This post is the fifth in a series, The Other Side of Being Sick, chronicling my path to learning to be well once again. You can read all the posts in this series by clicking here.
I got my hair cut this weekend. Or my ‘hairs’ cut, as my friend Barry used to say. He also used to call it the ‘grockery’ store instead of the grocery store. I still think of that and smile when I’m getting my alone time in the frozen food aisle. It was new. And it was silly, fun.
A hair cut might not be such a big deal to you, but when you’ve had chemo take a lot of it from you, your hair becomes sort of a big deal. When I watched it fall away, spied the bald spots appearing, that kind of newness wasn’t much fun. I didn’t want to have short hair, but the baldness compelled it. I didn’t want to stop coloring my hair, but the hypersensitive skin demanded it.
So, I went along to get along, because sometimes life is like that.
This haircut was another story. No one or nothing made the decision for me. I went short and gray because I chose to. The newness was exciting. In that choice there was satisfaction.
I cried back then, a lot. I sobbed when my hair left me. It was scary in a dark way, unforgiving blackness. I didn’t want to look old because I already felt so frail and vulnerable. It felt safer living under a facade.
A few years later, in a stronger body with a mind that hardly remembers chemo, going gray and going short feels like a victory. This is new and I am powerful. Take your preconceived notions of little gray haired old ladies and shove them swiftly up your ass.
I’ve tried new things this year. I’ve made a concerted effort to make friends and was rewarded handsomely. I made the leap to veganism* and I’m all the better for it. I got a job, like a real one, with a paycheck and everything. That also might not seem like a big deal, but for a woman that gave up all her money making years to raise children, it sure was scary. And my health and my tumor have been stable. That’s the kind of new that appeals to me.
The other kind of new, the scary side, the unknown, the rug swept out from under me, I’ve experienced that too. Challenges in my personal life, my finances. Trying again and again to get my work published elsewhere and each time getting a pass. Like handing your heart to that one true love and watching them break it to pieces.
Lately, I’ve failed at new far more than I’ve succeeded. I tried to take up knitting. My daughter makes it look so easy. But it’s not. Not for me, anyway. I tried to crochet. Tried and failed. Failing is frustrating, but in the realm of arts and crafts I seem to be rather good at it. I’ve settled on cross stitch. I suck, but maybe I’ll suck less with time.
I don’t like new, even when it sometimes turns out well. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m reminded of the scary unknowns that my desmoid tumor brought me. Of feeling like it’s happening to me, forcing me, breaking me. Making me stick my head under the covers to cry.
But, new will happen regardless. That’s just the nature of things. Life is cruel in certain parts and places. It leaves its scars behind. So, you just try to hang on for the next new, the silly new, the fun new, the new that is exciting. The one where you get to choose the hows and the whys.
I got my hair cut this weekend. My hairs cut, as Barry would say. And it was the fun kind of new. It made me smile. Around the corner, though, is the scary kind of new. The rug swept out from under me. The unknowns always get their time. For now, I’ll focus on this new haircut. It’s the same one as the old one, but at least this time I got to decide.