Apparently, my midlife crisis happened in a hair salon.
I’ve always been one to play with my hair. Long, short, bangs, color, you name it, I’ve tried it.
My latest adventure involved highlights. I walked in to a new salon with a head of dark red from an old stylist and asked a new stylist to change me.
“I don’t know what, but I know lighter.” I said.
“Highlights?” She asked.
“Maybe. I just know that now this color makes me look old and tired and sad and grey.”
“Highlights.” She said in a way that communicated that maybe I was asking her to fix an issue deeper than my hair.
What followed then was a small addiction to blonde. Every appointment I wanted more. Lighter and lighter I’d go, bouncing out of each appointment with my luxurious mane blowing behind me expecting that NOW in front of me lay the promise of glamour and joy.
Then a week would pass and I’d look in the mirror and not recognize anything except the black brows. Nothing felt lighter, or less grey. There was no glamour or joy.
I’d complain that I didn’t like the color as it was growing out. So we’d go lighter, convinced that just a little more blonde would make me love it more.
The problem was, my hair color wasn’t the problem at all. I uncovered the root, if you will, one day looking at old photos on Facebook. There was one of me, about 3 years ago, post hair appointment. My hair was big and bouncy and decidedly brown.
The real kicker though was my smile. There was real joy behind it. A light in my eyes that came from somewhere deeper than my hair color. I remembered that day. I remember how my life was going at the time. I remember how I felt then. And those memories were good. I was aligned with myself; working, playing and resting just as I was meant to do. Life wasn’t free of troubles, but I felt whole enough to handle them as they came. I loved myself. I loved my life. I loved my hair.
Turns out, when I came into the salon a year ago asking Tiffany to help me go lighter, the light that I was desperately searching for wasn’t on my head at all. The light I was trying to find was the one that had gone out in my soul.
Sometimes hair isn’t just hair but a metaphor for a much bigger mess.
Recently, I made a decision. I gave myself some space to slow down and figure some stuff out. I should be clear, I’m not giving myself credit for self-care here. I only “decided” to slow down after my body SCREAMED at me in pain (back, knee, neck) until I could no longer ignore the not so subtle requests to for room to breathe.
In the space and time of slowing down, I realized I was treating myself so badly, I would surely punish any child of mine who acted this way toward anyone in their lives.
I had worked so hard to get to a place that I thought would hold the satisfaction and peace I so desired. As it turns out when I got to this mythical place there is no magical happiness here. No magic doors have been unlocked. No gift-box full of peace was wrapped and waiting for me.
When first I realized this truth, I turned on myself. How could I be so stupid to pursue these selfish goals that weren’t going to mean anything in the end? Turns out, I am excellent at punishing myself for mistakes.
I overeat. I overspend. I over criticize and I quit doing anything I love.
Apparently, I also turn to outside sources to transform me into someone else. Someone I could love more. Someone lighter and happier and…blonde.
Luckily, I’m gifted with a penchant for introspection, so these identity crises tend to only last for a year or so (and almost always 30 pounds.). This time, my body wouldn’t allow the self-hate and misalignment to go unchecked. It’s hard to not examine my soul when every single part of my skeleton hurts under the literal and metaphorical weight of my neglect.
What I found when I turned in, was the need to find me again. I got lost somewhere in the swirl of expectations and opportunities and the speed of life blowing by.
I wish I could say I was where I need to be. I’m not. I’m still working every day on loving myself. I mean really loving, not tolerating or accepting or appreciating, or, worst of all, pushing love off until later when I’ve earned it by achieving some self-imposed goal.
I’ve done all of the above for years and each practice only leads to loathing in due time.
This time, I’m working on love. The unconditional kind that I have an unending capacity of and seem to easily offer to others. It’s finally time to share with me.
I’m not there yet. But I’m on the road. So far, it seems the journey starts with gratitude and a return to my brown roots (with maybe a few highlights.😉).
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.