Ashes

Emotional pain is an insidious thing. Unlike a sprained ankle or a toothache, it burrows into nebulous recesses of the psyche and ‘hides’, until it finds ways to lash out from its dark chambers. Sudden, out-of-nowhere crying fits. Teeth grinding during sleep. Snapping at someone who didn’t deserve it. Still, you carry on, go to work, do grocery shopping, and try to maintain normalcy. What else can you do? Its not the flu which you know will pass eventually after days of bed rest. It’s the state of your life.

Six weeks ago when I sat down in a chair at the salon, my longtime colorist Gil ran his hands through my hair like he always does before he begins my treatment and said, “Do you know you have a bald spot here?”. Whaaattt?? With a large handheld mirror he showed it to me: a big round patch with nothing but the bare skin of my scalp where hair was supposed to be. Because of its location and my long hair, I hadn’t noticed it before. This was not common female-pattern hair loss. This was hair coming out in a concentrated clump. The hell!?? Jump ahead a few weeks and I’ve seen two doctors, a dermatologist, and had two blood tests, fully expecting to discover that I have a thyroid condition or an autoimmune disease or a vitamin deficiency or something – anything – that would explain this. The results? Nothing. There’s nothing physically or medically wrong with me. At one point I sat down a park bench, cell phone to my ear and sobbing a little, and asked the dermatologist what then she thought is causing my hair to fall out. She said, “It has to be stress”. Called the other doctor and asked him the same question. Answer? “It’s stress”.
“Will it grow back?”.
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
“What can I do to stop it?”
“Nothing.”

As if to purposely fuck with me for having seen doctors and had blood tests, my hair loss has accelerated over the past couple of weeks. Huge clumps coming out in the shower. In my hand. On my pillow in the morning. It’s only getting worse.

Two torturous years of family strife will not stop taking their toll on me apparently. The destructive, selfish actions of Chris Hajian, my vain, manipulative brother, have created this hellscape. He has stolen my mother from me with his bullying and brainwashing, made everyone suffer because of his stupid “mid-life crisis”, and walked out on his wife and child. Ever since my father died, my brother (the remaining MAN, of course) has held all the power in the family and he wields it like a weapon. Because that’s what angry, failed men do. Sure Chris Hajian used to be nice guy, way back when. But now he’s just an arrogant, preening douchebag.

After a pivotal, traumatizing event, I decided to stand up for myself once and for all. My mother and my brother were treating me in a way that could only be described as abusive, and I refused to put up with it any longer. I couldn’t for my own sanity and well-being. I expressed my feelings to them, repeatedly. But I was nothing more than voice in the wilderness. Rather than make adjustments in their behavior, and resolve to treat me with love and respect, my mother and brother have just … let me go. That’s how little I’m valued in my family. It’s a profoundly painful, hurtful realization. I have no family anymore, and I’ve already been replaced. This is the thanks I get for being a devoted, supportive daughter; Mom chooses her self-centered, spoiled son in the end. A son who sees her only as his stooge. So yeah, this is seriously painful. Lost the mother I loved so much .. and now losing my hair 😥

It’s Music Monday, and Tom Petty passed away last week. His distinctly American brand of rock and roll gave us so many great songs. Here’s one of my favorites. Thanks for reading, friends …

26 thoughts on “Ashes

  1. kdmedina says:

    So sorry that nothing has improved. It’s all painful, but you’re not alone.

  2. Bill says:

    You know that I’m really sorry that it’s come to this.I am glad that you can talk about this on the blog — if only to serve as a reminder that people do care about you.

    • artmodel says:

      Bill,

      I’ve been trying to avoid discussing this topic on the blog, at least not in detail. But the hair-falling-out problem pushed me over the edge. Had the impulse to vent! I do sometimes need reminders that people care about me. We all do.

      Thanks for your comments and your steadfast friendship …

      Claudia

  3. Carlo says:

    My wife experienced the same thing about 8 yrs. ago. No apparent trauma in her life except the pace and demands of her job. Burning the candle at both ends and long commutes to work. Her hair did grow back as thick as it had ever been. You need peace and normalcy in your life and you can find it. But, don’t stop loving your mother and brother no matter how cruel they have been. It will take time and hopefully they will see the error in their ways. Try yoga or a spiritual retreat. You have good friends who will give you support.

    • artmodel says:

      Carlo,

      I really appreciate you sharing your wife’s experience here. Her stresses and demands are so relatable. I’m glad her hair grew back to normal! Hoping mine will. I do have a lot of hair so that allows me to bide my time somewhat.

