalling) that God gave me the perfect shaped head for this look. I will not allow hair to stress me out, it was something I could control so I did. No more fear, no more stress of it falling out, no more hair. I started this post saying I am my hair, I'd like to end it by simply saying I AM.