my journey with truth

Archive for the ‘crying’ Category

**NOTE: This post was started in December of 2010.  It used to begin like this: I got my hair cut in October.  Why am I writing about it now?  Because I’m finally able to embrace it without crying, basically.  Yes, yes.  I cried myself to sleep three nights in a row after the incident.  Three nights.  In a row.  Me, in bed, crying quiet tears about my hair.  My hair.  Not the people of the world suffering – my hair.  But see, hair is like a secret power.  Hair is a stronghold.  Hair is a treasure.  It’s like the plumage of the human body.  And like Samson, my October haircut sapped my strength.

Now, it continues, a year and a half after the haircut incident… but then, that’s partly what this post is all about:  I asked around about a new place to get my hair cut because the last place I went in Durham I had the most boring haircut ever, and my hair had finally grown out from my first above-the-shoulders cut since 7th grade two summers before in Corpus Christi.  That looked cute:

but the inbetween phase was killing me.  And I’d finally grown out some length that needed to be shaped.  Anyway, I asked around about where to go, and a place in Chapel Hill called Moshi Moshi was recommended by a couple people.

So, I went.  And this is nothing against that place, I’m not reviewing it, per se.  But I got the world’s worst haircut.  Seriously.  I guess it was super “in” at the time, especially with hipsters and people who like to trash their hair to make a statement, or a sort of homage to many decades past – part 80s rock, part 70s lady-mullet, part 90s Rachel Green/Jennifer Aniston.  But mostly it was awful.  It was like a sort of nice haircut down to just above my shoulders and then this long single layer of hair that stuck out about 4 inches beyond the rest of the hair.  But there were layers (uneven, chunky ones) cut above my ears, for crying out loud.  Which might be okay if my hair is cut above my shoulders overall, but there was still length.  Awkward length.  And she just. kept. cutting.  (I will say this, though: I had some sexy, sexy bangs going on).  I don’t think I’ve ever had a haircut take so long.  I kept thinking “I don’t have this much hair to cut, lady… WHAT THE DEUCE ARE YOU DOING?”

But of course, I didn’t say a word.  When she asked what I thought, I tried to keep from imploding on the spot, grabbed my coat, and wrote her an obscenely large check in part because I just wanted to get out of there and didn’t want to think about what the tip actually should’ve been.  I’ve always had some combination of believing the hair person knows what they’re doing better than I do, a fear of confrontation and disturbing the peace of just swallowing it down and moving on, and the fact that after it’s done… it’s done and you’re supposed to pay that person for their services (and I know that I’m saying I was dissatisfied but see the previous parts of the combination that lead to me not ever saying anything to the hair person).

It was awful, though.  I remember calling Charlotte and heading to school after bobby-pinning the crap out of it, and she and Amy and Morgan are all trying to be helpful and positive and then I take down the bobby pins and everyone’s face is revealing the tension with which they are trying to maintain a sort of positive face and then Charlotte finally says “Yeah, I’d invest in bobby pins for the near future.”

Fast forward 4 months and I’m finally ready to let someone else try to touch up and correct the haircut (I have a thing about not really liking my hair short if that’s not already clear, so I didn’t feel like I could go to anyone to get the world’s worst haircut fixed because it would just mean chopping off most of my hair.  It stems in part from the fact that my mom made me keep this one chili-bowl haircut for all of childhood [see pic]

which in retrospect looks kind of sweet, but I was always jealous of Rachel’s long, luscious locks).  I have never given so much instruction before a haircut in my life.  I told the whole story, gesturing to my still-ugly hair, which by the way had always laid straight before and had picked up this weird habit of just always looking unbrushed no matter what I did.  The following 40 minutes was the most vindicating moment of my life aside from 8th grade when I was accused of cheating on a math test and then got a 100 on the replacement test they made me take.  She kept holding up pieces of hair and saying “See these?  They should be the same length.”  And then she said after a bit “…did… she… THIN your hair?” and I said “well she just kept going with that razor blade” and she freaked out and said “WHY would she use a razor on your hair??  You have the completely wrong texture of hair for that.  You should never use a razor to layer fine hair.”

