“Perhaps someday I’ll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow.” – Sylvia Plath
I struggle with a disorder called trichotillomania. I compulsively pull out my eyelashes and eyebrows, sometimes on purpose and sometimes in delirious trances — I blink for what seems like a moment, and I snap back into consciousness minutes later with dozens of discarded eyelashes fanned out before me.
Trichotillomania isn’t the most severe struggle I have experienced in my life, but it is the most visible one – it haunts me every time I glimpse my bald eyes in a mirror. Even as I write about self-discovery and transformation, my hair-pulling has kept me trapped and transfixed for seventeen years.
And today I wrote a letter about it.
Letter writing is the deepest form of healing I know. Letters are conversational, which allows us to let our guard down – we slip out of our fixation over what words sound right, and we gain some breathing room to look at our lives from a wider perspective.
I write letters to and from my younger self, letters to and from my future self… letters to and from my dead friends… even my blog posts are formatted like letters, which I didn’t even notice until I had already published several of them. (Maybe that’s why I love Love Letters to Yourself so much. Or maybe it’s because its founder, Jillie Johnston, is a rock star.)
In his book The Seven Living Words, Mark Anthony Lord invites readers to write a letter about a specific struggle they are experiencing from the perspective of The Universe, God, Life, Goodness… whatever interchangeable names we want to call the thread of life force that binds together all beings on the planet. An outsider’s view.
The format is simple: Dear You… Pep talk about the situation… Love, Spirituality-Word-Of-Your-Choosing. Simple, focused on a single challenge you are facing, yet potentially profound. If the idea of writing this from a higher power is uncomfortable, you could write from the perspective of a friend who cherishes and adores you unconditionally.
Here is the letter I wrote out of my frustration that I still pull out my eyelashes:
Surrender your hair pulling and awaken to the fullness of You.
The life at your fingerprints and swirling between your breaths is big and bold and extraordinary — you don’t need to squander your energy on destroying your own body.
It’s okay to feel waves of anxiety when someone else has a crooked eyelash. It’s okay that your lizard brain kicks in and you zoom in, you stare, you grit your teeth at that hair on someone else’s tiny follicle that is Wrong
(Wrong according to the absurd standards of Right and Wrong / Crooked and Perfect that you created as a child in your mother’s bedroom mirror.)
It’s okay that your companion keeps talking, oblivious that a hair dangling from their eyelid is the only thing you hear. It’s okay that you innocently tell them “I think you have something in your eye…” in hopes that they will rub their eye and force the eyelash to tumble out. It’s even okay that for a select few people, you will lunge right at them to “fix” the crooked eyelash.
But all of these feelings and actions are just that – Okay. Not extraordinary. Not fearless. They are Adequate, but they don’t help you boldly shine and unfold. They are Okay, but you are bigger than Okay.
You are enfolded always in divine buoyancy, even when you can’t feel it – even when you feel like Bubble Girl, unable to reach through the film and connect with other human beings.
Let your hair-pulling go. It isn’t working, and it’s time for you to live a life that works. Step into your power. You are loved, whole, and free.
You are interesting and captivating without your disorder. Let that one sink in for a second. You do not need to pull out your eyelashes to be Unique or Important. You just need to be You.
Whenever you’re ready, the key and the hope and the power are within you.
(aka God, Spirit, Goodness, Life, Your Soul, Love, Goddess…. )
Replace my trichotillomania with your unemployment, your broken heart, your crisis, your boredom, your shattered relationship. Whatever you are resisting.
What does the love-filled ecstatically-blissful Universe have to say about your situation?
You are interesting and captivating without your destructive tendencies. What letter do you need to read to let go of whatever holds you back?
Write it yourself. Read it. Let it sink into your bones.
Creative expression heals.
Love and Fluttering Crooked Follicles,
What does your letter say? What insights can you gain by seeing your challenge from a broader perspective? Share your wisdom in the comments section!