“Daddy where’s her hair?”
“Hey look, that girl is bald!”
“You have a very nice shaped head.”
“Well at least there’s no lumps!”
“You look like GI Jane”
“Mr. Crebbin’s twin!?”
So I lost my hair. Most of you know this by now. But I want to share the experience with you, the truth about losing your hair.
The moment you realize you are going to lose your hair is traumatizing. I mean at first the experience is kind of what you’d imagine, or what you see on TV. Everything you do makes your hair fall out. When you sleep you wake up with hair all over your pillow, when you put clothes on you have hair all over your front and back, when you try to brush it or put it up, you end up with fistfuls and a sink covered in…hair. It’s annoying, it’s terrifying, it’s devastating, and you can’t control it. So I watched as my hair went from luscious, thick locks, to Smeagle stringy strands. Bald spots came through and it aged me. So I decided to shave it off.
I had a certain numbness as I watched the hip hairstylist shave away the remnants of my hair. I didn’t cry, but I wasn’t okay with it. I stared at myself in the mirror, once again unable to recognize the woman sitting in front of me. I posted a photo immediately after stating that I was free. I must clarify though, I was free from the agony of losing my hair in giant chunks throughout the day, but I wasn’t free from the insecurity of being a bald woman.
The first few days without hair were spent at the doctors, I felt, for the first time, like I belonged there. I felt like a true cancer patient. I walked the halls feeling this weight of illness, like everyone saw me as I truly am, a sickly, weak, dying cancer patient. I immediately put myself in the box that we all put every bald cancer patient in. I felt a new identity, I felt pitied. It only got worse when I went to public places like the airport. I could feel the heat of strangers staring at me. I imagined what they were saying in hushed tones. I stared at the floor, I made no eye contact, and I only focused on my furry new head. I hated how I looked, I hated seeing myself in the mirror, I hated passing by my reflexion and seeing an empty space where my bouncy curls used to be. I hated that I had no choice, that no matter what I did my hair couldn’t be saved.
I tried a wig. I wore it on the second leg of my flight to try and blend in. I felt almost worse. I felt like I was wearing a disguise and everyone new it. I didn’t feel like a bad ass secret agent, I felt ashamed, more like a criminal wearing a different identity to escape. I know it must sound crazy. I mean here I have had countless surgeries leaving me swollen and scarred. Here I have had angry red lumps and black nasty stitches, and I really was okay. I’m not sure that I can totally pin point why this was so different for me. Maybe because it seems so pointless. Maybe because it feels like I was robbed whereas I agreed to the scars. Maybe it’s because the scars were symbols of healing and losing my hair just seemed like it only symbolized sickness. Maybe because it’s true that hair is a woman’s pride. All I know is, it’s hard.
So how did I get to where I am right now? Making jokes about being bald and choosing that over my wigs and scarves? How can I look in the mirror now and not burst into tears? Or speak to someone with confidence without looking down?
It started when I was preparing to see my husband. I was absolutely terrified. We had been apart for 2 weeks and I was shaking at the thought that our reunion would be me sporting my new “cancer do”. I imagined all the things he would think, I imagined him being disgusted and un-attracted to me. I knew of course that he’d never make me feel bad or say these things outlaid, but I imagined what would happen in his mind. So, when I first saw him, I wore my wig. But the moment I had to pull off my disguise, to reveal the real me, it was like a picture of the gospel. My oh my. Bear with me. Here I was covering what I thought was a HUGE flaw. I was terrified to show it because I felt unlovable. Don’t we do that with God? Try to present ourselves in this nice little disguise? Put a wig on our sins or flaws or past because we feel unlovable? Well lemme tell you something. When I took my wig off to expose my bald head to my husband, I broke down in a guttural cry. You know why? Because he looked at me with tears and said, “I love you so much, you are a true beauty.” And I knew in my soul that he meant it. All those things I made up in my mind, all my reasoning and justification for being unlovable. The ugliness and hatred I felt toward my flaw, was completely accepted by my true love. And that’s the gospel kids. Because the unconditional love that Adam showed me when I felt my ugliest, is the unconditional love that God shows us when we are our ugliest. When we take off that wig before God, He doesn’t look at us with disgust, or think we are so ugly and beyond lovable. No, He looks at us and says, “I love you so much, you are a true beauty.”
So it doesn’t matter what the world thinks, or says, or what whispers I hear, or what lies I tell myself. I am loved, and I am loved despite my ugliest parts. I AM LOVED PEOPLE! I am loved by the creator of the flipping’ universe! So I will flaunt this bald head of mine and I will walk in my true identity, as a daughter of the King! Heck yeah! Take that!