While heading up a FaceBook Trichotillomania group, I am confronted with the simple, undeniable truth;
Trichotillomania and abuse are connected. I can’t say every person who has hair-pulling disorder was abused. I can and do speak from personal experience and from the place of leading a FaceBook group of 100+ teen and adult hair-pullers when I say …. it’s a common trend.
By and large, these souls who dare to be vulnerable to me, to share the darkest spots in their histories, share a truth with a common theme; Abuse in childhood. And it’s ugly; much of it is sexual abuse. I imagine that the puller re-experiences the shame felt of being sexually (or otherwise) abused again in the moments of hair pulling. I’ve been there. It is our bodies re-telling their story of pain and of being made to suppress this pain. Pain can only be stuffed down for so long before it resurfaces. It is up to us how we deal with the re-emergence of intense emotions. I find myself often recommending therapy to group members. I would never suggest someone do this feeling-work by themselves. To do so would be re-traumatizing; it would mean facing their pain alone, again, as they were made to do in the original trauma. You don’t have to be alone, anymore.
What’s more, is many people are completely unaware that what they experienced as a “normal” childhood was in reality, riddled with abuse. Abuse takes many forms.
Abuse is not letting a child have their feelings. Hair pulling is about not allowing oneself to feel feelings.
Abuse is assigning the child the inappropriate role of care-taker in the family.
Abuse is making the child be mommy’s little surrogate spouse or daddy’s little surrogate wife, called, Emotional Incest. And this is for the most part socially accepted.
Abuse is humiliating the child for their mistakes or short-comings. Abuse is yelling, screaming, raging at the child and in general, being scary.
Whether you are the abuser or the abused…
Get willing to get help. You are now an adult; no one is going to come to your rescue. You will get help when you seek it and not a moment sooner. Change is possible so long as you are willing and take action.
An excerpt from “For Your Own Good,”
There will surely also be some change in parents’ behavior when they learn that what they have previously practiced in good faith as “necessary disciplining” is in reality a history of humiliating, hurting, and mistreating the child.
I am not here to blame the parents. I am here to hold them accountable. Above all, I’m here for the child who still suffers, the wounded inner child in you.
Until an individual is willing to look at their childhood and feel their anger towards their caregivers or abusers- realizing their anger won’t kill them- they will continue to experience symptomatic behavior. Everyone has a story. Everyone tells their story in their actions. Your self destructive patterns don’t lie!
The earth-shattering book that helped me confront the truth about cruelty in child-rearing is “For Your Own Good” by Alice Miller.