So.  A year and a half later, I’m finally able to talk about it.  I mean, mostly I’m embarrassed now that I cried so much over my hair.  But the thing is, I’ve learned this isn’t an uncommon thing.  A woman in a class I go to on Sundays said when she heard the passage in Matthew about reconciling yourself to your brother or sister before laying your offering at the altar, she thought of how it took her TWO YEARS to go back to her hairdresser and talk to her about how she’d cut her hair too short.  And it’s not just women.  My friends Brian and Maggie visited me last Sunday and he told a story about trimming his beard really close (it was still there, just really short) and when Maggie got home, he kept asking “Do I look like a woman?” and staring off into nothingness about it.

What is it about our hair?

I think for myself, I can say that because I have long-held self-esteem issues about my appearance, there has always been my hair.  It’s blonde, naturally, which is supposedly a unicorn of sorts (though it’s getting dirtier and I kind of want to dye it all the way dark brown but that’s a whole other post about how I don’t know if I could basically give up being a blonde since hair never really goes quite back to what it was before once you mess with it chemically).  It lays straight without much effort (or used to).  It can be manipulated into all sorts of styles.  Yeah, my hair has been a physical refuge for me.  A stronghold.  It was my pretty part when all I could think about the rest of my body was “ugh.”

So, seriously strange, just weeks before my haircut incident, Willow Smith released “Whip My Hair,” weeks shy, herself, from being 10 years old.  Now, while she didn’t write the song, I have to give credit to the little sassy sasserson for her sense of self and willingness to do what she wants without really caring about convention.  The song suits her.  And she has some mad dance skillz in the video besides the actual hair whipping part.

I have to say I appreciate the gist of things lyrically, despite the hook being, as some describe, “grating” and “a nightmare of a brain drill.”  She knows that there’s power in the hair, too.  But she knows something more:

Don’t let haters keep me off my grind
Keep my head up and I know I’ll be fine
Keep fighting until I get there
Am down and I feel like giving up

I whip my hair back and forth…

All my ladies, if you feel me
Do it, do it, whip your hair
Don’t matter if it’s long, short
Do it, do it, whip your hair

A freaking 9-year-old knew better how to be herself and claim herself while I was crying in my bed 3 nights in a row.  She’s saying I can whip my hair back and forth no matter what it looks like, and I think that basically the whipping is a metaphor.  A year and a half later, I still can’t really tell you what that means fully.  But this is the truth I’ve come to understand via grieving my hair and listening to the wisdom of Willow Smith: I’m awesome no matter what my hair looks like.  I’m awesome even though I’m overweight.  I’m awesome even though I’m a pastor and that apparently makes a lot of people uncomfortable (which in turn, and I don’t think people realize this, makes me uncomfortable like I’m the one actually being judged for being assumed to be a judgy person myself).  I’m awesome even though I am not very good at sports.  I’m awesome even though I live alone with my cat.  I’m awesome.  I’m awesome no matter what my hair looks like.

Sidenote: I have these AMAZING new, big, argon oil hot rollers that make my hair look FANTASTIC.  But I’d be awesome without them too.

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You know how I know I love God?  Because there are times when I’m talking about God that my heart starts racing and I’m tingly all over and I start to smile and cry a little at the same time the way I imagine I’ll smile and cry a little on my wedding day (if that day ever comes).  I’m sure you’re thinking “Barf” to that in some ways.  And that’s ok.  But for a girl who has done a lot of pining for a companion, dare I say a boyfriend (I always feel like that must offend God for some reason… “You have me, God of all that is seen and unseen and you’re whining about a boyfriend???), it’s kind of a big deal for me to sit here and remember that I really do love God in a way that fills my being up, not just my brain.

If nothing else comes of writing this commissioning paper, and despite all the complaining I’ve done about my commissioning work and the questions and guidelines etc., I will be grateful for the moments of writing when I was able to pour out on the page how much I love God.