      I haven’t stopped loving my mother. That could never happen. My brother though? Warm feelings for him are extremely hard to muster these days. I hope you’re right that, in time, they will see the error in their ways and acknowledge their behavior. In the meantime, my friends have been irreplaceable. And yoga, absolutely! I love it. I go once a week and twice when I can. Wonderful yoga studio just a couple of blocks from my house.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments!

      Claudia

  4. scultore says:

    I know its not the same but you always have a loving family in the community of artists and people you have inspired.

  5. artmodelandrew says:

    Stress really sucks. I find that getting physically away from the day-to-day environment and immersing myself in nature really helps my mental health. The sights, sounds, smells of nature are calming.

    Periodically I see articles about shinrin-yoku, the Japanese term for forest bathing. This NPR article says: <> http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/07/17/536676954/forest-bathing-a-retreat-to-nature-can-boost-immunity-and-mood

    • artmodel says:

      Andrew,

      The NPR article was great, thank you! I’m totally with you about being in nature and taking in the sights and sounds. I’ve felt that way my whole life, since I was a little girl. Even right now as I type this comment, a pair of blue jays are cavorting in the tree outside my window. Going for a walk in the park after I log off. It’s a lovely day. I don’t think there’s anything more therapeutic than nature .. nothing that calms a racing mind better than a simple walk or hike.

      Thanks for your comments, friend.

      Claudia

  6. artmodelandrew says:

    In the past week I’ve been listening to lots of Tom Petty. YouTube is cool for discovering new things. After listening to a bunch of Tom Petty songs, this recommendation showed up: Depot Street with Tom Petty’s band Mudcrutch, predating the Heartbreakers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwGFoGsEGMU

  7. It sounds like you may have alopecia. But I’m not a doctor!! Also, it’s just a name, not much of an answer. I understand hair can come back just fine, better, worse or not at all. I had a spot that turned white.

    If the doctors are right and it is stress related, do those things that work for you to reduce that stress. For me, it’s modeling. I’ve taken to inquiring about modeling work from one new place every evening. And it is paying off. I had no bookings in September (I only model part-time, which is limiting), but now have a booking or two every week. Perhaps more modeling would be a good thing. Yoga, meditating, getting out with good friends, moving on should help. Dwelling on everything is absolutely natural but totally non-productive. It’s certainly is not easy, but the sooner you look forward and stop looking backward (and inward), the better off you will be.

    Know that you are a good person that cares and does good works. I’m 1000 miles away and know that from all of your writings – and I’ve read them all!

    It’s like a vacation to France. You planned on that for a long time, packed clothes, spent money, learned French. But after you got on the plane, it was hijacked and you ended up in Costa Rica. You have the wrong clothes, you don’t speak the language, you’ve got the wrong money and you’ve forfeited all your prepaid hotel stays. It sucks. Do you dwell on everything that went wrong or do you figure out what you would like to do in Costa Rice? Let it go! I’m thinking you should take up modeling in Costa Rica and enjoy what’s there!

    • artmodel says:

      malefiguredrawingmodel,

      The dermatologist had initially identified it as alopecia, as you said. But that condition is usually understood as an immune system issue – mistakenly attacking hair follicles. But then my blood test came back showing no problem with my immune function so that’s what was so puzzling.

      I’m glad to hear that you’ve picked up some more modeling work! It’s gratifying, isn’t it? I work full time and it has absolutely helped me to cope with my problems. Interestingly, I feel more troubled/depressed on my days off than I do on busy work days. That’s surely not a coincidence.

      I hear you about not dwelling on things and moving forward. And while I do agree in principle, it’s a bit tricky for me in that these conflicts are ongoing and involve family. Without going into detail, I still have a close and healthy relationship with my niece (my brother’s daughter) and my sister-in-law (my brother’s ex-wife). Family ‘developments’ get back to me and when I hear about certain things – things I strongly object to but have no control over – it’s distressing. Sorry if that’s vague but hopefully you get the gist of it.

      I appreciate your kind words and your helpful advice. All the support I receive from my blog readers is meaningful to me. Thank you for your comments!

      Claudia

  8. Ken Crocker says:

    I was very moved by your post re family stress. I hope things get better.

    I am a figurative artist and enjoy reading the insights of a life drawing model. I also have a very difficult family situation.

