IT IS A BIG DEAL TO ME

I understand that in the larger scheme of things losing one’s hair is a very small thing.  But guess what?  Being told by well-meaning people that I ‘just need to get over it,’ that ‘it will grow back,’ that I should ‘just embrace my bald head;’ none of these are helpful to me right now.  It is disrespectful and even hurtful.  That may have been your experience, but, as of right now, it isn’t mine.  I am sad, and I cannot even cry about it, as I am still in shock and my tears are still stuck in my body.  I think the hardest thing  is now I actually look sick.  While I still had my hair, I may have been sick, but I still looked relatively normal.  Now, not so much.

So tomorrow morning I am going back to the salon to get my head shaved.

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HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW???

I have consistently bitched and moaned about my hair for as long as I remember.  Unbelievably, I was actually born with straight, smooth hair.   After puberty, my hair came in as bush head.  This is not normal.  The texture of my hair completely changed, suddenly having a rough cuticle, thus beginning the love-hate (mostly hate) relationship I’ve had ever since.

When I was 12 and 13 years old, I would wash my hair and put it in a ponytail at the base of my neck, and then proceed to put rubber bands all the way down the hair in an effort to make it straight.  Then I’d put bobby pins all along my hair-line for the same reason.  This sort of worked, but both the booby pins and the rubber bands would leave marks, and my hair never completely dried because it was so thick.  I also tried the orange juice can rollers.  Not at all comfortable to sleep on.  And by the time I was 14 years old, I had joined the swim team and was diving every day, so after that my hair was pretty much a chlorine mess all the time.

Fast-forward to 2001 when I moved to West Hollywood and had my hair flat-ironed for the first time.  Wow!  What a huge difference that made.  After my hairdresser finished and I felt how smooth my hair was and how shiny, neither of which I had since puberty, I really wondered if she had given me a hair transplant without me realizing.  Seriously, my hair felt so good.  It was then that I finally truly understood what having hair with a rough cuticle meant.  It would be several more years before I got my own flatiron and could make my hair magically smooth without paying gobs of money for someone else to do it.

All through the early 2000’s I kept my hair relatively short–I’d get it cut to right above my shoulders, let grow for a year and then cut it again to the same above my shoulders length.  Somewhere around 2010, I decided to just let it grow.  I mean, why not?  I had nothing better to do, and it really is easier to have it longer since all I do is put it on top of my head because it bugs me.  And while it has not been quite as long in the last couple of years, it is still longer than it is shorter.  Basically, I am super lazy when it comes to my hair.  Now, though, the prospect of losing it all is really doing a number on me.  If I chose to shave my head, that would be one thing; I did not choose this, it is simply coming out because of the chemotherapy.

Last Thursday, I got my hair cut.  My intention was that it be cut to chin length.  When I got to the salon and my hairdresser took out my pony tail holder, it still wasn’t apparent how bad things really were.  So his assistant attempted to wash it.  I told her that I always put conditioner on my hair first, before shampoo, because it helps detangle it.  And I use if after, as well.  She did not listen, although I am not sure it really would have made a difference at this point.  When I got back in Patrick’s chair, I thought he was gong to cry.  My hair had literally turned into dreadlocks, and there was nothing to do but cut it all off.  Luckily, that did not mean shaving my head, it just meant I was not going to be walking out of there with the hair cut I thought I’d be getting.  I did not take into account just how far along in the losing-all-my-hair-process I really was.  He did a really nice job (see picture below) with the only mistake he made being he used hair spray on it.  After a while it felt like helmet hair and I had to wash it out.

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Big mistake on my part.  Again, once water hit my hair, even though it was considerably shorter, I suddenly had dreadlocks.  This time I simply could not cut off the 3 big gobs of hair.  Instead, I painstakingly sprayed each one with leave in conditioner and slowly, but ever so slowly, used a comb to untangle the mess.  It took about half an hour and this is what I combed out:

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Half a sink full of my hair.  If I did not have as much hair as I do, I for sure would already be bald.  Unbelievably, today, Sunday, I still have hair, and while it doesn’t look great, it also does not look like I’m about to be bald as a cue ball.

Look, I understand it’s just hair and that it will grow back.  This is still extremely difficult, even as my hair drives me crazy, though.  I’ve been shopping for a wig.  Even found a couple that aren’t horrible, but they look like wigs.

As I have my second round of chemo on Tuesday, I don’t expect that I’ll have what’s left of my hair much longer, which means I am going to have to make a decision sooner rather than later about my hair situation.  What I really want is for it not to fall out at all.  Clearly, though, that ship has sailed.

