Embracing Vulnerability and Learning To Let Go: One Year Wig Free

I am blooming from the wound where I once bled.

One year. One whole year without hair pieces, wigs, cover up powder, or adhesive eyebrows. One whole year of spending more time on campus rather than rushing home for appointments. One whole year without the fear that the wind or a hand would unintentionally show all I had lost. Most importantly though, it’s been an entire year of growth and self-acceptance. Learning to embrace my vulnerability rather than cover it up in makeup, synthetic hair, and excuses has been one beautifully messy journey.

As with any year, a lot has changed for me since I took my wig off. I was able to look at myself in the mirror again and accepted what I saw rather than despised it. I called myself “trash” less and “warrior” more. I finally let myself cry after so many years of repressing my emotions and could really start healing. I became more aware of the light in myself and finally felt that I had the potential to become the beacon of light I long to be. I learned that I have an incredible support system that stays alongside me during the ups and downs of this complicated self-love journey. I began embracing the parts of myself that once disgusted me. I made peace with my past and realized that I can forgive myself much like I can forgive anyone else.

Nevertheless, I am always growing and evolving. I will always be self-conscious about my appearance and hesitant to take up too much space in this world. There are parts of my story I am just facing now that should have been addressed years ago. I am struggling to care for myself like I aspire to care for others. I’m a chronic perfectionist and will never meet my own expectations. But that’s all ok because I’m still growing. I’m still learning. I’m still living my story and I’m not giving up.

But that’s all ok because I’m still growing. I’m still learning. I’m still living my story and I’m not giving up.

In letting go of my wig, I let go of my safety blanket. I’m learning to embrace vulnerability rather than shy away from it. I am becoming comfortable in my own skin instead of desiring to be in someone else’s. I’m realizing how beautiful life can be when you’ve conquered so many mountains. I was made to survive so that I could live the life I once thought I could never have. I seldom say this, but I’m proud of myself for making it this far. Thank you to anyone who has been a part of my journey–even just tolerating a cliche-filled blog post means a whole lot to me.

To further celebrate this personal milestone, I have revised my “recovery playlist” of sorts. I am pleased to share the songs that have validated my experiences:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/12811853/playlist/6v9TkRcECckHP8nmJXM18N

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“Why Did I Stay?”

I’ve found myself desperately seeking validity,
“Why did I stay?”
Then I remember:

Connecting at every concert,
Striving to be every beacon I see,
Reconciling my relationship with the mirror,
Sharing and healing with my story,
Freeing myself of the weight of my mask,
Learning that I’m not alone,
Defining myself as a warrior,
Accepting the love I’ve deserved,
Embracing hair that is my own,
Surrounding myself in light,
Continuing to find calms in my chaos.

A Self-Confidence Boost/Shameless Plug

(I hope to have some real writings to post soon, until then here is some self-promo)

Last night I attended an open mic night, and let my voice be heard (literally) in a welcoming environment with the comfort of a full band and some friends. It was invigorating, and for the first time this month I felt capable. This sudden appreciation for myself benefitted me this morning, as I made it through a driving lesson without nearing an anxiety attack. Life is less heavy when you see yourself as capable, here are videos from my performance below:

Dreams-Fleetwood Mac

Will You Love Me Tomorrow

 

The Burden of My Very Being, Or the Fear of Being Vulnerable?

I’d like to say 2017 has been a journey of self-awareness, reflection, and tying up loose ends thus far. After several random spells of anxiety with accompanying fatigue, nausea, and a general feeling that the weight of the world was falling down on me, it became clear that I was holding a lot of emotional shit back. As much as I preach and praise vulnerability, I hate being vulnerable myself. I share things about my life like a third person narrative, often omitting the emotions and insecurities that are buried beneath my actions and reactions.

But what makes a story relatable if we don’t talk about the feelings associated with it? How can we authentically connect with others when we can’t even be honest with ourselves, nevermind with those around us? How can I be the beacon of light I’ve longed to become when I feel more like an anchor, dragged down by the weight of my suppressed emotions and worries about everyone around me?

When I became intrigued by the idea of the Lighthouse, one of the first quotes I came across was “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” I couldn’t understand this quote. What do you mean they don’t go running looking for people to save? That’s all I felt that I was capable of doing, finding the broken and carrying their emotional burdens while I save them. I once mistook this for love, but “You can’t just sit there and put everyone’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love.” I’ve grown up always giving and putting others’ needs before my own because someone was always worse off than I was. Yet, I convinced myself that I was a horrible human being and that my very existence was a burden to everyone in my life. I suppose this is why I became especially obsessed with this idea of saving growing up, because who would consider a saviour a burden?

I’m a people pleaser. I want to make people happy. Is that care-taking, or just me acting on my fear of abandonment? I made everyone’s emotional well-being my responsibility. Offering a helping hand became offering a whole arm and eventually my entire body. I masked my brokenness for the sake relieving others. I’ve always been more of a caretaker, my amiability is a gift, but what happens when you run out of pieces to give?

I ran out of pieces recently. A lovely alopecia flare up came unexpected and I was terrified for what the future could bring. I isolated myself, refused to reach out for help, and felt myself falling back into old bad habits that I swore were gone for good.

My therapist once asked me “Who are you if you aren’t helping people?” and I immediately said “nothing.” She then asked me the question “What if you were in some awful car accident and had to be taken care of? How would you feel?” Guilty. Burdensome. But why do I feel this way when I know there are people who love and support me in this world? I am blessed with light around me, words of encouragement, and hugs of validation. I’ve found my calm in the chaos, and it’s kept me from completely drowning. However, everything is temporary, and that is terrifying. If my candle is being lit, I should be lighting every candle I possibly can right? Perhaps if I light every candle, I won’t lose the love I desperately need, even though I believe that I don’t actually have it. I’m one big hypocrite, my own worst enemy, trapped in a fear that immobilizes me from getting what I want.

Reassurance

The calm can live alongside the chaos. Lighthouses survive overwhelming ocean waves and storms much like we do, even when we think we won’t. Some days we feel that darkness has dimmed our light, but like the lighthouse amongst the storm exemplifies, we can always find the calm in the chaos. Perhaps the chaos illuminates our calm, as lights seem to shine brighter in the dark. Take this as a reminder that even on our worst days, our beautiful lights are still standing, giving so much to the world.