Dear Beatrice,
How are you?  I [sic] just gonna jumble everything together.  I miss Comfort so much.  I miss Kota and Jesse and Don and Susan and Andrew and Casey and Lois and David and Brittney and the football field and the church and the 4th of July parade.  I miss fireflies and jumping on the trampoline.  I miss life being perfect.  I miss the time of my life when boys and girls were friends.  I want a boyfriend.  I want someone to like me.  It’s not fair.  I miss Pawpee and Mimi.  David and Lance were in a car wreck today.  We only have 2 more days of school left.  Tomorrow I’m going to Celebration Station.  I just want to give Jesse and Kota a big hug.  I’m scared to grow up.  I feel like 6th grade has flown by all too quickly.  I made 1st chair for 7th grade honor band.  I also tried out for advanced choir.  Miss Altrogge said I made a perfect score.  I was confirmed on Sunday.  I want a boyfriend so badly!  Next year I’m going to knock ’em dead!  I also like ____ ______.  He seems really nice but once again I choose to like someone that I have no chance for.  He’s in 9th grade.  Today in P.E. I jammed my middle finger on my right hand.  It’s bruised but I think I’ll be OK.  I gotta go take a shower.  Maybe I’ll write again later tonight or tomorrow.

:`) [my attempt at a smiley face with tears?]
Lizzie

Well, guess what.  I still want a boyfriend.  And I can’t believe I used the phrase “I’m going to knock ’em dead!”  Like, I actually wrote out an apostrophe-em.

Most telling to me in this entry is the deep truth that growing up is chaotic.  I don’t think I’m alone in that.  And I don’t have any illusions that my experience of growing up represents either an extreme or a “normal” (I hate that word) version of it.  It was my own.  That’s all I can know about it.  And yet, as I have loved children all my life (including while being one) and have worked with children and youth through college, seminary, and the real world, I think that it has a universal element.  The chaos of growing up, that is.  And in the midst of that chaos, we humans will grab at anything that resonates with order, simplicity, and comfort.  It just so happens my version of order, simplicity, and comfort includes capital “C” Comfort, Texas.

I assume I felt really crummy that day.  I’m bad at consistent journaling (uh, hello blog) and always have been, so usually if there’s an entry it either means I’m in a crisis mode of some sort and am trying to sort through things by writing it out… or it’s about a boy.  Whatever brought me to the low point of that day, it’s interesting that in the very middle of it (seriously, sentence 16 of 30) I say “I’m scared to grow up.”  Oh, sweet little 6th grade Lizzie “Holden Caulfield” Wright.  You have no idea what growing up is in one way, and yet I know you are hurting so right then over the growing up you’d already done by then.  Part of me wants to say “Get back to me when you truly can’t keep straight what day it is” or “Get back to me when you’ve said ‘I love you’ to someone and they say back ‘OK'” or “Get back to me when you’ve had a friend betray you for a job promotion” or “Get back to me when you have to swallow everyone telling you how you’re too young to really understand and yet you’re the one with the masters degree between the two of you”.

But I also remember what it felt like to ache for Comfort, TX.  It was life before any of that stuff (or any of the stuff that feels like it can never be named, never have that truth sounded out for fear of what might come of it) happened.  For one thing, it was probably life before you knew what days of the week even were.  But then isn’t it all the more strange in a sense that Comfort ends up getting translated by my psyche into order, simplicity and comfort?  So much so that the “jumbling” I do in this journal entry moves from missing a former hometown to self-worth defined through boyfriend (not that I declare that in the entry, but I kind of have an ‘in’ on what was going on there…) and then to the grief of lost grandparents to the danger of potentially losing friends (the car crash).  The chaos of growing up gets lumped in with deep grief, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Well, I guess to be fair, little just-finished-sixth-grade Lizzie could turn right back around and tell me to snap out of it, too.  She could say “Friend, you may have dealt with some deep grief and deeper grief, some anxiety and some depression, some low self-esteem and some terrible terrible life decisions made out of it, but you have also created some order (I said some), sought out simplicity, and given comfort.”  And she might remind me it’s ok to cry.  Some things change over time, sometimes we learn from ourselves, sometimes these “sometimes” take a long time.  And some things never change – like I need to go take a shower.

So my friend Megan has had several personal victories lately, a couple while she was home over Thanksgiving break, and I really like that things have been going her way.  Because she’s awesome.  Boom.

But I really like when things go my way, and while I was home over the weekend, I had a HUGE personal victory of sorts, though I’m not sure I’m really categorizing this correctly.  For one thing, I should probably just go ahead and count this as a confession, because it’s actually pretty terrible that I’m so happy about the following story (but I am).

