“What we look like matters less than what we do in this life” Sarah Robles, 2016 Weightlifting Olympian.
MyFitFamily has always been about the fitness of the heart. Yes, I have posts about recipes and fitness. And I will always love to run and work out….to see and feel myself getting stronger. But if I were to say what MyFitFamily means to me–it would be all heart. Am I growing, forgiving others and asking for forgiveness, loving, chasing dreams, being an encourager, setting a good example to my daughters what a kind and decent woman looks like? Am I showing my sons what a woman looks like who loves her husband–without bitterness, resentment…all heart? And am I being brave and sharing this with the world in the way God has made me–not with speaking–but with writing?
My journey with alopecia has grounded me and more than ever I truly believe those words above by Sarah Robles.
I continue to lose more hair and I wonder when and if I’ll be completely bald. Because losing my hair is completely out of my control. And every time in my life I’ve faced where I cannot control a situation–I’m reminded I’m not meant to walk this earth alone. Sometimes I pray that the hair loss will stop. But the thing Alopecia reminds me to do is to ask for God’s comforting presence.
Holy Spirit you are welcome here. These lyrics have been my mantra since discovering my body is attacking itself. Because as with any autoimmune disease when you are being held hostage by your own body–you feel helpless. And I can’t stop it. So I sing, pray, and cry out to God: You are welcome here. Right here in this heart of mine.
Since I discovered I have alopecia there have been days I completely forget that it’s there, that bald spot that was the source of so much pain in my heart a few months ago. There are days when my hand wanders, finds it and sighs, it’s still there. There are days I can feel that spot throbbing–and I know what that means, I’m losing more hair. Because some of us with alopecia can actually feel what can be described as a tingle or in my case a throbbing pressure in the area where I’m losing hair. There are days I feel pretty. And there are days when I curl up trying to make myself small and disappear from this thing–my own self attacking my body. There are days when I strain to see it with a mirror carefully angled behind my head while looking into another mirror—finally asking my daughter to take pictures of it for me. Trying not to break in front of her so I don’t scare her with this thing that has become a part of my life. And as I scroll through the pictures I can feel my tears betraying me so I quickly ask her to leave as I sit on the floor, shaking my head in denial as I see, it’s growing. If you were to peek into my house at that moment you’d feel the desperation radiating from my body as I plead silently–please stop.
And you would also sense my shame. For being so upset by this thing that isn’t life threatening. And I tell myself, the very words I ask you to never tell someone with alopecia: It’s just hair. And I get angry as I tell myself louder: It’s just hair. Not something that will take me from my family. Just hair. And I get ashamed for even writing this blog post.
But most times? There is just life. Mothering, running, loving my husband and children, cleaning, writing, laughing, crying, arguing–life goes on.
And while I still wonder and yes, even worry, about how much hair I’m losing–watching helplessly as strands slip through my fingers, piles found on the seat of my car or on the floor in my bathroom, I know I can’t stay in that place of worry. Instead, I remind myself of Sarah’s words: It’s what we do that matters. Not what I look like. While I’m usually in stinky workout clothes and a pony tail, there are other times where I put on regular clothes and put on makeup. And I feel pretty. But having alopecia has centered me in the truth that looking pretty isn’t the most important thing in my life.
100 mile finish line. Dreaming with my family by my side.
Instead, I look back on the things I’ve done. The dreams I have. The things I have yet to do. And I know that is the legacy I will leave when all things are said and done. Not my baldness. How I lived, not what I looked like, is what my life is about. It’s where my feet took me–scared, nervous, uncertain, sometimes bravely and other times timidly–what I do and how I live my life, welcoming God in my heart–that is what matters. It’s what I hope my children see.
I started writing this post in October. Life happened and I eventually stopped inspecting my bald spot. I continued getting painful injections into my scalp once a month but other than that, I stopped trying to will it from happening. And then a friend passed away in December. It was one of those moments that shakes you and helps you realize: what’s important. And what isn’t. Around that time my hair started growing back. While I’m so thankful to God for this, I know that if I lose it again, it doesn’t matter. It never really did.