    • artmodel says:

      Ken,

      I’m very sorry to hear that you too are dealing with a difficult family situation. This kind of thing is more common than it should be, and all this conflict and strife is unhealthy for us. I hope things improve for you or, at least, you have effective ways to cope.

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing!

      Claudia

  9. Jennifer says:

    Have just read this and feel profoundly shocked. You’d alluded (tactfully) to there being problems in your family of late, but given how lovingly you’ve reported about them in the past, it’s dreadful to realise the pain and stress they’ve been causing you. I just feel stunned and so sad on your behalf, because no words of support can bring about what you most want, for your family to be back the way it used to be. I hope that at least your mother will at some point see sense and realise that she must support both of her children, in the way that you’ve always supported her. The hair loss is such a worry for you, too, and I hope there will be something that can be done to help in that regard at least. All of your Museworthy followers will be sending you our love and thoughts from afar.
    Thinking of you, Jennifer xx

    • artmodel says:

      Jennifer,

      Thank you, dear friend. It is shocking what’s happened. If someone had told me 15 years ago that I would someday be estranged from my family I’d have told them they were crazy. It’s horrible how one toxic person (my brother in this case) can damage family bonds so severely. I share your hope that my mother will open her eyes and return to being the compassionate, fair-minded person she was for most of her life. My brother has too much power, that’s the problem. And my mother has allowed herself to become weak and subservient to him instead of acting as the matriarch of our family. It’s ridiculous because you’d think that after my father died my brother would have risen to the occasion honorably – like a real man – and resolve take care of and protect the women in his life: his wife, his mother, his daughter. Instead, he’s spun everything around and expects all of us to tend to HIM and HIS needs and make HIM feel validated and special. He’s a narcissist.

      I really appreciate your words of compassion and support, Jennifer. They mean a great deal. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can someday ‘update’ this post with positive news. Not holding my breath though.

      Thank you again for your comments.

      Claudia

      • artmodel says:

        Jennifer … I just want to add something to this comment: my mother blames me for everything and takes responsibility for nothing and treats me like a doormat. She once sat quietly and allowed my vicious, abusive brother to verbally attack me for 15 minutes. I was crying and asked her to tell him to stop. She refused. I started shaking and more crying … and my Mom sat there like a useless lump, never once standing up to her rotten son. She never protects me. She totally ENABLES Chris to abuse people. I finally couldn’t take it anymore, ran out and left the house. I had a breakdown and was unstable for days over the experience. It was cruel and traumatic. TO THIS DAY my mother doesn’t feel that she did anything wrong and literally BLAMES ME. She’s become a terrible person. My family abuses me. During all my battles with depression, neither my mother nor my brother has treated me with compassion. I’ve had to fend for myself with a nasty family.

        I’m adding this comment because I just got off the phone with my mother and she was awful to me. Dismisses everything I say. My brother Chris Hajian has ruined that woman and turned her against me. All this because he refuses to get help for his immoral values, perversions, and spiritual brokenness.

        Claudia

  10. Peta Kylie Tewey says:

    Hello my darling
    I am sorry what has happened with your family and other issues that has stressed you out. I hope and pray that you will all make peace with each other . And I do pray for you.

    Luv
    Peta

    • artmodel says:

      Peta,

      Thank you for your prayers and kind sentiments. I pray too, every day, that things will get better.

      Sending love to you and your family as well …

      Claudia

  11. Just know that you are loved and hopefully you’ll be getting a big bear-hug very soon!

    • artmodel says:

      Todd, bear-hugs work wonders! I’m grateful to have friends both in real life and here on the blog. Thank you so much for your steady support.

      See you soon!

      Claudia

  12. johndrob says:

    Here’s one of my guaranteed stress busters – the joy on the faces of the young musicians, as they sing with Jon Anderson from Yes (old enough to be their grandfather), will bring a smile to every face.

    • artmodel says:

      John, that was wonderful, thank you! What an interesting arrangement. Anderson’s voice is so unique. Indeed, the joy on the young people’s faces warms the heart. Great choice, thanks again!

      Claudia

      • johndrob says:

        Meant to put the link for “I’ve Seen All Good People”, but since it was part of a playlist, I think the first song came up instead. But the entire concert is joyful. I believe the concert was less than 2 years after he was hospitalized with acute respiratory failure after a severe asthma attack, which resulted in his “exit” from Yes when the band didn’t want to wait for him to rest for 6 months. At least he got to sing with them again at the RRHOF induction ceremony earlier this year.

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