As hard as I try, I can’t go back to who I was. There’s nothing like a bad haircut to remind me of that.
I’ve had short hair since chemo ended, now four years ago. My body rebelled after being doused for months in that chemical wash. My nails and hair particularly made their dissatisfaction known, splitting and breaking and refusing to grow. I tried nail hardener and special shampoos, but the only thing that helped was time. My nails at least have started to grow again and have stopped splitting. My hair, though, remains fine and limp and every so often I panic, sure I have a bald spot. It’s no longer the lush locks I had.
I gave up bangs I’d worn since kindergarten for a side-swept pixie cut when my hair finally started to grow back after chemo. It looked cute and was a departure from the curly, salt and pepper mane that replaced the long, golden hair I’d lost.
Over time, I let it grow in a bit thicker, going for the Robin Wright look in House of Cards. It suited me, even though I never quite felt I recognized the woman looking back from the mirror.
For the first half of this year, I let my hair grow. I found a haircut that looked something like my old look, albeit a shorter version. And it had the bangs I’d forsaken. I was sure it would be the perfect cut for growing it long again.
So today, I went to my hair stylist – who rescued my wigs from over-washing-frizz-out as I cried and talked me in off the ledge of vulnerability during my baldness – and showed her the picture of the new look I wanted. She sized it up, told me I’d need to go a bit shorter in the back, but agreed it could be done.
Except it couldn’t. My bangs no longer sit right on my forehead and the shag layers are flat, making my hair look more like a helmet than tresses. I came home, threw water on it and parted it back on the side, giving it the pixie look I started with four years ago.
Back then, it made me happy. Today, it makes me feel stuck, like the movie Groundhog Day. Every time I think I’m ready to move forward, life takes me back to where I was to start all over again. Whether it’s a cancer recurrence or a starting a new drug treatment or a bad haircut. It’s like a merry-go-round I can’t get off of and there’s no brass ring to grab.
So here I am, back to being a woman I don’t recognize, but no longer having a meltdown over it. Sometimes you walk through a time warp and there’s just no going back. I’m living in such a time.