 

NEVER A DULL MOMENT IN MY LIFE

Is this a good thing?  Well, at times it can be very exciting.  At others, not so much.  It seems I barely get through one thing and another rears its not-so-pretty head.  I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and that whatever it is, it moves us along our path.  Take my sexual assault–I knew right from the moment it happened that it would teach me many things, that it was, in fact, necessary to get me to the next phase of my life.  And as difficult as it was, I was okay with it.  Truth be told, though I am 98% healed from that whole ordeal, I still have certain triggers that set me off and either make me cry or really piss me off.  I am beginning to realize this may be a life-long thing, that I will never be 100% over it.  This, too, is okay.

For what is happening now in my life, however, I am definitely not seeing the big picture yet.  I know I am still in shock, and it still does not seem real.  Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  This is something I never, ever, ever thought would happen in my life.  I have no family history of any type of cancer.  I am super active and have been my entire life; I mostly eat very cleanly, though I definitely have a serious sugar addiction, which I fight sometimes more successfully than others.  Still, overall, as my wonderful husband put it the other day, “You look too beautiful and too healthy to be sick.”

Currently I am being biopsied and ultrasounded and MRId and PET scanned and poked and prodded to make sure I am, in fact, as healthy as I look.  The type of breast cancer I have is very rare; I am triple positive, which as I understand it means that estrogen, progesterone and a hormone called Her2 are over-expressing and have caused a tumor to form.  As of right now, I begin chemo on Tuesday.

I have told very few people of my diagnosis, until this very moment, that is.  I am still getting used to it and talking about it makes it more real, which I don’t want it to be.  My reason for sharing this with all of you is I am asking for your prayers.  I do know that prayer is powerful and I need all the help I can get.  Thank you in advance.

So begins another journey I do not wish to be on.

OUT, BUT THANKFULLY, NOT ON THE STREET

The day I’ve been dreading since DCD was sentenced to prison on 25 June 2012 has arrived.  I knew it would eventually get here, and have known since 21 June that the date he would be released was today,  11 August 2017.

While I was on vacation in Zion in July, I received a call from a probation officer with further details of DCD’s release.  Although he is getting out, he is not being released to the ‘street’ as the officer told me.  He is being sent to the state mental hospital in Atascadero, a city in San Luis Obispo County, half-way between SanFrancisco and Los Angeles.  The facility is for men only and has approximately 1184 beds.  The largest group of patients, 48%, are considered Mentally Disordered Offenders (Penal Code 2962/2971.)  According to the hospitals web site, “Parolees who committed one of a specified list of crimes and who were treated for a severe mental disorder connected to their original crime can be committed to a state hospital as a condition of parole for a period not to exceed the length of their parole term.  If the person still requires treatment at the end of their parole term, they can be civilly committed under P.C. 2972 if it is determined that they are a substantial danger to themselves or others. These commitments last for one year and may be renewed annually by the court.”

I am hopeful that he will receive the help he needs.  I also know that he has to want to be helped, and I am afraid that is not the case.  All the help he had prior to my attack did nothing to stop his escalating behavior.  I am just very fortunate that my guardian angel came along and saved me before he was able to follow through with his intention to rape me.

I was also told that once he is out of the hospital, if he is released into the county that I am living in at that time, I have the option of having him removed to another county.  I guess that gives me a small degree of comfort.  As I’ve said before, though, I do not believe he will come after me.  That has never been, nor is it now, my fear.  At the same time, however remote the chance, I do not wish to run into him on the street.  Ever.

As I said at the end of my last post, I do pray for him and truly hope that no one else ever has to experience what I did on  September 24, 2011.

 

 

NOT GOOD NEWS

I received a letter in the mail today from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  Inside in big, fat, black letters it said —-

NOTICE OF RELEASE – CONFIDENTIAL

This notice is provided at your request.  The inmate is scheduled for release.

The inmate will be:

Released to parole under CDCR supervision.

The inmate is required to register pursuant to:

Penal Code Section 290 – Sex

 

It also has other information about his name, prison number, scheduled release date and which county he will be released into.  What the letter does not tell me is how long his parole lasts.  Let’s just say I am happy I am not longer in the same county.  And it is not so much that I am afraid of him or that I think he’ll come after me.  No, it’s more I simply do not like the idea of him being anywhere near me.  Do I think he has been rehabilitated?  That would be a resounding NO.  Given the violence of my attack, his lack of remorse at the sentencing and the fact that he will have spent almost 62 months in prison, I seriously doubt he will be anything but angry.

I do pray for him and truly hope that no one else ever has to experience what I did on  September 24, 2011.

 

NOT AT ALL RIGHT

Yes, it has been a long time, over 5 months since my last post.  With all the changes taking place in my life, I simply did not take the time to write.  More on that later.  Right now, though, I need to vent about an incident that just occurred.

