Friday, July 11, 2008

A Strange Confession to Make

I saw a programme today about a young woman who pulls out her hair bit by bit; it is a form of self harm and she has permanently damaged her scalp. It made me shudder to watch because I was a hair puller as a child. I used to lie in bed, pick out a section of my hair, tie in a knot at the end and tug it till it came straight out of my scalp. The flesh on my head would bleed and I would then throw the clumps of hair under the bed. One day my mammy found loads of the hair and on closer inspection noticed that I had a bald patch on the side of my skull. She couldn’t figure out why I would do such a thing. I never explained it to her properly.

I was sexually abused as a child and somehow discovered hair pulling as a way to divert the pain by ripping out my hair. I did eventually explain to my mum about the abuse, though somehow she chose to ignore my words and therefore allowed her brother to continue to sexually abuse me. My hair pulling got worse. I don’t know when I stopped doing it.

To this day I still tug at my hair, I twist it and sometimes chew the ends and on occasion I do pull wee bits out. The strange pain it evokes makes me feel odd and I know that it is wrong and damaging to my scalp, but somewhere deep inside it reminds me of my childhood pain, yet I continue.

Everyone thinks I am terribly strong and brave because I survived the abuse, because I do comedy about my past and because I wrote a book about my difficult life, but underneath it all I am still a child who tugs her hair out sometimes.

I know I will never reach the point where I actually rip chunks out, but I do still fiddle with my hair too much. I need to address this and stop it.

My daughter Ashley took a photo of me from the side on, in that picture I was chewing my hair; I looked at it and felt terrible shame and horror at what I do.

So today I am resolved to stopping it all, maybe by admitting it I am addressing it will help me do this.

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