Parents ponder why their daughter who suffers from Alopecia is so resilient.
Our daughter Alexandra has lost all of her hair, including her eyebrows, to Alopecia. She is 12-years-old. Before this happened, we had her involved in piano lessons, ballet and Girl Scouts, and she was active with our church’s young women’s program. When she lost her hair last month, we braced ourselves for the worse, thinking she would refuse to dance in public or go to her activities. Instead, this has made our special girl stronger. She said, “I’m still the same person with or without hair.”
Mitch, we’re very proud of our daughter. We respect her for how she’s handling this terrible trial, and I’m wondering if her father and I are handling it as well as she is. But my question is, what is it that makes one young girl rise to the occasion and another young girl fall apart and withdraw? I believe it was our insistence that Alex go to church and attend these classes and activities and clubs. My husband says it’s just who she is. Maybe it’s a combination of both?
— Susan M., Provo, Utah
Dear Susan -
I have this strange and funny feeling that what you’re posing to me has less to do with Alexandra and more to do with you and your husband. In fact, I think what you’re most surprised at is not how resilient Alexandra has proven to be, but just how resilient both you and your husband are in this situation. Now, here’s the flip side of what I sense is going on for the two of you. As parents we often project our own issues onto our children. In this scenario perhaps both of you doubt you would be handling it so well if you were her age and going through this type of loss.
Another part is you may be projecting down the road a bit, to an age when dating and boys become part of the norm, and wondering how she will handle this when it comes to being seen or desired by the opposite sex. In our minds we often compete between our own belief systems about being bald and what society tells us is normal and attractive. From a feminine perspective multiply those issues times ten, since bald women occupy a whole different space in our consciousness.
What I find most exciting about Alexandra is her willingness to remain present and in the moment with “what is” in her life. I would agree that a strong faith plays a part, but the bigger piece is the faith she has inside about who she is in the world. The vast majority of kids and even adults don’t normally have the abundance of self-esteem and self-worth that she has in her 12-year-old body! In many ways she is a great teacher, a great reminder of what is possible in the world when it comes to turning adversity into substance. The key for you is to acknowledge all of your thoughts and feelings, process through any lingering limiting beliefs about what you believe is possible -- with the help of a Coach, Therapist or member of the Clergy -- and then focus on the gift she offers to you of staying present with what is. You may even choose to go a step further and trust that tomorrow will take care of itself. I do believe that you’re more than halfway there already. Good luck!
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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