Powerless Over My Eyebrows

Throughout my forties, I have gradually gotten used to the fact that “things change”.

One day I woke up and my right boob was just…bigger. (Yes, I scooted in for a mammogram. Diagnosis: Right Boob Bigger.) High heels are no longer my friends. And don’t even get me started on the chin hair phenomenon.

It’s all okay, though. Truly.

I pluck, fluff, adjust and I don’t mind at all. I rather love getting older.

It threw me, however, when I sat down to my dressing table recently and noticed my grandmother’s eyebrows had replaced my own. Oh dear. How did this happen? I have always had great eyebrows, strongly arched and defined. I’d been plucking stragglers and taming the forest between them since I was 12, tinting them since 35, but now at 47 they’d gone rogue. Well, shit.

Ah, but here’s a lesson in everything, my friends.

Sometimes we are moving along, doing things the way we always do, and then suddenly (or so it seems) it all stops working. As a person in recovery, I know this pattern intimately. It worked until it didn’t, and then it needed fixing.

The analogy became crystal clear to me as I was lying in an esthetician’s chair for my emergency eyebrow repair consultation.

Katie had been recommended by a friend with excellent browscaping. Serious business, this was.  Peering through a suspended lit magnifying glass, Katie silently measured my face and lifted individual hairs delicately with a metal tool to assess the situation. At last, she spoke quietly and gravely.

“I can fix this, but I need you to stop everything you’ve been doing. Come back in two weeks. Do not touch them between now and then.”

I don’t think she understood. That might work for everyone else, but I am different. I’m special.

“Um, well you see, I normally pluck them every day. Like, I have to pluck them every day. So, there’s no way I could go for two weeks. That’s, um, impossible. I am sure that’s the normal process, and not to undermine your expertise, but I just can’t do that. My grandfather was Scottish.”

She was having none of it.

“Just pull your bangs forward. And quit trimming them.”

“My bangs?”

“No, your eyebrows. You’ve been cutting them. Stop that.”

I gasped. She could tell I trimmed my eyebrows? My secret shame exposed! I was horrified. Could she see up my nostrils as well? Oh God.

“I have to,” I whispered dryly. “They….grow…. long….like a man’s.”

It was too late for crying. She knew everything now. I hated those long-growing hairs so much that I had become accustomed to trimming them and pretending it never happened. The shame was buried so deep inside my heart; I hadn’t even thought to mention it.

“Oh Jean,” she said kindly. “Lots of women gets those, it happens. But cutting them is what has ruined your eyebrow shape over time.”

Wait, what? I was causing this to happen? My efforts to fix things were making them disastrously worse? I exhaled.  The solution was worsening the problem? Three-plus years of sobriety had prepared me well for this moment.

“I surrender,” I said and pulled my bangs forward.

Two weeks later I was back in Katie’s chair. A flurry of activity was being carried out above me but I rested quietly and felt the dobbing of tint, then a warm swipe of wax and the sharp tug of removal. It was all out of my hands. I was utterly powerless. I had to trust and wait, and stop doing everything that I’d thought was working so well.

I confess I catch myself in the mirror now and look a moment longer. It will take some time to get used to the change, but I truly see improvement. This is a much better way. I am trusting the process.

My name is Jean and I am a person in successful long-term recovery from alcohol addiction and eyebrow plucking.


  1. I can totally relate to this post although for me this week I have been told daily hair washing is destroying my hair! The thought of not washing my hair each day is just disgusting but I have relinquished control and I am trying it my hairstylists way. The first couple days I was miserable! Now I am on week 2 of every other day washing and I hate to admit it but she may have been right!!!! Oh how I hate being wrong! Lol your post was great!!


  2. Jean- wait I am going to look up my sober days…184! You, my friend, your voice, real and razor sharp smart and hilarious, were my treasure, my connection that supported me when noone even knew of the radical change I was attempting. This eyebrow post had me in stitches. The gut wrenching humanity involved in the tiniest of situations—ultimately our most personal experiences are indeed the most universal. (You,Seinfeld, and Shakespeare completely get this.) My brows are balding- a shame you couldn’t have cut yours and sent them to me…xo


  3. LOL Oh, how I can relate. I have the opposite problem. It seems like overnight my eyebrows are sparse and my eyelashes are not growing. As I was driving one day, I started crying…I know very over dramatic. I’m a little obsessed with trying to find natural cures. Olive oil, almond oil, castor oil for growth. I recently had them both tinted and they still don’t look very good unless I fill my brows with powder and load mascara on my lashes. Been following you for a while. I’m five days sober today.


  4. You so cheered me up today Jean! I’m in sore need of a laugh. 30 days sober and I’m just full of rage. Rage at myself mostly I think. I have a friend with excellent eyebrows if a little thin, I might ask her where she goes. I seem to be physically falling apart, dry skin, broken sores in various bits, hair uncut for years. I sound like a peach eh. Need to start taking care of myself. Thank you for reminding me that looking after yourself is critical!

    Enjoy your new eyebrows.

    You are an inspiration, drinking in private and recovering privately is a challenge I struggle with most days. Thank you.


