I Cut My Own Bangs!
Yes. It's true. I actually did cut my own bangs...but there is a story attached as to why. Or at least some helpful context to be offered.
I needed a change. I was beginning to feel caught in a horrible maze at a very scary carnival. Every turn I took seemed to bring me to another uncomfortable and somewhat scary place. For the last two years, and most intense, this past few months, we have been helping our mom get to memory care. By helping I am not sure it sounds right. It isn't like my sister or I did anything extra or made things happen to create the necessity for a more secure living arrangement; it simply came about due to our mom's decline in her memory and ability to care for herself. I am happy to say she is safe and living in a very nice memory care center. But that isn't the real point here. I mean it is, of course, the best outcome for all of this. And of course I am relieved. But the other real and scary point is I became very out of sorts.
If you have never dealt with dementia, you may not understand the descriptors I am going to use...however, I do think you will understand the immense affect it can have on the person afflicted and the people around them.
It is like swimming in a deep water hole that is mostly dark, but occasionally you see light. You swim towards the light hoping it gets you out of the hole, but just when you get almost to the top, the light goes away. You feel like you are drowning but not quite. You can still swim towards the lighted area and you feel excited and happy. Once you get your head above water, if you're lucky, the darkness comes and the disorientation begins all over again. It's exhausting. Your mind plays tricks on you and you begin to lose the ability to trust your decision making. You worry you are lost and what you are trying to find may not exist anymore. This is how I have been feeling as the loved one to the dementia-afflicted person, my mom. I would see my mom make progress one day (the light) and the next day she would be worse (the darkness). There is never any pattern to watch for. And there is nothing that triggers her back to 'normal'....or what I hope to be the normal. I routinely questioned whether she 'really' needs memory care. After all, she is still curling her own hair...or at least most days she does. Oh and see, she remembers to shower...or at least most days she does. I could go on and on...but in the end, it can be tricks you play on yourself for fear of making a decision that isn't right or would be even sadder. I wanted so desperately to make the right decision. It is the right decision. And we made it.
So why did I cut my own bangs? I go back to the change I needed. In being with my mom so often I realize the importance of patterns and routine. It is so important for those afflicted with dementia. I began to feel stuck in a pattern that was stifling. So one day I was on a Zoom call and all I could stare at was my forehead. I saw what appeared to be a very large forehead on the screen belonging to me. I decided I needed bangs. I needed to shake things up and live a little more spontaneously. So after the Zoom call I cut my bangs. I also cut the sides of my hair to try and blend this newly cut hair with the old longer hair. Most of us are familiar with the haircut term: Mullet. Which is the perfect word to describe what I had created. I couldn't reach the back of my hair to cut...so you get the picture.
I am happy to report I was able to get in for what I describe as an emergency haircut, and all is well. I have much shorter hair now, but at least it matches all around. And it's not too hard to get ready should I get a call and need to run up to where my mom is staying. Or really any other reason.
But here is what I learned: I hadn't laughed hard and out loud in awhile given our plight helping our mom. I also hadn't taken a risk or stepped out of the box for awhile given our plight helping our mom. And this bang trim...gave me all that and more. I still chuckle when I think about that afternoon of bang cutting. I felt a little like I was in first grade again playing with scissors!
I also learned a good reminder. I need to keep living along side my mom no matter what her stage of dementia is. I can still laugh. Being somber takes a toll; one I don't want. I can still take risks and live outside the lines, even if my mom needs to stay inside the lines. I can still take care of her and not lose myself.
I see more of my light now. I hope I can shine some of it towards my mom to help her find her way.
Or at least decrease some of the darkness I see in her eyes.