Thursday, 4 July 2013

Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk

Yesterday I went to see "She Who Does Magic with my Hair".   She has been on maternity leave and has just gotten herself set up in her house to handle clients a few days a week.  Last I saw her in January, she was round with her son and she actually came to my house to do my hair.....heavy bags and 4 year old daughter in tow.  She had left the salon she was at and was just doing a few select clients before the baby came.  Yeah for me!
 
Nine years ago, E was standing in the window of a hair salon in the mall; her hot pink chunky streaks looked amazing and convinced me that if she could pull off that---she could certainly handle a few highlights in my hair.  I think she was 17 at the time?
 
She has seen me through one pregnancy and I have seen her through two.   We've talked about our partners, our kids, our moms (her mom and I are actually the same age--yeah that made me feel old) and our families.  Over the years, we have gotten to know each other quite well I thought--considering I see her maybe 4 times a year---which actually should make her my best friend since I see NO ONE ELSE that often.  Remember---social phobia---social isolation--big favs of mine.
 
After a big hug--I sat in her beautiful living room where she had set up shop.  After some small talk we got down to business....

"Now what are we doing with your hair?"'
"I don't know."
"Well you were saying you wanted to go really short again. And maybe blonde?"
"Yeah.  I don't know."
"Well this length looks good on you. Are you liking the length?  The longer bangs?"
"Yeah.  Maybe I should grow it."
"Oh you want to grow it? Sure...you can do that...it is getting pretty long--you still have that icky middle stage to go through."
"Maybe it should be short. I don't like the icky stage."
"Ah.....ok.....short short or just short-er?"
"I don't know."

I knew what was happening here.  It has become familiar.  In this stage of recovery---I just can't make decisions very well.  I have a few big decisions looming in the future and I am hoping and praying there will be some enormously gigantic sign to tell me what to do.  So I need to save my Ka-POW
moments and not waste them on hair decisions.
 
E frowned.
"Ok this is not like you.  I need some help here. What is going on with you?"
 
So I took a deep breath and decided to be vulnerable...to reach out and to tell my story.  This was the first time I was going to tell anyone and I had no idea what to expect.
 
The words tumbled out of me.
 
"I have to tell you something and I really haven't told anyone.  I have been off work for over six months on stress leave.  So with my hair I am trying to tell you I don't need it to look business sleek and good because I am not there--I am outside a lot ---need something easy but also don't want to look to boring and flat and 46.  Part of what I am going though---I can't make decisions very well.  But I trust you."
 
E took a step back. 
 
"Oh.  Ok.  So --let's start with the color---more blended I think. So we keep the dark because you like that ---and add a caramel warm brownish blonde---nothing too chunky or white blonde. How does that sound?  And we will discuss the cut later?"
 
"Sounds perfect!"
 
"I'll just go mix your color."
 
What had I done?!  I sounded like a complete lunatic!!!  Maybe she was going to call the police.....  Or call her partner to come and sit on the couch and keep an eye on me.  She was certainly NOT going to let me hold her five month old son who I was dying to see.  Maybe she would ask me to leave? If I stayed, these were going to be the most uncomfortable 3 hours of my life.
 
When she came back----sans police---I didn't know what to say so I brilliantly exploded with, "I'm doing better.  I am taking medication so don't worry I am not going to go crazy or anything while I am here." (was I talking exceptionally loud? Oh God....)
 
"I know, I know.  I am just sorry it has happened and I am glad you are doing better.  Were you off work then when I saw you in January?"

“In separateness lies the world’s great misery, in compassion lies the world’s true strength.” ~Buddha

Over the next three hours I shared my story with her--hitting the highlights--and surprisingly as we went along...she shared her own stories.  Her parents, her sisters, herself, her spouse---anxiety, depression, how they manage, how they work through it, how they cope and support each other and take it as part of who they all are.  Some of the struggles she had gone through in the recent past she had told me about now took on a new feeling as she revealed what they did to her own sense of self and purpose and how closely they were monitoring her as it started to spiral. 

Suddenly it was me with my mouth open, nodding in agreement.  Courage, compassion, connection.  Here they were. 

I thought I knew E after 9 years.  I had only known the E that she showed me at work.  We all have those faces, those masks but there is often so much going on underneath we never know. 

I was so proud of what she had been working through on her own! I wanted to say, "I hear you. I love you! You are amazing!" --the connection of one person to another through shared stories. It can fill you up with compassion as I had never known.

My hair full of tinfoil --I held her baby boy. Who smiled and drooled and held my hand and was soft and warm and adorable.  With the dryer on to set the color--E sat with me perched on the edge of the couch and we talked more...maybe it was something she didn't talk much about either?  I don't know---or maybe--having seen so much of it--she wanted to be there for me.

When I got home I sent her a text. I was too emotional when I was there to say what was in my heart (chicken maybe--but one step at a time---ok?)

hey u.  wanted to say thanks for being so wonderful today and sharing ur little man and your own story with me.  It means a lot that the first time I decided to tell someone about what I am struggling with, I was so graciously accepted for who I am.  warts and all (eww ok no warts!)

Her reply came later that evening.

Hey no worries...I'm sorry to hear about what you are going through but I know personally how nice and comforting it is to hear about someone else's experience and talk to someone who can really relate so I was happy to share that with you.  Thanks for trusting and opening up.  Keep focusing on "you" and making positive changes that allow you to be a as stress-free as possible (that's how vicious cycle starts:  stress=anxiety=depression) and to rebuild your confidence.  Take as much time as you need. I really do find reading positive/motivational/inspirational quotes etc. very helpful myself in learning how to perceive things in a more calm, rational way and how to control my thoughts (power of positive thinking). I think you are a wonderful person and a fantastic mom.  Try not to be so hard on yourself :) You will get through

Yesterday was an awesome day. 

3 comments:

  1. Indeed, what an awesome day. We are more alike than different. We belong to each other. All of us. You were so brave and I am excited for the next step in your journey.
    Have you ever read Momastery.com? I think you might enjoy it. The author, Glennon Doyle Melton, just published a book called Carry On, Warrior. Here's my review: http://ayearbythebooks.com/2013/04/10/blog-to-book-carry-on-warrior/ Her writing and life reflects the hard work of being vulnerable and striving for connection. I think it might resonate with you.

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  2. Hi Jennifer! Oh yes, I love Momastery! I have her book on my mental list! See I have a pile on the nightstand! Part of getting through my depression and anxiety has been I lost the ability to read! (Scary stuff for a former teacher and current librarian!) So I am slowly coming back. Non-Fic I have to do in tiny chunks! I am working slowly through Brene Brown's "The Gifts of Imperfection" --and am half way through her Daring Greatly. But I will put Glennon on my list. I read her posts--and post some there too! I look forward to reading your review and spending some time on your blog!

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  3. I sooo know what you are talking about here. Whenever I make the scary decision to open up a little to someone and tell them a piece of my story, I always second guess myself halfway through and ask myself, "Oh, Gosh! Do I sound crazy? Am I saying too much? Does this person give a crap about what I'm talking about?" But, as your stories tells, it was worth it. You both connected and shared and felt less alone because you were brave enough to say that you are not OK. I'm learning that pretending like you have all your crap together will only make you unapproachable because NO ONE has their crap together. When you are vulnerable, open up, and admit that you are imperfect....that's when people say, "Me too." and we all realize that we are not as alone as we so often feel. Love ya, Brigid!

    Oh! And, I second Jennifer's recommendation! Read "Carry On, Warrior" whenever you are able to...I know that you'll love it. :)

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