I shared the post below at the beginning of the year on the UK Alopecia site. Was reading it again a few minutes ago. Wow, what a year it has been. 2010 has certainly been the year i finally made peace with living with Alopecia. I voluntarily left full time paid employment at the end of last year and decided i wanted to spend this year on a journey of self-inquiry, integration and rediscovery. What a journey, what a ride! I have finally learnt to love and accept myself unconditionally and certainly healed the shame that bound me for such a long time. In reading the post just now, i was tempted to edit here and there as it no longer reflected my feelings today, but what i have learnt this year is that there is no need to censor my past, for the past brought me to where i am today and i love, deeply love, where i am......
"I developed alopecia when i was 10, i am now 41. The years have flown by and it still feels just like yesterday. It started in patches, like with most people and then a friend of my mum suggested she shave it all to make it grow back all at once, it never did. I remember going into school on the Monday and by the end of that week, the profile of the people i hung out with had changed - one friend had told me that her parents told her not to play with me as she might catch what i had. During that week, my mum gave me my first cap which was to be a feature in all my photos for 8 years - Life was never the same since.
Never really talk about the fact that i live with alopecia and in fact growing up if someone asked me about it, i would immediately exclude them from my life. So as you can imagine i am now surrounded by people who've never asked me about it. When people do ask me now, i do tell them and i am conscious of my feelings of shame as i try to articulate my words. On the odd occasions when i have dated and a partner asked, i tell them i shave! Explaining the eyebrows is always difficult! Have not had a relationship now for years as i just feel so flawed and broken - sounds silly as i write it, and intellectually i know this - but deep in my belly i do feel that no one would really want to be with me.
Cannot remember ever having a day when i have not thought about alopecia. I'd like to think that after living with this condition for over 30 years, i'd be okay about it. But the fact is i am still as insecure as ever about it and feel tremendous shame; dealing with being gay and black has been a stroll in the park in comparison.
When i was younger, i could not wait to grow up as i thought i'd grow into my bald look; which in fairness i have - but now if only i did not have these feelings of shame, ugliness and being unlovable. One tactic i did develop was to try and find ways to compensate, so i focussed on my career and have done pretty well, also became a people pleaser - so on the outside everything looks perfect and meeting me you'd not even guess i have all the 'issues' i talk about. That tactic has become so tiring and i don't want to play that game anymore.
Growing up i went with my mum from clinic to clinic, name the rememdy we tried it - name the church or ritual we went there or did it. I wore a cap all through high school, somehow survived the bullying and name calling. In my early 20's wore a wig - God, what was i thinking! But my mum had thought it would be a good idea.
Anyway, it's a new year and it time to face my demons and deal with my stuff. I used to put life on hold waiting until my hair grew back, i no longer do that as much; but i am conscious that i still need to accept and embrace all of me, warts and all.
Well, here's to an authentic 2010!"