Over the weekend, while I was obsessively checking facebook Friday night, I got a courtesy message from facebook notifying me that this girl from my 5th grade class sent me a friend invite.  Here’s the thing, I wish the button didn’t say “not now.”  I wouldn’t even be satisfied with “reject” like back in the stone age facebook days.  Maybe if it said “Aw Heywul Noe” with a sassy pointed finger it might get close to how I feel, but perhaps the more polite but still truthful button would be “Are you kidding me?”  I just thought, this is going to feel SO GOOD when she feels my interwebs RE-JEC-TION!

But to be honest, I’m struggling.  I kind of secretly really want to write her a message in response.  It would go a little something like this:

Dear ________,
I was really surprised to see your facebook friend invite when I signed into my account tonight.  We haven’t really spoken or even really seen each other at all since 5th grade, having gone to different middle and high schools and all.  And to be honest, I was really grateful that we parted ways after only one year of schooling together.  Maybe you don’t remember, or maybe you’re looking for more facebook friends, or maybe you think I’m really funny and wish you had full access to my statuses (stati?  I’m not sure…) and pictures.  See, the problem I have, and the reason I don’t really understand if this is supposed to be a joke or not or if I should feel some sort of strange pressure to accept a facebook friendship, is that we weren’t friends.  This isn’t a long-lost high school thing 30 years after graduation.  This isn’t because we didn’t know each other.  We knew each other.  And you were mean to me.  Pointedly.  Every day.  I was the new kid having just moved from Austin, and vulnerable in every way; you were long-established in a class that had kept the same students together since kindergarten and in the popular clique, the queen bee so-to-speak.  You told me how ugly my clothes were and where I should shop, only that I wouldn’t be able to shop there because they didn’t carry my size.  When I tried to run for student council and concluded by saying not to vote based on popularity but because y’all should know I’d do a good job, you told me I basically just admitted to how unpopular I was.  We were 10.  We were 10 and you made me feel bad every day.  I got in trouble with my mom for shaving my legs for the first time without asking, and the only reason I did it was because I knew that you weren’t allowed to at all yet and I just wanted something that I could almost consider demeaning of you to hold onto inside.

That’s how twisted you made my 5th grade experience.

What world do you live in that you think I’m excited to see your face or care to have anything about your life pop up in a newsfeed?

Sorry, that was mean.  I can forgive you.  I shave my legs for a different reason now. My favorite jeans are from Walmart, and I still wear the same size I did in 5th grade only I’ve grown about 6 inches since then (though I still wish I could wear a 5, a 7, or a 9).  I won the election for student council vice-president in high school and was recognized the year after I graduated by a random sophomore girl at a party, and I won even though I wasn’t really popular in high school either.  I can forgive you.  But I’m sitting here crying as I write this because when I think of you, I think of how at least a whole year of my life was wasted on horrible days because of the way you made me feel.  I was 10 years old and felt so bad about my life, hated where I lived, felt anxious about school most days, and continued a vicious cycle of eating to console myself for feeling so fat.  I can forgive you, but we are not friends.  And I’m sorry if that’s mean.

For some reason, it’s been 4 days and I still haven’t pressed the “not now” button.  But I really can forgive her, and that’s a different kind of personal victory.

Today I cried and cried during church and after.  I cried during prayers, I cried during the Affirmation of Faith, I cried singing, I cried receiving communion, I cried in my car.

I was visiting Reconciliation UMC for a school project.

It was also my first time worshipping on a Sunday since coming back to school.  Yeah, I know.  I go to seminary.  There must be something wrong with me.  There have been a couple Sundays I tried and just… couldn’t.

I clapped (enthusiastically!) more than I probably ever have in a worship service.

Is it possible to feel embraced and lonely at the same time?



  • None
  • myjourneywithtruth: i had it in my office at my internship in Corpus Christi two summers ago. ellen davis is brilliant and glows with an aura of holy.
  • amy h: i love this quote. i think i may need it hanging on my wall where i'll see it daily. perhaps in front of the toilet? by the door? bedside table? i'll
  • chaz: That post made me really sad too. Mostly because I want to take young Lizzie by the shoulders and shake her (gently?) into sublime realization that sh

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