just meI never thought the day would come when I would get to feel hair on my shoulders again, when I would feel it tickle my face when the wind blew, when I would get to pull it up into a pony tail, and when it was actually thick and long enough to necessitate brushing!

I have had my new hair for about a week now, and I’m still in awe. I’m like a kid who has just received a Christmas gift that he or she has wanted for years. I keep looking at my hair, maybe just to check and make sure it is still there because it seems so surreal.

So, if you have followed the story of my extensions you know that my chances of having any had been pretty much dashed earlier this year. I had finally met up with a stylist who would help me, without judgement, and had planned to get hair extensions prior to being Maid of Honor at my best friend’s wedding.

Long story short, we could not match the unique color of my hair or the curl. The hair just did not work out. So, because the extensions were my next to last plan of attack for this disorder, I had to swallow hard, take a few deep breaths and just realize that maybe, maybe just maybe I would never have long hair again. Maybe nothing working for me was some sort of sign, if you believe in that cosmic sort of stuff.

I was emotional for a few days, well, more than usual, but after the numbness wore off I started to feel like, “Ok, maybe I am focusing on the wrong path, the wrong objective.” Maybe I am not seeing the forest through the trees, as the saying goes. Instead of feeling defeated and beat down by some sort of interstellar justice that I did not understand, I felt a sense of contentment.  I felt that everything was OK just this way. It’s difficult to explain while being limited to a keyboard and screen, but I think many of you know what I mean. It was a “Let It Go” moment (my apologies for getting that song stuck in your head :).

Several months went by, and one day out of the clear blue I get a text from the stylist that reads “Call me, I have hair for you.” Huh? We spent hours trying to find the right hair online for me with no luck, where oh where dear did you find such a thing? I texted back asking her where she got the hair and received the response, “It’s a long story.”

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. We don’t immediately know what that reason is, but what ever it is it is meant to prepare us for something that has yet to happen. This has re-affirmed my belief.

The lady who has been helping me is a recovering alcoholic. That’s how we met, we both see the same counselor for our issues. She attends weekly meetings as per recovery dictates. A gal in her class, whom I will call Sarah, just happens to have the same hair color, thickness and curl as me. It is almost freakish how alike it is.

She had really, really long hair. So she decided she was going to cut it. Knowing that her fellow AA member was a stylist, she asked her if she wanted it for extensions. Ummm, yes please! She was planning on just throwing the hair away, as most people do with the hair they’ve cut off. But, for some reason she decided to ask my stylist if her hair was needed for something. Truth is some times stranger than fiction.

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The extensions!

So my stylist, being the lovely and dedicated woman that she is, spent hours separating the hair into extension-size clumps and then rolling the ends into a glue-like concoction that keeps each clump together. I went into the salon one night and helped her, I wanted to be involved in the process, and learned just what a tedious thing making hair extensions is.

A date was then set for me to come in and actually have the extensions put in. Of course I had to be schooled on how to care for them before that so I’d know what I was getting into. The list of dos and don’ts is overwhelming at first, but after wanting hair for so long I was ready and willing to follow a few care rules to be able to make it happen!

She told me it would hurt a bit, mostly because there would be some pulling an tugging on my scalp, and that it would take some time to get used to (Especially, I’ve while sleeping because I can feel the little beads digging into my scalp).

I was so anxious and nervous when the day of my appointment came up that I damn near canceled the thing. But, I thought that would be a pretty rotten thing to do to the stylist because she had spent so much time and effort into creating the extensions for me. So I went . . . (I could not find my anxiety medication either, rats!)

Here’s how it works:

• Each extension is bound at one end with that glue-type stuff I mentioned earlier. You can kind of see it in that photo above. The cuticles all had to be going the same direction so that one was not sticking out on the side of my head, etc. They all had to be laid out so that they were in the same “grow direction,” basically.

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During the process.

• The extensions must be put in in rows so that they match your natural hair growth pattern, starting from the bottom. To put it in, the stylist gets a little tool, it is a metal stick with a hook thing on the end of it. Did you ever make those latch-hook things when you were a kid? The hook looks like one of those latch-hook tools. She took a strand of my existing hair, paired it with one of the extensions, then grabbed a little bead and pulled both strands through the bead. She then used a tool that sort of looked like pliers to clamp the bead around the hair so that they would not slip. Here is what the tools looked like: 21OTHDQ2sJL

Kind of scary looking, right?

The other thing about extensions . . . they take a long, long time. Hours. We had to do two sittings. It did not hurt at all, getting them in, but then that night it was really hard to go to sleep because I could feel all those little beads on the back of my head.

The hair on the top of my head is really short. So she put the extensions up quite a ways but can only go so far before it starts to look unnatural. So we need to wait until the hair up there grows out a little bit more and then she will blend it in with the extensions to make it look better. So for now I am still wearing a hat. But it’s freaking freezing where I live so I would be any way.

I am going back in this Saturday (tomorrow), she said she put the bottom row in to low so she is going to take them out and move them up. That will help.

It’s been the biggest difference for me. Already I am pulling less. When my hand goes up to pull I feel the hair or the bead and it jerks back into consciousness and reminds me to stop. Also, when I would pull before I, like most other trichsters, pulled for the feeling of the root, and since this hair does not have roots I get no satisfaction from pulling it.

But, unfortunately I am still pulling from the top. But this is a huge step forward for me, and I truly do believe now that I can quit pulling for good. Just a few months ago I had surrendered to the idea that I would do this to myself forever.

I wish I could express to anyone with TTM how much I really do understand what you’re going through. I am 35 and this is the first time I have had long hair since I was 12. There is healing and recovery for this. Please don’t give up, at least not for the long term.

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