As many of you already know, my husband and I have moved away from Coronado, up the California coast to Ventura.  We are still in the process of doing our best to settle in.  That is also a story for another time.  This morning, though, I was taking my walk.  It was not even early because it was so cold last night, I had to wait until it warmed up a bit before leaving the house.  Not that the house is warm!  Anyway, I was walking one of my longer routes that takes me down Main Street and out to the bike path along the Ventura River Estuary and to the path along the ocean.  As has always been my habit, when I see someone passing me from the opposite direction I say, “Good morning.”  I think it is simply a polite thing to do.  I am not looking to engage you in conversation.  I am only acknowledging that I see you and that it is morning.  After I made the turn onto the beach path, I said ‘good morning’ to a guy on a bicycle.  He then proceeded to start yakking at me.  I did not slow down or respond to him and I have no idea what he even said, nor did I care.  Little did I know that he followed me.  Didn’t know it until I went to cross the street to go up and over the 101.  I wasn’t scared, but I was pissed.

He then continued to follow me at a distance.  I did not turn around because I didn’t want him to know that I knew he was back there.  After a few blocks I was able to look back when I crossed another street.  My main concern was that he not know where I live, so I started zig zagging on blocks.  I ran when he was unable to see me to put even more space between us.  I eventually wound my way around to my house and, again, made sure he was not able to see where I live before crossing the street and going up the driveway.

I came in the house and told my husband what had happened.  And now I’m telling all of you.  My questions are:  Which part of I-am-completely-ignoring-you-and-anything-you- have-to-say-to-me do you not understand?  Why do you think it is okay to follow someone who has clearly NOT engaged with you in any way other than to be polite and say good morning?  What gives men (I know this is a huge generalization here, but my experience has been it is men and not women) the ‘right’ to harass someone who is clearly not interested?  Do I have to be a bitch in order to get my intent across?  Now, given my history, this is an even bigger deal than it might otherwise be.

Part of the reason we left Coronado was that I continue to not feel completely safe.  I do understand that it wasn’t Coronado who attacked me, and I was able to go back to loving living there again.  And yet, there is still a part of me that was hoping a new place might, just might, allow me to feel safe like I did pre-sexual assault.

I am not saying that the guy this morning was anything other than a normal person, BUT I wanted nothing to do with him and he was ignoring this.  Is it kinder to tell someone to ‘fuck off and leave me alone?’  Okay, maybe not in those words, but why should I have to specifically spell it out?  I have been accused of being a stuck-up snob because I don’t speak to people, and yet when I do, I am followed.  I have also been told that I seem to have a shield around me and a look on my face when I am walking that says, ‘don’t fuck with me.’  Most of the time this works at keeping unwanted attention away, not always though.

So, is my only recourse to not speak to anyone ever when I am out walking?  Is it okay to say good morning to women but not men?  I seem ‘damned if I do, damned if I don’t’ in this situation.

BIG CHANGES ARE A COMING

Change is a part of life.  Sometimes, though, it seems that changes happen so fast and furious that it’s hard to maintain any kind of balance.  It feels, at times, like the world is even spinning faster than ever.  We want everything right now.  We ask or pray for something in our lives and do not understand why it doesn’t instantly manifest.  Some changes are welcome, some not so much.

My life has been changing in huge ways for the last several years.  Since there seems no way around this, I’ve decided to embrace it.  So my word for 2017 is CHANGE and my phrase is EMBRACE CHANGE.  I think my biggest change I encountered last year was getting married, which was/is a wonderful thing.  I am happy to say that I am finally in the perfect (perfect for me) relationship and married to the right person for me.  Still, going from single, living alone to married and suddenly having someone around all the time is an adjustment.  Not a bad thing, just different.  Luckily, even though my husband and I both work at home and we live in a pretty small house, this has not been an issue.

One change I’ve been wanting to make for a while now is figuring out a way to combine both of my blogs since I find trying to write two completely different ones impossible. I never wanted to have A Little of This That and the Other (www.alittleofthisthatandtheother.blogspot.com) be anything but a happy place to share my work and that of my friends.  At Long Last Heard, this site, was about my sexual assault and to a larger degree,  my past life and how I got to where I am now.  The two sites are extremely different.  After my wedding I came up with a new domain name and a ‘plan’ to have only one blog/website.

I still have not figured out when I want to launch it, though I will tell you the new name:  Exactly the Same but Different.  This is a phrase I have used for many years and in talking with a very good friend, it was obvious that this was the new name.  Because my life now is exactly the same as it always was, but different.

Another HUGE change that is coming in the next few months is we will be moving.  Egad, just writing the word here gives me the willys.  I have lived for almost 15 years on Coronado and the idea of leaving all that is so familiar to me is a bit scary.  Truly, I know that leaving will be a good thing and Jim and I need a house/space that is ours and not just mine that he moved into.  It is good and it is frightening at the same time.  We are even contemplating leaving San Diego altogether, which also adds to my anxiety.  Again, I know this is a good thing, it just doesn’t always feel like it is.

Hence, my desire to EMBRACE CHANGE this year.  Change is good, right?  I am going to keep saying this to myself until I believe it.

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