I was fortunate enough to attend the BFRB Changemakers reunion in Minneapolis, MN in early October (during BFRB Awareness Week!!!) and it was the first time I was in a room full of people just like me.
Growing up with parents who were super dedicated to helping me with my trichotillomania, I eventually learned there were conventions I could attend. I have a distant memory of my mom bringing me a TLC pamphlet to show me one that was happening just a few hours from where we lived. I remember standing there, jaw on the floor, looking at people on the cover who looked about my age with missing hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. My teenage brain definitely thought, Holy SHIT! They look like me! I might've actually said that out loud. BUT financially and emotionally I wasn't ready to attend. Those things were expensive! And like I said, even if money was no issue, I wasn't ready yet.
Fast forward ~16 years and I'm walking into a room filled with people that I've either met or seen virtually and complete strangers. I am jittery from excitement- so much so that I hold my hands together for fear that people will see they're shaking. They're shaking alright, and it's not from the cold.
I get to hug people that have held a special place in my heart since I began sharing about my trichotillomania in 2018. People I am inspired by and who I consider my heroes. I get to hug people that I made connections with when I was still anonymous on Instagram. I get to hug people that have been on my podcast, Trich Talks. I get to hug people I've just met and listen as they share their story. I get to hug people just like me. I can't believe it!
As I look around the room at familiar and unfamiliar faces I become overwhelmed with gratitude. Everyone in this room is just like me. Every single person. And not only that, they want a better tomorrow for those in the BFRB community. They support the BFRB Changemakers initiative to takeover where TLC left off. To really be there for the community and support those in it.
A warmth fills my body starting in my heart and working it's way toward my fingers and toes. It's not something I've felt before and I can't really pinpoint what it is. Oh wait, I think, this is belonging.