When I was younger, I had the most incredible hair.
I didn’t have much going for me. Who am I kidding…I didn’t really have ANYTHING going for me. I was overweight. Totally uncool. I wasn’t pretty. I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t the kind of person anyone would ever want to be. I didn’t have a bubbly, warm personality. I was so shy, I was invisible. I was different. Odd. An outcast.
It was thick. Long. To my waist. Glossy. The kind of hair that made others envious. It was a really lovely color of ash blonde. Straight. Beautiful. Thick. I got comments about my hair everywhere I went. Restaurants. School. Work. Stores.
It was a standout feature. My only standout feature.
Because otherwise, I was plain. Fat. Dumpy. Not at all desirable.
When you are nothing, having one feature that makes you special is something to hold on to. It’s something that sets you apart. It’s something that makes you okay in a very small way, even when everything else about you puts you in the plain, worthless and unwanted category.
When you’re nothing, you take what you can get. And you’re thankful for whatever little scrap comes your way.
I was nothing, except for my hair. It was all I had. It was the only thing that made me a real person.
Well into my 40’s my hair was the one thing that caused me to be noticed. It was the one thing for which I received compliments. It was the only reason I was pretty at all. I cut it shorter, though I kept it mid-back in length. I colored it, permed it, stopped perming it but continued to color it, layered it. Trying to fit in. But regardless of what I did, it was still thick, shiny and beautiful.
It was the only thing that made me okay.
I don’t know what happened. But something did. Age. Weakened immune system. ED. Stress. Extreme distress. Isolation. It took a toll. On my hair. Thinning. Darkening. Texture change. Graying. My one asset disintegrated. Evaporated. It seemed to happen overnight. I noticed it when my hair became frizzy and wavy. Then it started falling out in handfuls. Then it lost it’s beautiful gloss. Suddenly, the only thing I had ever had going for me was gone.
Gone. As if it never was.
Which is why it’s so hard now. Now that my hair is not…special. Now that nothing about me is special. Now that nothing about me is notable. Now that nothing likely ever will be.
My hair is thin. It’s brittle. It’s short. Well, short by my standards. Below shoulder length, but not long; not long like I want it to be. And I have a lot of gray. Gray that I color every few months. To try to appear a little younger. A little more vibrant. The texture has changed, and not in a good way. It’s coarse. I battle split ends. I take vitamins and use shampoo to promote growth and health, but my hair continues to fall out at an alarming rate. By the handful.
Suddenly, it’s not special in even one small way. I’m not special in even one small way.
I know. I was never really special. But my hair was. Once. It wasn’t just normal; it was extraordinary. It made me appear acceptable, even when I wasn’t. Now, I can’t even pretend to be human. I can’t pretend to not be completely abnormal. I can only hope I don’t go bald. And become even more of a freak than I am already.
I can’t hide behind my hair anymore. And it can no longer hide me. Or make me acceptable.
In fact, instead of gaining ground, I seem to be losing. Losing ground. Losing hair.
When will it end? Will it end?
I used to have great hair…