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Hair Follies: A Lesson in Surrendering Control
Haircutting has become a cathartic event for me. Not cutting other people’s hair, but my own.
I don’t recall how it all started – my lock-chopping obsession. Not unlike nail-biting or compulsive coffee consumption, I suppose. Perhaps it was the result of one too many much-too-stressful days, shaky nerves, a borderline-insane craving for adventure or an emotional need that even masses of chocolate couldn’t satiate.
When at the mercy of a pathological need for change and control, I feel mayhem coming on, and my haircutting persona takes over. Trying to avoid targeting my control tendencies at family or friends, I used to frequently turn to obsessively cleaning the house. Hey, when the house is in order, then life will follow suit, right? I guess for a control-freak gone bad, an intense clean just isn’t enough anymore. I need a bigger fix.
So it begins. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I apply a third coat of Windex. Noticing my shaggy ‘do, I absently drop my swath of cleaning cloth and carve a path to the hall closet. Where are those haircutting scissors I used to have? A surge of excitement rises at the sudden realization that there’s a new project that can come under my influence, an area of my life that is entirely my own to control. In the midst of my desire to find this place, I find myself with the compulsion to cut my hair.
Balancing three plastic organizers above my head while digging through boxes in my closet turns out to be quite fruitful. My hands clasp the prized possession – the haircutting shears. What follows is just one more “incident” in the ever expanding history of this borderline addictive relationship – just me, the shears and a quiet bathroom mirror that seems to smile upon me as I clip and snip, searching for the new style that will emerge and make my day.
Ever since that first high with the scissors and my first self-inflicted haircut, I’ve continued to find myself with the compulsion to cut my hair. Simple as that. I can’t think straight when it hits. All I know is I need a beauty fix and I need it now! No time for appointment-making or searching through endless celebrity pictures to find the ideal ‘do.
Rationalizing does have its place in my scissor drive. I tell myself there are worse alterations I could make. After all, I’m not dyeing my hair green or tattooing my face. It isn’t permanent. These mental ointments soothe my conscience… for a time, at least.
I confess there have been nights I have crept to the bathroom under cover of darkness in desperate need to manage something in my life, and my hair has become the target – the victim of my need for control. There’s just nothing like the crisp snip of scissors and my new self emerging, transformed, to sedate the restless places in my soul!
Things do become complicated when I no longer have hair to cut and I must announce to my husband and friends that I may, after all, have a problem. I make promises that this will truly be the month I really will let my hair grow out. Really! I vow victory and abstinence from the shears. Inevitably a few predictable days of ordinary life pass, and then I feel the rising need… the ache for adventure, risk and deviation from the norm. Must… cut… the… hair! En route to my designated “cutting bathroom,” I notice my husband shift uncomfortably in his chair as his neck cranes to see what I’m up to. As I carry out my plans for a new style, I feel delighted at my self-made adventure.
There have been low points when I’ve stepped out from my deed to showcase the change to a waiting husband and friends only to hear strained gasps and quickly muttered, “Yeah, um... looks fine.” Just as often, I have leaned on my man’s shoulder and grieved my newly mangled style while whimpering, “Why?” and bemoaning the injustice that hats are prohibited at work.
Of course, after a cleansing cry and a few days, the misery fades and I am once again looking forward to my next haircut escapade. Only this time, I’m going to grow it longer and try for a better style. I am always convinced that the next time will meet with success.
I mean, I don’t have a problem. Truly, I could stop whenever I wanted... I just don’t have that desire. When I discuss these musings with my friend, she looks doubtful.
In thinking it over, I believe this habit of mine really might be getting out of hand. A few innocent trims of the hair aren’t innately bad, but my desire to control something, anything, is.
After further consideration, I’m convicted that I have channeled my controlling, fearful ways to myself, even sometimes to my own style detriment, rather than going to God with my problems. Haircuts or no haircuts, this obsession is beginning to lead me back to a sovereign God who smiles at my silliness and asks me to trust Him more deeply.
So instead of panicking when work is stressful or when relationships are strained, instead of running for the scissors and funneling all my angst into cutting crooked bangs, my heavenly Father has reminded me that I can run to Him. His arms are wide open, and He’s big enough to hold all of my circumstances and stresses, without my help.
Handing over worries and the need to feel in control is really quite freeing, not always easy, but worth it – and holds no regrets – unlike my latest haircutting scheme. Not to mention the glorious loss of many “bad hair days”!
As I surrender my woes to Christ, He is teaching me to hand off my unhealthy ways of dealing with life’s woes and I am learning to trust Him. I’m even learning to pray and praise instead of running for the scissors. In fact, I have started to laugh at my haircutting temptations and am even planning on growing my hair out – at least for a few days.
Casey Manes writes for the marketing department of a Chicago area university. When she’s not cutting her own hair, she enjoys freelance writing, reading classics and being outdoors
All articles used with permission from Beautiful One Magazine, LLC, 2007.
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