Hair. Everyone has it. Short, long, straight, wavy, fine, thick, colored, grey. Some people have their “signature” style. Others are experimental, always switching it up. Often, it reflects a person’s personality. Or for some, it reflects inherited features (or a lack thereof).
For me, at forty, I guess you could say I have a certain style. (Well my sister, who owns her own salon, would say I have a boring style, but I digress…). I’m not one of the “switch-it-up” types, really; that’s not my personality. I’m used to how I wear and style it. I’m used to how thick it is, how long it takes to wash and dry. I’m used to how it feels when I run my hands through it, when I hold it in a pony altogether, and when I let it fall loosely against my bare shoulders.
What I’m NOT used to, however, is losing it.
It’s not uncommon for everyone to lose some hair every day. Particularly when washing, hair comes out. And when your hair is longer, as mine is, it’s noticeable at the bottom of the drain. But over the last month or so, the amount I’ve been losing has been steadily increasing. As you may have noticed by the photo with this post, the amount I’m losing as of now closely resembles a small forest animal. To say it’s unsettling is an understatement.
Causes of rapid hair loss run the gambit. For women, it can be anything from stress to thyroid issues to sudden dietary changes to bodily system trauma, and on. In my case, it is likely related to the shock to my body combined with the lack of nutrition experienced with my appendectomy/infection back in December (explained more fully here). Upon discussion with my med contacts, it’s the likely culprit. My naturopath actually likened it to the way animals react to severe sudden stress; they rapidly shed all their hair. Only they don’t freak out about it the way humans do, because it’s part of their normal cycle. It seems more acceptable when you think of it in those terms, though it’s still a little harder to accept for me, personally.
As I mentioned, I’m used to my hair. I like my hair. I’m fond of how I look with my hair. I’ve been trying to accept that we’ve resolved the reason for it falling out, and I’m fairly okay with that. But it’s not slowing down. And while I can see some regrowth in it, it doesn’t regenerate nearly as fast as I’m losing it. And I’m concerned with what I may see in the mirror a month from now. When I sit with that thought too long, I’m most certainly NOT okay with that.
All emotion aside, there is no arguing the reality I can see in front of me every day. My body has changed significantly over the last two months; I am continuing to heal. It is a process; and my hair, or current lack thereof, is a strong reminder of that. I am also reminded that embracing change is much easier than fighting against it. Which is why today I visited the salon for a much needed cut and re-style. Instead of hanging on to the old damaged hair that is quickly losing ground, I opted instead to cut a lot of it off and work more closely with the newer hair coming in. I was surprised how much I like my shorter, cleaner bob; it actually looks more like “me” than my older style.
When I think about it, though, I’ve been sinking into this newer “me” for a while now. Newer, starker, thinner, more awake to life, less hair, more clarity, me. No, I am certainly not my hair; but there are similarities. Because in a lot of ways, I am also color and thickness and curl and length and growth. Sometimes, I lose myself and fall. But I always find my way back.