I still remember the moment, like it was yesterday, when at 8 years old my mother took me into the laundry and told me my sister was going to die.
I kind of already knew that, she’d been sick for years, since she was 4. I’d even been tested to be a bone marrow transplant. I was still not prepared for the day I woke up and she was just gone. My darling sister, only 16 months older than me, my best friend, had disappeared from the world, and my life.
A few months later another devastating event happened. I also remember that like yesterday. I remember looking down at my desk and there was suddenly hair everywhere. The girl sitting next to me very loudly pointed out I now had a bald patch. What followed were years of doctors visits, trips to the nearest city 2000 km away to see a procession of alternative specialists, I even got experimented on with some liquid that caused my scalp to turn into a mass of pus and sores. Apparently it was supposed to ‘reactivate’ my hair follicles but the patch on my arm they also tested it on never, ever grew back its hair. My mother was horrified. She had just lost one daughter to leukemia and now a second daughter had this mysterious disease they blamed on ‘stress’. More like acute trauma!
This disease, called Alopecia, has been used by physicians dating back to Hippocrates, originates from the Greek word for fox, “alopex,” and was so-named due to fur loss seen in fox mange.
It felt like a curse. I got teased, bullied and ostracized by the other kids. This continued throughout my 20’s and 30’s. It was such an unknown disease and I was made fun of so much that my self-esteem was practically non-existent. Through years of scarves and wigs – wigs that were pulled off my head in class by horrible boys chanting ‘Wigwoman’ or ‘Wigwam’, I believed I was a freak. I fell into toxic relationships and suffered domestic violence. I became a single mother and while I put myself through college for 7 years part-time, and attained a Business Degree with double majors in Accounting and Marketing, I couldn’t shake that belief.
In my late 20’s I discovered a company that made silicon based wigs that molded to the head so they didn’t fall off in a stiff breeze. The only thing I couldn’t do in them was swim underwater. It sounds like that was a good thing right? At times I believed it was. Looking back now I see it differently because that was the point where I finally looked ‘normal’ but that started me carrying this big secret around.
That secret, so important to me because I craved ‘normality’ to no longer be that freak, stopped me being authentic, stopped me connecting with people and I lost my true self.
The years that followed saw me stay single and the only relationship I had was at a time when my hair had grown back. It used to fall out, grow back and fall out again. Not all of it, patches that made me feel even more like a weirdo or freak. I think if it had just all fallen out and never come back I could have come to terms with it earlier. I was stuck on this rollercoaster of hope and despair from the cycle.
As I neared my 40’s more and more fell out until I just had a couple of patches of hair left. To wear the silicon wigs meant that they had to be shaved off daily or they wouldn’t ‘stick’ properly. It hurt and I remember one day looking at myself in the mirror, tears in my eyes and telling the Universe “Enough! Either in or out I am done with this!” Within a month it had all fallen out.
Then at 39 I met and fell in love with another toxic man. It was a tumultuous relationship, always completely in love or the opposite where we couldn’t stop fighting. However this man taught me the greatest lesson of my life. He taught me to stop caring about what other people thought, said or did. What a release!
It took me a couple of years to stop wearing wigs and hats. I remember the first time I went out bald. I was with him and we were at a fish shop. I was so sure everyone would be whispering behind my back at the freak. That was when he leant down and whispered in my ear, “no-body is even looking babe”. Freedom!
It took a couple more years to be comfortable always going out bald and I wore my wigs occasionally. It was so much easier with him because he was bald too, we were a matching pair. With practice I eased out of my old comfort zone and built a new one.
Fast forward a little and we divorced. It was devastating to lose what I knew was my great love but we just couldn’t get it together and one of the main reasons I will own up to. So many years of being treated like a freak had made me unable to communicate or trust intimacy. Added to his toxic behavior it was a no-win situation and I finally had to admit defeat and give up on us.
That was the best move I could’ve made for myself. Through my grief of losing my great love I also opened those old wounds and I feel like I cried for a year non-stop! I started real personal development, all on my own as I still didn’t want to be vulnerable with anyone other than the two close friends who’d stood by me.
Then I met the amazing Rhonda Swan, through my son who was by now an adult. I read her book and then went to Bali to support his first speaking role at Rhonda’s retreat. That event inspired me to find my purpose, to not be afraid and to start talking online about my experiences. I became the “Baldwarrior”, fierce, unafraid and unapologetic and I started inspiring other people, men, women and children to accept their Alopecia and learn that they are not their hair! I even tattooed my head so I loved it more, my baldness became a work of Art.
In January 2020, I found another amazing woman online, Daisy Papp, who was to become my podcast partner. She was the one I’d been looking for and manifesting when I decided in 2019 I wanted to do a mindset podcast to help more people around the world.
Well, we have! We now reach listeners in 82 countries, are in the top 2% of podcasts listened to, produce more content than 97% of other podcasters in our category of Self-Improvement and we have won three awards for our work. We are about to launch season seven and we are introducing video for the first time so our listeners can now also see us! I have big plans for 2023 – inspiring more people around the globe to use mindset tools to empower themselves and have more fulfilling relationships and lives.
I’d like to invite you to join the family! You can find us on any podcast platform and now on YouTube as well. The moral of the story – flip how you think about your biggest struggle and make it your Superpower!
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