Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hair Hate

I had no choice but to get my hair cut over the weekend. I'd let it go too long - six months, to be exact - and the split ends were heinous.

My stylist did the same great job she always does, but given my own neglect, she had to cut a lot to get all the split ends, so that now I have hair that's right above my shoulders.

I'm so appalled by how short my hair is that I can barely stand it. I love me with long hair! I feel it's part of my beauty (whatever, take that lightly. I'm no great beauty, but whatever I am, my hair helps achieve it!). I feel so feminine with long hair. I am me with long hair.

And yet, I'm caught by my own words as I review recent history:

(yeah, don't ask)




I swear I don't even remember my hair being this short this consistently. I had hair like that first picture for about three years, 96-99, and in mid-2001 I did a chin-length bob (given that this was before I started using digital cameras, barely any of these are scanned), which I repeated in mid-2006, and I remember the haircuts that led to these lengths, but in my mind I've had long hair for ages. I don't remember maintaining these cuts. Looking at these pics, though, it seems like the opposite it true: I've had above-the-shoulder hair more than I've had halfway-down-my-back hair.

WTF. I'm stunned.

Don't be fooled by how non-offensive those haircuts look. In two of those pics (first and last) my hair's been professionally styled, and in the others, I don't look that great. I also hate my hair short because the maintenance is a pure bitch. My hair is thick and wavy (if not outright curly, it depends on its mood) and therefore benefits from the weight of long hair. I get frizzies no matter what, but with shorter hair, I look like a clown. And sure, I could blow-dry or straight-iron it, but I so don't have the patience for that (or interest, as I prefer wavy hair over straight, and let's not speak of the damage that would cause).

The current cut is longer than any of these, and seeing this evidence, I have no argument left. This cut isn't so bad, I guess. I'll keep a stiff upper lip until it gets past my shoulders.

And I swear I'll be better about getting regular trims. Maybe.


Posted by Tere @ 8/16/2011   | | | links to this post

Friday, August 05, 2011

Part 1: You Say That Everything Is Different

There are supposed to be some ground rules. We have never outright laid these rules out, but they are understood. I am not to write about him here. That's it, that's the rule. He has more than clearly expressed his feelings about this blog, about being a topic in this blog, many times over the last few years (hint, he's not a fan).

I understand his feelings and respect that rule. Hell, I got to a point where I myself didn't want to write about him/the marriage anymore. It gave me all kinds of terrible feelings. It hindered my own healing and ability to move forward. And over the course of the last couple of years, I've thought long and hard about that line (a line I know I've blurred) between my need to process things here, things that include him in some way, and his right to privacy and not looking like a dick in a public forum over which he has no control.

But I don't know that I can follow this rule anymore. If I am to write about my life and be honest about it, I have to include him, too. Because while his role is different, my ex-husband is still a part of my life. And it's silly and untrue to pretend otherwise.

We hit a turning point last year. His own personal journey took him to a place where he could view me and the last few years of his life with more clarity and perspective. And in that clarity he saw a lot of, in his words, "really bad choices" that he'd made, and... (yadda, yadda, yadda) he wanted to turn a new leaf, in his life and with me and how we would move forward as co-parents.

I was open to whatever he had to say to me. I have for a long time wanted to reach someplace good with my son's father. But it's hard to reach *good* when *bad* was so pervasive for so long. We essentially are, in the end, the same two people who couldn't make a marriage work, who are forever misunderstanding each other (though less so now that we're not in each other's faces all the time). So how do we get to good? And more importantly, how do we stay there?

This past year has been the beginning of a journey from a place of anger, hurt, tension and negativity to a place of... something better. There have been really difficult and painful conversations and others that have been closer to healing. There have been a lot of revelations and a very marked change in how we regard and communicate with each other. It's been heartbreaking and eye-opening and ultimately necessary in the great scheme of the years that lie ahead.

It's hard to put in words what it's like to receive answers and reasons long after I had accepted those would never come. I understand why he did it, his own personal needs and thoughts and feelings that motivated him to make some radical changes, including opening up to me. I'm grateful that he did something to cut the b.s. between us, to put things on the right track. Honestly, a move like that, for a whole lot of reasons, had to come from him, and I understand that he had to go through his own process to be able to do it. Whatever the reasons and impetus, the point is, he did it.

I've had much to think about and absorb this last year. Somewhere along the way I realized that the redefinition of my relationship with my ex-husband was a thing unto its own that called for some space to grow, or become. It's required as much attention and care as anything. It's been new territory, and we've both treaded carefully, a sign that it might mean as much to him as it does to me that this be done right, respectfully. We've had to do this as individuals and as co-parents, and I suppose we'll continue to do so for a long while to come.

The notion that I continue to have a relationship, a pretty significant one, with my ex-husband is something that's affected me in ways I did not anticipate. I mean, I have to raise a child with this person but must do so with the weight of more than a dozen years between us. And I don't mean to imply that this equals tension or anything like that; it's quite the opposite, which is the part that mystifies me. To start life over - alone, as co-parents, with a new partner - requires (yes, requires) a sort-of stripping of emotions and history, for the sake of peace, of moving forward. And so we've done that somehow and those years are like a hole between us, even as we each make an effort to move forward in a positive, cooperative way.

All this is predicated on the kind of parents we've chosen to be. We are not two parents who hand our son off without words, nor do we make decisions independently, nor do we deal with each other only when something is too big not to.

We've chosen a way of parenting that we believe will make life more stable for our son. We want him to feel that although he must go back and forth between two homes, the differences in each are negligible. We want him to flow easily between the two. But to make this real for him, it requires us to speak every day, to coordinate a great deal, to be a united front even as we maintain two different homes and two different lives. It's not easy. Not just from a logistical point of view (which has been somewhat easy, but I can see how it can all get pretty hairy at any moment), but also from an emotional one. I'm learning to see how we're all affected by this, and that despite everything, we are a family still. In a very real way. It's just that this family includes two dads, one mom, one child and two homes.

This is a work-in-progress. But I know, and here I can speak for him as well as for myself, that we each want this. We each want Max to have parents who can work well together and continue to make life stable and peaceful; we each want to get past the past and make something positive of this, whatever "this" ultimately is.

As I tend to do whenever big changes loom ahead for me, I'm looking back. And in looking back over the last year, I see all this, the beginning of this part of the story and my learning to understand it all and find my place in it. Perhaps this is an admission that a new chapter truly has begun, and that I'm hoping it all turns out o.k.

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Posted by Tere @ 8/05/2011   | | | links to this post