September 30, 2009

The Magic Ingredients

Self esteem. I wish someone would bottle and sell it. In this world it's really difficult to cultivate self esteem on your own. I wish there was some magical way of thinking, some fail-safe mantra that could protect a person from an attack on their confidence. Even those who somehow manage to have a strong sense of self worth can have the rug pulled out from under them. And those who are hanging on by a thread can have their last link to reality cut, and they give up.

It's tempting to blame any one thing in this world, but they all work together. Advertising, movies, thoughtless acts of others, the way society gets more and more distant in its human interaction. You can pass by hundreds of people in your day and not have a meaningful exchange with anyone. And you certainly don't have to have a 'socially unacceptable' disorder to be a victim. It can happen to anyone, any age, any attitude.

And to further complicate things, it's about more than just your looks. How do you explain how someone like me, a girl with male pattern hair growth, can keep going while someone else with flawless skin and elegant features can hate herself so much that she feels her own life is not worth fighting for? Self esteem is more than feeling good about your looks (though that certainly can help). Is it your abilities that you have to be proud of? Do you have to like your personality? Do you have to feel you are in balance with being a good friend and a good daughter/sister/mother, good wife/girlfriend and a good worker? What does it take to feel like you are worth it?

I wish I knew the recipe, so I could protect myself, and help others. No one should be feeling like they should just give up. No one should allow a careless lover to get them down, or the thoughtlessness of a friend, or one's own error at work, or the body they were born with. Yet they do. We're all fighting this constant battle to hang on to this mystical thing, but we don't know exactly how to keep it from escaping.

And for some, it is not melodramatic to say this is a life or death struggle.

I think one of the biggest mistakes we make is thinking someone else can give it to us--particularly in a romantic relationship. If you're not happy with yourself now, you're never going to be happy as part of a pair. Some family and some friends you can trust to build you up, but throwing that expectation onto a stranger is dangerous.

I think another big mistake is to allow yourself to get in the way of acheiving your dreams. Have the courage to go to that country you always wanted to visit, orget that higher education that will place you in the career you fantasize about. It's my observation that the people who don't really give something a wholehearted try are the ones who feel they fail at everything--and so they don't try. It's a vicious circle that keeps them in a place where they feel like a failure. Going after what you want is not as simple as it sounds, but that's why you have to give it your all, frightening as it may be.

But lack of confidence in one's self is usually what spurs us to make these mistakes. It is so hard to fight for yourself when your own self is pitched against you.

So what do you do? Obviously I have no answers, but I'm not giving up, and I don't want anyone else to, either. There are people who believe I'm worth it. And there are people who believe you're worth it, too. If you can't think of anyone right now, just use me.

September 24, 2009

Say "Ahh."

Here's something fun about being hirsute: going to the dentist. Another human being leaning over your face with a bright light and a mirror--how could a dental hygienist not notice?

It's something that always concerned me a little, and I would take extra care to shave (I would also trim my nose hair--hey, I expect the same courtesy of my dentist!) and moisturize so my make-up went on smoothly and didn't crack as my mouth was stretched in all possible directions. And I'd wonder, as she did so, if she ever took her eyes off my teeth long enough to see the shadow of stubble. But now that I've read of other bearded ladies feeling the same way, it's made it worse for me. Now I'm touching up my make-up on the way to the dentist, and wishing I could check it in the waiting room without people watching me and thinking I'm vain.

And I know I ought to get a hold of myself. They're doctors, even if they don't specialize in skin or hormonal disorders. They're not there to judge, they're there to clean and maintain the health of the tools in your mouth. Really, I have much more valid reasons to fear the dentist. ;)

And now that half an hour has passed since the fluoride wash, I can finally get a drink!

September 15, 2009

Still Here

I apologize for my silence here on the blog and other sites.

Someone who means a great deal to me tried to commit suicide last week, and yes, that is blunt and doesn't do her any favors, but neither does pretending it didn't happen. In addition, I've always tried to be straightforward in this blog, and it needs to be said. While she seems to be doing better now, I'm finding I still need to deal with the shock of it. We'll be okay, I think, but life is in too much turmoil right now and I have to look after myself and my family first.

Considering how often blogs peter out, though, I felt I owed everyone who reads this the assurance that I'm not going anywhere, and I hope to be back in a week or two and I will get to all comments or emails then. Until then, you are all more beautiful than you realize, giving up is never a solution, and you are stronger than you will hopefully ever need to know.

September 2, 2009

Wouldn't Give a Hair on my Head

I meant to write about a nightmare I had, now more than two weeks ago. Usually if I dream about my body hair, it's just there in the background as a simple fact about my body and something that prevents me. But this time, I dreamed about my hormones. I dreamed my androgen levels were so high that my scalp hair suddenly started falling out. Huge chunks of it just coming out on my head when I ran my fingers through it. Very I-Know-What-You-Did-Last-Summer.

Even though I knew that too much testosterone can be responsible for scalp hair loss, I was in such a panic, and I was alone. The people I trusted with my "condition" were out of town and the people who might have been available to help me were the people I wanted to hide from. And as I tried to think of who I could call, my hair just kept sliding over my shoulders onto the floor in clumps and I couldn't stop it.

The "It Could Be Worse" argument can be a little futile at times, but that dream was so vivid that I woke up covered in sweat and crying. The act of losing my hair was what frightened me, more than living with the loss of it afterward. In that purely emotional state, it was something I would not have traded to have the "average" amount of body hair.

Does it ever strike people as strange? Strange that one kind of hair is so valued when another is thought of as repugnant? If I thought about it rationally, about the time and pain and emotion I pour into dealing with my body hair every day, I know it would certainly be worth it to wear a wig for the rest of my days if I could trade in my scalp hair for a hirsutism-free life. But when it came right down to it, it was hard to argue with my gut feeling upon waking.

It may be useless to think of what we would physically give in return for "normal" bodies, but it does cross my mind sometimes.