*Trigger Warning: Discussion of Trich here. You have been warned.*
It’s not that I’ve never known what I was living with before, the trich this time that is, but I’ve never been so badly damaged by it. If that makes sense.
It started about ten years ago, around the time I was twelve, when someone politely and kindly commented me on my (at the time) bushy eyebrows, and already self-conscious as I was about them, I started pulling the hairs out. And, to be fair, it’s true that I saw other people do the same, so it’s not like anything was wrong with it at first.
Around this time I constantly had eyelashes falling out and into my damn eyeballs. So, I started pulling out the traitors then, too.
As time went on, and stress came and went from me, I pulled at my eyebrows and my eyelashes.
The worst culprit would be the nighttime. In the dark, worrying about my stress, I would find myself half-asleep without a care in the world and certainly without the thought of consequences that I’d pull coarse strand after coarse strand from my face. I would twirl the hair in my fingers until I eventually dropped it and it landed, lost, onto my bedspread.
Or, sometimes, in the daylight when pulling at my eyelashes, I found myself creating a little puddle of the dark lashes–counting out how many lost lives had come to die that day and often ending with numbers near ten or a few more.
I would start having gaps in my lashes and in my brows, and I’d inspect the damage in the bathroom mirror the next morning. Fascinated by what I had done, I would be shocked by the gap, bite my lip in uncertainty, then have to exhale and walk it off–the damage was done and there wasn’t anything I could do about it after.
There were times I could go a month, a few weeks, even a couple of months without pulling. I would do badly then I would do better. I even wore gloves at night a few times to prevent myself from pulling (something I have to get back into).
All of this is to say: I don’t think I ever thought I’d lose one third of my eyebrow due to a pulling session.
But, it’s happened.
As my eyelashes are growing back into my left eyelid and my right eyelid is suffering a few gaps, my left brow just had to go. I was mulling over all the responsibilities and stressors about a potential doggo (plus homework and school) that at two AM I just pulled and pulled and pulled.
Again, it was in the dark so it was like there were no consequences.
Until I saw what I had done the next morning. To have a bare end of my eyebrow – or what should be my brow – gone….is strange. I found myself rolling in shame because it wasn’t something I could shrug off so easily this time. It was clear that some monster had attacked my brow. Part of it was missing, after all.
Within my shame I still play at the bare skin with my intruding fingertip. Feeling the way the skin is soft and bare, yet tragically so. I can feel the few strands that didn’t make their getaway. I can feel the middle gap between the top and bottom hairs–a gap that if filled wouldn’t be so bad, but being absent makes the damage look worse. Parted. Separate. Different.
Shame mixes with depression as the idea of having to face the world one brow less is a reality I now have to live in. If I could go back in time, rewind the day, I’d save myself the trouble. But maybe now it’s for the better, I can officially blog that I’ve hit a low point with trich, and trich is something that I live with.
I always wrote it off before, but now I cannot any longer. It is a part of my story. And it is a story that I will tell without shame…or more realistically with bouts of shame interspersed around courage and strength.
The next couple of months will be interesting for sure. Growing back a brow and having to not pull again. We’ll see how I do. Part of me can proudly lift up her chin to face the world and part of me would rather hide behind a hood for the rest of eternity. Both parts can exist.
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