Mother with Alopecia is unable to contain her secret about her hair loss condition.
First let me say that I would be grateful if you could respond to me offline and not post this, but I understand if you’re not allowed to do so and have to share my story. I have naturally changed all names, but even writing it down feels like a mask has been pulled off my head. I am 45 and a mother of two boys (ages 5 and 9); I have a great husband who provides and cares for us like we are gold. We have it all together on paper and appearances to the outside world. Only one of my girlfriends even knows that I am bald, and that’s because we go back so many years. Oh, also my husband, who doesn’t have issues about it except that I go out of my way to guard the secret like Fort Knox. He says it’s exhausting and that for him it’s like a part-time job and he’s an employee who has to keep the secret from our boys. Alopecia areata — you’ve probably heard the story a million times, so I can spare you the details. The only truth I can say with certainty is that I have kept it a secret from nearly everyone I know. To the outside world I’m Veronica with great hair.
In the past two weeks the plot and lie have thickened. My 5-year-old has now seen me without my hair. Big mistake on my part. I was lazy, didn’t cover my tracks. The details are not important. He was pretty freaked. So was I. What came next is making it all seem like a big nightmare: He’s drawing pictures in school of our family — with me without hair. He’s telling people he has two mommies —a bald one and one with hair — but that they’re really the same mommy. He has said this in front of me and other parents, and I have laughed it off as best I could. Apparently 5-year-olds don’t have a filter, even when you tell them it’s an important secret.
I know you probably think I’m a bad mother and that I am teaching some pretty bad things to my kids, and maybe you’re right. I just don’t know how to get out of this after all this time. And perhaps my husband is right — this is all pretty exhausting. I don’t know how to talk to my kid, actually, kids, because Eric has now been briefed by his baby brother. And what do I say to people I have known for quite some time? This is all just unraveling around me, and I have no clue as to what to do. Can you help?
— Veronica S., Alpharetta, Ga.
Dear Veronica –
Oh, the web we weave to protect ourselves from being discovered or found out. Most people do something similar on an emotional level, or keep a secret about a past experience. In your case you walk around with it. It’s in your head. There’s a lot of territory here to cover, so let me jump in. I’m willing to bet that perhaps not consciously you were done with the lie when your kid discovered you. It’s interesting to me that you skipped over the details of that part of the story, because I imagine the details would probably have revealed you wanted to be found out. Your husband is right: Carrying on something like this for as long as you have is exhausting because it dampens your spirit of who you really are as a person. You’re not the lie or your hair, and pretending as such takes precious energy away from those things you love and the people you love. You deprive yourself of oxygen and subsequently have less for those around you who truly need and want you. The inference here is not that you’re not a great wife and mom, but just imagining how much greater you would be if you had nothing to hide.
As for your kids, this is a big talk that needs to happen. Withholding the truth probably has run counter to what you have been saying to your boys about telling it. You’re going to need to bridge that divide with some serious truth telling and being a model for them by taking ownership of this issue and any other issues that they will face in life. You must clean this up with them. For everyone’s future!
As for your friends and whoever else needs to be “in,” you can do this in groups of people or individually, as desired. I’m not attached to how you do it, be it in person, over the phone, in a card — it’s just time for a clean slate. You decide what works best and just do it. The interesting dynamic about this is that it started out as one lie and has probably grown into other lies to cover the original lie. Even your request for me not to post this tells me as much. Stop! It’s over. It’s going to be a blessing to you and others. I’m certain you’re probably already feeling some of that relief, and let me assure you — there’s more coming. You no longer have to carry around this weight. You can still wear your hair, get some other great ideas through this site, and start living your truth. It’s time to be rediscovered for who you are.
Dear Mitch is written by “The Relationship Coach”, also known as Mitch Newman, M.A.. Write Dear Mitch at DearMitch@hairloss.com or follow this link to fill out a form. Every letter is carefully reviewed but because of the large numbers of letters we receive, not every letter can be answered.
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