Second, (and this may seem like a no-brainer to the rest of you, but it is a lesson I recently learned), identify any impending self-destructive coping mechanisms and run away from them—before the self-destruction. Now, self-destruction can look like a lot of different things—it’s the shape shifter of mental illness. Sometimes it looks like five or six pieces of banana cream pie. Sometimes it looks like a really great pair of shoes that you cannot afford, unless you sell one of your children. (Short term gain, long term loss there people—plus, they don’t let you have fancy shoes in the pen.) Sometimes, however, self-destruction is a break with reality whose title phrase is “how hard could it be”. Warning—if you think this, you have either grossly overestimated your abilities, or seriously underestimated the difficulty of the task, which you endeavor to undertake. Put on the music from “Chariots of Fire” and sprint in the opposite direction. (Metaphorically of course, unless you want the neighbors to post the video on “YouTube”.) “How hard could it be” is the plague of positive thinking and it will kill you.
My most recent “how hard could it be” moment started with a simple observation: “I really need a haircut”. Yeah, I know—where was the voice in my mind that was giving this advice then, I ask you? Probably drowned out by the slightly louder and slightly crazier voice saying, “Use the razor instead of scissors. That’s what Stella does.” (Stella is the woman that has been cutting my hair for ten years, and p.s., she’s probably going to break up with me now). So … I picked up my razor—the one I use to shave my legs, super professional—and I started hacking away at my hair. I know.
I finished the front and sides and as much to my surprise as anyone’s, it looked pretty good. Unfortunately for me, and contrary to the lie I’ve been telling my children for basically their entire lives, I do not actually have eyes in the back of my head, and it’s hard to hold a mirror and razor at the same time. Well what would you have done? I went with a kind of Zen-mystic style of hair cuttery, where you become one with the blade and feel your way through the task without actually watching what you are doing. You use your spiritual eyes instead really. Good for motorcycle maintenance and midwifery, not so much for cutting your own hair. I must admit that cleaning out the razor after each pass over my head was pretty rad.
My cutter’s high came to a screeching halt when I finally looked in the mirror. The funny thing is that I actually expected to see a high quality hair cut back there. What I got instead was a jagged mixture of short and shorter hair with two literally bald spots where I had apparently and unknowingly taken my hair off at the scalp. How I could not have felt this I do not know, I guess I was in “the zone”. (I’m blaming the Bible for all of this, by the way. I think that those stories of people like Job that shaved their heads and covered themselves in ashes when things went wrong really spoke to me. I’m not blaming God. I like Him a lot. I just think that those stories should come with some kind of warning. Like blow dryers that say, “Do not use while sleeping,” and stuff like that.)
My husband was called in to repair the damage—because he is a trained cosmetologist. (And when I say trained, I mean that he cuts my six-year-old son’s hair so that we don’t have to shell out fifteen bucks for a buzz cut at Great Clips.) He had about as many options as a field surgeon in the Civil War. Amputate quickly or amputate slowly. It wasn’t pretty, in fact if pretty had an opposite this would be it. Actually, if he’d have cut the back to begin with it would’ve been … well not good, but not an extra from Schindler’s List either.
So, the upside—I didn’t eat myself into oblivion. The downside—two bald patches in the back of my head. At least it won’t take any extra work to grow back my hair, (unlike pie induced weight gain) just a little time (exactly like pie induced weight gain). And the next time things get worse when I thought it wasn’t possible—I’ll have my husband hide my razor.