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Confession...and Testimony

Looking at this picture makes me laugh and cry. Those who have known me all of my life could probably recall a time when I had no facial hair at all.

Oh yeah I remember hearing or being asked about rumors. I heard the back talk both as a child and adult. I've heard stories, and so many other tales of why my 'face was bald'.

What most people don't know is that my ordeal began when I was in second grade. I came home to find my mother unconscious on the floor, bleeding heavily. I even heard a neighbor say that she was dying as she was being placed inside the ambulance. We later found out that she had a miscarriage at some point during the day. I would have a brother in his mid-30's if my mother had carried the baby full term. What happened that night is still a mystery to me, all I remember is waking up with no eyelashes, eyebrows, and no edges on my hairline. The hair grew back. My eyelashes and eyebrows is a different story. It is a story that shaped my life and self-perception for 40+ years.

I learned a few years ago I had a condition known as trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder, that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body (Mayoclinic, 2018). This is a mental disorder that I had no idea about until my early 40's. It was truly a relief to discover that I was not alone and could finally put a name to this 'thing' that I fought with for so many years. Can you imagine the relief I felt?

Just think about it... From 2nd grade until I was 40+ yrs old, I thought I was alone. I thought I was the only person who, despite wanting (and trying) to stop plucking my eyelashes and eyebrows I could not. As a child the suffering, shame, and disappointment were a lot to bear. The embarrassment that I was suffered from kids was very cruel at times. Some adults were worse than the kids because they were equally cruel. For years I hid my face. I thought I was ugly and suffered silently in shame and guilt for my unconscious, unstoppable urge to pluck my lashes and eyebrows. As I got older, some people that I confided in said pray it away. Some people said go get some medication. Some said get therapy.

Well I did get therapy, but not for that condition. Therapy in the form of grief counseling to help me through the loss of my grandmother and then again after the unexpected death of my mother and youngest sister (six months after my mom's death). Through therapy I was able to develop coping skills for handling grief. Also in doing self-work, I was able to get to the root of my shame and guilt and get control of the silent monster that troubled me all of my younger years and most of my adult life.

I'm sharing this part of me to let you all know that my life is not perfect and has not been perfect. I've had struggles, tribulations, sadness, experienced a lot of death and pain. I've also experienced highs, times of great joy, accomplishments, championships, medals, honors, degrees, certificates, marriage, motherhood, being a grandmother, marriage and recently celebrating 25 years on my job.

Throughout my 51 years nature has been the one constant provider of hope and comfort. Even during the time I struggled with faith, the existence and power of God, I always had the trees, sunshine, rain, lakes, oceans, stars, moon, and smell of fresh cut grass. Escaping into nature or just being in it always gave me peace, hope, joy, and love. My soul rests when I am in nature. My healing takes place when I am in nature. This is one of the reasons I believe in #Camping4Clarity. It is one of the reasons I know that camping is a healing modality.

Folks, I am a survivor and overcomer ... Tammi

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