Persistence not Perfection

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Let’s strengthen those weak muscles!

Just persist until you are successful!

My solace tonight as I persist in my journey to recovery from trich comes from comments of some of the people on the Fairlight Bulletin Board posted on Amanda’s Trichotillomania Guide.

Definition of Success

I just wanted to add another observation to all that has been said about making a commitment to not pulling. Think of it as exercise. When I started walking a couple of months ago, I thought a mile was forever. Now that I’ve been walking regularly, my stamina has increased, and a mile goes by quickly. I can’t run a marathon (yet!), but I am stronger. In the same way, as we practice not pulling, we’re building “muscles” that make it easier not to pull. The first couple of weeks are horrible, but then it gets easier–if you persist. I’ve slipped a couple of times over the last month, but each slip has been of short duration, and my attitude has been, “Well, what’s done is done; let’s get back on track.” Am I pull free? Technically, no; but I have a lot more hair now than I did 6 months ago. Plus I have the strength to stop myself in mid-pull and say, “No, I don’t want to do this anymore.” To add another catch-phrase that has helped me: Pull-free isn’t about perfection; it’s about persistence. So I’ve changed my definition of success. Success no longer means being perfectly pull free; it means being persistently pull free. In other words, I’m in this for the long haul, not just until I succumb to a passing urge. I’m not going to beat myself up for failing, because I will fail. (Last time I checked, I was still human.) I’m not going to let a temporary failure push me into a permanent one. But I am going to push myself always to try harder, because little success build longer successes. I can do this! – (Margaret – Bulletin Board – 14/1/98)

The difference between a “try” and a commitment, to me, is that when a try fails – you give up in despair. A commitment means that even when you slip, you realize that this is important and you keep on trying even though it is very hard. We can tell you that if you persevere – the urges will diminish greatly. It may take 3 weeks to a month to get over the worst of it and even then, occasionally, when you least expect it, the urge will come back. But, truly power IS strength over time. The more you say NO the easier it gets. This has been reported here again and again. If you stay committed to not pulling every day for the rest of your life, you will be successful. Things are very difficult for the first month of going pull-free. It is a wild emotional roller-coaster of a ride as you argue back and forth with yourself about the need to put yourself through this h#%@. One thing is certain, barring a miracle, if you do not stop pulling – then you will keep pulling. It is not going to stop on it’s own. We have had one woman in her 70’s and two in their 60’s posting here. This is not about willpower. For me, and others here have had the same experience, it is like a light switch went on. After reading this board for a while, it just became very clear to me that I was going to have to stop pulling out my hair if I wanted hair. That sounds so simplistic. But it really is what happened and I think it all of the time. If my hand goes to my head – A really loud voice says – HEY! – we don’t do that anymore. Power IS strength over time. The longer I go, the weaker trich’s voice gets and the more booming my own voice gets. It feels great. I wish that I could put it in a bottle and give it to each of you. One way that I got over the first week blues was to come to this board and scream. It was in March and April of 1997. I came here and yelled I HATE HAVING TRICH. LIFE ISN’T FAIR. IT DON’T WANT TO DEAL WITH THIS ANYMORE. It felt good to have a place where everyone really understands just how frustrating trich can be. But, then I went on taking a chance on success. I would tell myself, well if this no-pulling thing doesn’t work out, I can always go back to pulling – but, for once in my life, I want to see if I can really stop. Each time I wanted to give in, I just dug down a little deeper (with a lot of help from my friends here) and pledged to keep going for another day. With each day of success came growing power over my trich. (Marge – Bulletin Board – 14/1/98).

Something from Mike Grant
Hair is a not a good way of measuring progress with ttm. Oftentimes progress is incremental with temporary ups and downs but with an overall trend toward recovery and inner growth. If anyone has ever observed a climber making his or her way to a summit, you will notice their path is not a straight ascent upward. Sometimes a grip is momentary lost, a rock gives way, or other anticipated unplanned event occurs and some ground is temporarily ceded, sometimes more than once, before the climber reaches the summit. Success is based upon anticipating the unplanned and continuing on towards the goal. No one plans a lapse any more than a rock climber plans for a rock to give way. However, the experienced climber knows that is to be expected and plans for the eventuality. The same is true for the individual who has ttm. Those that have been the most successful in the long run are those who accepted the inevitable setback as part of the journey towards recovery and planned for its eventuality. This planning involves emotional preparation to deal with the feelings involved. Like the skilled climber, a successful trichster may have their own safety net to fall back upon should a lapse occur. This safety net could be anything from having a support network to going for a short haircut to limit the pulling before significant damage occurs.

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