Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shedding More than My Lovely Locks, Part Three


This is Part Three of a three-part blog series taken from Chapter 6 of my book, "Despite Lupus". This chapter, titled "Loosening Your Grip", focuses on re-evaluating your expectations and goals. In doing so, you may discover that your self-image is dangerously entangled in your career, accomplishments, or appearance, all of which may be forced to change due to your disease.

After my hair appointment, I went home to show Johnny my new ‘do. He absolutely loved it! He thought I looked like a sophisticated model from a magazine, and immediately insisted that we have an impromptu photo shoot in the back yard. The loving, enthralled look he had on his face as he shot those pictures made me feel like I was the most beautiful woman in the whole world. He was always telling me I was, but I will forever cherish the captivated way in which he embraced me and my new haircut that day. After shooting a few pictures, he proudly sent them off via email to some family members, who all responded with complimentary remarks.

I continued to receive the same kind of feedback during the next few days from friends and co-workers. While people were decidedly remarking on the haircut, I know they were also responding to the evident changes in my persona. Gone were my feelings of humiliation and self-consciousness, boldly replaced with confidence, composure and dignity. I was no longer ashamed or embarrassed by what Lupus had done to me. I could discuss the effects and symptoms I’d suffered without hesitation, because in the same breath, I could speak of the steps I was taking to manage its fallout. I was showing the world that while Lupus may have taken my hair, it wouldn’t rob me of my vitality, my spirit, or my spunk.

Within weeks of getting my haircut, I courageously began considering what other aspects of my life might benefit from such an overhaul. To begin with, I reviewed and dismissed all of the outdated and unrealistic expectations I had created for myself. The vision I had of myself consisted of a woman with thick, dark hair, a multi-tasking, driven, perfectionist attitude, and a flourishing, thriving, demanding career. If my hair was no longer an identifying mark, was I mistakenly defining myself by these other things, too? As I established new and relevant goals for myself, I based them upon what I could do, what I wanted to do, and what I needed to do to feel good, inside and out. I concentrated on making decisions that wouldn’t just perpetuate my life, but that would improve it.

The days and weeks after I got my haircut marked the beginning of my new life with Lupus. The dramatic, positive changes that took place during those months extended into years, and continue today. Still, I strive each day to maintain the healthy lifestyle that I’ve become accustomed to. While the decisions I’m faced with haven’t diminished completely, they have gotten easier. Living well isn’t something I have to work hard to achieve anymore. Today, it just comes naturally.

Thinking about cutting your hair short, either by choice or by force? Check out this article about short hair to do's - it will remind you how chic, hip and stylish you can be, with or without long locks!

2 comments:

Lauren said...

Just wondering how long after going to the dermatologist and him telling you that there was new hair growth, your hair stopped falling out? Was it gradual or did it just stop in a day or two or a week?

Sara Gorman said...

Lauren - I can't remember exactly when the fall out started to subside, but it was definitely gradual. Without a doubt. I do remember that my hair was continuing to fall out the day I went to the doctor...and I figured he was going to ask me to do a hair count. But, I assume because it was so obvious that I had lost a majority of my hair, and because he started to see growth, he didn't think it was necessary. I do remember the loss just getting less, and less, and less, until one day, I just realized there wasn't any hair on my pillow in the morning (or so little that it felt normal). I hope that day is around the corner for you!