Story by Cheryn Salazar
Since I was 12 years old, I’ve suffered with a condition called Trichotillomania, which is layman’s terms for, Compulsive Hair Pulling. The physical devastation was severe, but the emotional damage was worse. When I was young, no one, including my doctor, knew how to help. I was alone.
Growing up, I didn’t fit in anywhere and suffered great shame knowing I’d brought this affliction upon myself. My hands seemed to have a mind of their own. “What’s wrong with me,” I’d often wonder. Sometimes, people inquired about my lack of eyelashes and eyebrows. It was tough being a teen without the added torment of my condition. Although I was lonely, I kept people at a distance. But each night, before I fell asleep, I’d pray for wisdom, and for God to send someone who understood.
In 1985, when I was 25, I read a letter, in Ann Landers, from a mom whose child suffered from compulsive hair pulling. I could hardly believe my eyes. After all these years, I discovered, I was not alone. In fact, my condition even had a medical name. Ann Landers pointed out, over a million people suffered from this syndrome.
At that moment, my journey for healing began. I took small steps at first–telling only a few friends. Some said, “Ew”, but others tried to understand. Then, they began to share their secrets with me. I learned to see myself the way God saw me, someone deserving of love.
Then one day, my miracle happened. A friend called with wonderful news. She’d just met a woman with Trich—someone just like me. She gave me her phone number. I was ecstatic. I quickly dialed, and from the minute Christina answered, we began to chat like old friends, both thrilled to find someone who understood our pain. We planned to meet soon, but in the meantime, she wanted to mail me some literature. When I gave her my address, she let out a piercing scream. Even though I resided in the lightly populated, rural area, of Soquel, California, it turned out, we lived only two houses away.
We immediately dropped our phones, and in the dark of the night, ran outside in our pajamas, where we hugged, cried and talked for hours. She shared her dream about opening a Trich learning center, and I shared mine–to write a book about my lonely experience. I felt I’d just met my long lost twin, someone who understood my pain and struggles. There was no doubt about it, I was looking into the eyes of a miracle.
When we walked back to my house, and into the light, Christina slowly lifted her long hair revealing patchy, bald spots. Then with a deep breath, I took off my makeup and let her see me as no one else ever had, not even my husband of 10 years. In that moment, I knew, my childhood prayer had been answered.
Yes, it was true. I was not alone.