    • Self care, Daisy. Lots of it.And please don’t confuse recovering in private with with isolating – it is that one alcoholic behaviour that we can all slide into and it is a sneaky one. The anger is part of grieving the loss of your best friend alcohol, it is a stage and it will pass. Work your way through it by being very gentle with yourself and celebrate your milestones. 30 DAYS!!! You have a reason to cheer, and maybe treat yourself to a reward. There is some beautiful recovery jewelry on etsy.com (and Ellie from The Bubble Hour and OneCraftyMother has a great shop here: http://twolittlebirdsstudio.com/product-category/recovery-jewelry/). Be good to yourself, and post here often for encouragement and support. xo


      • Thanks Jean. I’m retreating further and further into my own wee bubble, so I think maybe I need to watch that. Beautiful jewelery (we use more vowels here, no idea why!) and thanks very much.


  5. HAHAHAHA, this was so much fun to read… Nothing better than straight-faced comedy 🙂

    Ahhh, I can so relate.. The day before a big event we were all supposed to look perfect for, I took a trimmer to my eyesbrows and chop half of one side off by mistake… You don’t even want to know…


  6. Great post. Eyebrow hair, chin hair, lip hair, the pleasures of aging. In the past it seemed as the only time I did anything to these errant hairs was when I was drunk. I have to say things are much note orderly now that I landscape sober. 🙂


  7. LOL. This was a great post and totally what I needed to read today. Everything changes during every decade we make it through. I’m in my 30s wondering what is going on, lol. Thanks for this!!


  8. Ha, Ha, Ha, lol, I recently was at the hairstylist. Getting my usual baby blonde highlights.. Because, heck no am I caving in… not ever! I asked the hairdresser to add just a little tint to the eyebrows. She completly forgot because I have no hair to the lateral aspects. Next I will be going bald!
    Help! I laughed sooo hard…Great posting!


  9. Wow! I thought it was ONLY me! Do you really mean to say, I should NOT be trimming my European descendent eyebrows? Bangs are now set forward and tomorrow I make an appointment to get the suckers tamed, tinted and waxed properly.


    • I am sure it is possible to do it yourself and do it well. I think I lacked good technique which caught up with me as the suckers became increasingly um, vigorous. So if yours look okay, then you’re golden. But if they morph into Grandma…or worse Grandpa!…then get your ass to the salon!


  10. Lol I enjoyed this. I’ve been well aware for some time that my eyebrows need reshaping and now that I’ve crossed 40 they seem to be doing their own thing. You’ve inspired me to go for a proper consultation and lucky for me, I too have bangs to hide the in between. 🙂


  11. Funny shit! I wish I had eyebrows to pluck. I pencil mine in. I’d give anything to have your problem! That’s my alcoholic thinking, comparing and feeling like I’m never good enough. 😊


  12. Oh my gosh, thank you for the marvelous laugh today! What an honest post on an awkward topic you have shared with us.

    My father, Scottish English ancestry, has eyebrows that look like he’s related to Einstein. When visiting with him, I mentally add “eyebrow maintenance” to the list of things to remember as I age.


  13. Hi Jean,

    I loved this post.

    I recently let my hair grow very long, because (a) my wife wanted me to, and (b), I started to like the fact that I didn’t have to style it, buy product, or even care.

    I realised that for years I had styled my hair, not because it made me feel good, but because I was worried about what other people would think.

    This reminded me of sobriety, and the reason that so many people drink alcohol, despite not even wanting to.

    So do I still have very long hair?


    In the end, I gave up – it was bloody long though – because my son said he wouldn’t walk alongside me if I didn’t get it cut.

    No will power 🙂



  14. OMG!! The only reason I will not go get them professioanlly done is because I KNOW they will ask me to stop plucking, trimmming, and cutting for 2 weeks too!! I cannot even fathom that! And the grey that is coming in…..oh boy. Although not thinking about it or doing it (plucking/trimming) for 2 weeks would be such a stress release. You brave woman!!! You have given me courage to MAYBE rethink this idea. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  15. First I have to say “thank you” because your blog is the first blog I can across as I was starting my journey to being and staying sober. I read every last blog and it helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. I related to EVERYTHING, including your OCD issue. But what finally made me comment? Eyebrows!! I have realized I have been overplucking and am letting them grow in, which I haven’t done in many years. I’m feeling ok about it though, it’s just one of the many changes I’m going through. DAY 34 and counting!


    • Congratulations on 34 beautiful crystal clear days. Maybe they haven’t all felt perfect but you have been perfectly sober and that is a wonderful thing! I am honoured to know that my story has resonated with you, that our experiences are shared. That is the best discovery of all! That we are not special or unique, that there are others JUST LIKE US and we should not be ashamed of our past but PROUD of our recovery.You deserve a massage and a pedicure to go along with that brow wax!


  16. Ah yes…. Brilliant analogy Jean! Surrender and trust and not going it alone! Life sure becomes clearer eh? Thanks for posting today xx


  17. This made me laugh Jean as my eyesight is going so trying to pluck eyebrows while looking over my reading glasses in the magnifying mirror is a near impossibility! The plus side is I can’t see them growing back in-between visits to have them tidied. What the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve right? 😉 xx


  18. Congrats on sobriety and awesome eyebrows!

    My esthetician remarked a few years ago that I was growing a unibrow. I had already discovered this was happening and kind of hoped it would go away. When she had to wax between my brows for the first time, I cried as I drove home. I have had one gray hair for years, but the unibrow broke me. Don’t get me started on nose hairs.


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