October 5, 2015
Disclaimer again…this is all with Grace’s permission.
Just when you thought there wasn’t anything else about My Gorgeous that could surprise you, I’m gonna surprise you. Well maybe. You might have wondered. I mean, something was up with her.
The cutting was hard. Really hard to deal with. There’s something about the blood of your child spilled out and scars that fade but don’t go away. But there has been another struggle.
It started before the cutting. I guess it was around Christmas of 8th grade that we noticed Grace’s hair was lopsided. Her hair has been half way down her back and so thick. But the left side somehow lost about 6 inches of length. Grace had no explanation for it, but Paul and I knew Grace must have done something to her hair but just didn’t want to admit it. Just own it, Grace. You got scissor-happy with your hair and messed it up. If only.
Actually Grace was dealing with something we wouldn’t name for almost another year. Trichotillomania. It’s a compulsion to pull out her hair. It wasn’t until the next fall, when we learned about the cutting, that we pieced together what was happening to her hair. So the trich started before cutting. And it lasted longer. She was able to control the cutting more quickly but trich got the worst of her.
Remember the purple hair? Extensions. When her own hair was so so thin and bald spots were getting obvious, she needed extensions. She wanted purple because that’s just her personality. She rocked purple. The extensions worked well to disguise her bald spots for awhile, and she was going to counseling, but it wasn’t enough. I told her one day after church that I really felt like God was planning her victory over trich. She just looked at me so sad and said “it’s just getting worse.” She wanted a wig. Surely it couldn’t get that bad, could it? Surely she could beat trich before needing a wig. But she called me and Paul one day from school because she couldn’t handle it anymore. I picked her up from school early and she came home a sobbed on her dad’s shoulder. We ordered a wig online. Two day delivery. Long. Bangs. Brown. It arrived four days later. Long. Bangs. Platinum. Not what she wanted but spending time returning it and waiting for the correct one wasn’t an option. She rocked platinum.
But still it wasn’t enough. I try to make my hair look decent most days. But I’m not obsessed with it. If it’s a bad hair day, if it blow dries funky, if I don’t rinse out the conditioner completely, if it’s too windy or rainy, tomorrow will be better. But for Grace, tomorrow wasn’t going to be better. Everyday was a bad hair day. And being upset about that just made her feel worse about herself and made her pull more hair. Then she felt worse and would pull more hair. And even if she stopped completely, tomorrow would not be better. Do you get it? Stopping today meant it would still be months before she would have enough hair to go without a wig. And she would feel worse and pull more hair. Shame.
I hate Trichotillomania. I hate it like I hate cutting and depression. It sucks.
She told me once with her platinum wig that she wanted to just shave her head. Just start over with a clean slate. That sounded like defeat to me. That didn’t sound like the right way to beat this. Not to me. That didn’t sound like a good idea. Not to me. I but it wasn’t my struggle. Or her dad’s. But how could she master the skill of not pulling her hair if she didn’t have hair? Shaving is not a good idea. Not to me. But Grace felt like her strategy should be to get in the habit of not pulling hair and the best way to do that was to get rid of all of it. Bald. She rocked bald.
But it was hard. Emily wanted to talk to me in private one day. I figured it had to be to tattle on Lauren for something. Instead she told me she had seen Grace without her wig. “Mommie, does Grace have cancer?”
Just before the start of 11th grade, (started in 8th and she is now in 11th; this has wasted too much energy already) she wanted to order a new wig. Finally she got long. Bangs. Brown. And she rocks brown. A friend of hers sent her another wig just for fun. It’s the blond with pink tips. She rocks pink.
She was right, though. Bald was what she needed. It wasn’t my struggle. It worked for her. As her hair has started to grow, she lets it. It’s growing today. And that’s a big deal because a few months ago, she wasn’t letting it grow for even a day; she was pulling it everyday.
She is taking Cosmetology courses. She wants to do hair and makeup and nails. All the pretty stuff. She’s going to make somebody smile someday maybe by stenciling some eyebrows on a girl who has pulled all of hers out. Maybe she will do prom hair for the girl with cancer who just wants a pretty wig for a special night. Maybe she will do makeup to cover someone’s cutting scars. Maybe not. There’s beauty in scars.
And everybody is pulling for Grace. She has encouraged people with her story already. September was huge for her with her cutting story in Forsyth Family Magazine. So many people responded to Grace’s transparency. I mean, who does that? Would you have told your deep secret to a magazine when you were 16? This lady amazes me! Oh! SHE ROCKS!