Recently I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and she said to me, as so many have said before, "Man, Tina, I just don't know how you have gone through all of this. I think I'd just go crazy if it was me, I just can't imagine."
Its funny, but the first words that popped out of my mouth were "You know what? You should shave your head."
Of course this was met with a big 'what do you mean?!' on her part, and rightly so, it did seem like an odd thing to say at the time. But the more I think of it, the more I like this idea. I think that anyone who really wants to know what its like to go through something that completely alters your appearance should shave their heads- especially women. I dont mean just shave it shave it- I mean like BIC it- use a razor and get a nice, shiny, bald Mr. Clean head. Then go walk around without a hat for a while and see what it's like. This is what I have felt like for the past 2 years. People will stare. Some will point and whisper. Little children will candidly exclaim "Mommy, look at her head!" as children are so very outspoken and honest. The first few days you will be quite embarrassed. You will send your husband to the store for the few small things you need. You wont want to go put gas in the car because you are tired of the stares. You will begin to think its nicer to stay at home and read a book than it is to go walk around the mall for a while like you usually do on Saturday afternoons.
Then, after some time, after you have, of course, re-shaved your head numerous times b/c hair grows back (much faster than jaw bone does I have to say- *wink) you'll start to feel melancholy. You'll start to hate staring at the walls at home, and miss feeling the sun on your face and the wind ruffling your hair. You will start to feel down, so one day, maybe a few weeks later for you (took me about 10 months or more) you decide to go to the store when you are out of bread instead of sending your husband. You are so glad to be back outside among the living that even though people are staring at you all over again, its ok. Its still nerve wracking, and maybe the more blatant ones who dont bother to hide their candid rudeness will upset you a bit. But you are so glad to be back outside that you realize- who cares? My head is bald, but I am still a human being, I still need to go out and do things and be alive. After all, staying indoors and hiding away from the world is not truly living.
This may seem completely out there and over the top, but in reality I think that everyone needs to go through a life-altering change to their appearance like this in order to understand people like myself who have these things happen to them and who's bodies have been changed forever- breast cancers, tumors, amputations, etc. I think the common thought is "I'd just DIE if anything happened to my face!|" I know I myself had thought that up until the time I was diagnosed with the ameloblastoma and even after it was removed. But you know, you realize after a while that it really isnt what is on the outside that counts. We begin to rely on our looks in society so much, especially as women, that we forget to take care of what is on the inside. So when something happens to the outside we become frantic and depressed, we feel like we are less than women who have perfectly attractive, 'normal' faces.
These days I like to think of myself as an analogy for the pottery maker who is making his latest masterpiece. I am a new pot. The embarrassment, the tears and the anger I have felt since the beginning are transforming me into a new beautiful piece of pottery. I was beautiful before, when the Artist first formed me. But I was made out of soft clay. If I was poked with an object, my sides would cave in and I felt pain. I couldnt even hold water because I was too weak. I needed to be put into the fire in order to achieve my true beauty as an individual. The 'new' piece of pottery that I am going to become is so much more beautiful because it has been through the fire and become stonger, it has a shiny glazed outside and a hard inside, it is more useful because it can now hold things like it was meant to.
Still, every day is sometimes a struggle for me and I often feel tired of dealing with all of this but I know it will pass. I like to think of a quote by Anne Frank: "I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains."