Exorcising Demons

Some jokes are classics. Some jokes don’t age well. Some jokes can bring a laugh years after the fact. Some jokes weren’t that funny to begin with. And some jokes, well, some jokes were never jokes at all… they were demons.

For me, it was an oft repeated jest… “You’ll know my marriage is over when I have long hair and a cat!” Now, while the cat is a red herring, the hair… well, the hair’s no herring.

Anyone who has been through a divorce can recognize the cycle. First, you are blanketed in shame, numb to the touch and thought, making your way through a season that feels as thick as mud. Then you move into a time where you indiscriminately believe every word of condemnation and judgement that has been laid at your feet. And then, ever so slowly, you start to unpack what actually happened – sifting through what is yours and what is theirs, recognizing and owning what you brought into the relationship while letting go of ownership of the things they brought, and finally starting to assess what you have become (and are left with) at the end of things… and that’s when you find the demons.

31 years ago I had just started dating my ex, I was in a band that traveled full time and I had a glorious head full of hair. As a kid who had gone to a private school with a dress and hair code, I was pretty excited to follow in my brothers footsteps and grow it out when I graduated. Throughout college my hair and my guitar became two of the major keystones of my person-hood.

The year was 1989 and the style was a mullet (which required regular tending). The band had a day off in San Antonio, TX and the keyboard player and I hit the local mall and a Hair Salon – he needed to get his perm re-permed and I needed some mullet sculpting. Sadly, in a flash of scissor clipping, what was supposed to be sculpting became desecration. The damage was done and the keyboard player still had a good chunk of time left to finish his perm so I wandered the mall. I am not exaggerating when I say that several people pointed at me (due sadly to the disastrous hair styling and not our impending rock stardom). Finally, I went to the only other hair place there – a barber shop. The woman working looked up when I walked in and I asked her, “Can you fix this?” She sadly shook her head and said, “Oh honey… all we can do is cut it off and you can start over.”

So she did. And I thought I would, but when I got home my ex said “I am so glad you cut your hair!” and it was clear that I would not be growing it long again. In that early and innocent moment I gave away those keys to my personality because I wanted approval and then I never became able to take them back again.

Sometimes long running jokes are really, in truth, demons of our past that need to be exorcised. Maybe you think hair is a silly thing, but apparently it so important to the wounded soul inside of me that I have brought it up over and over for 31 years.

So, like that 18 year old kid freshly graduated from high school, it is time to grow my hair. It is time to exorcise that demon. It is time to own the fact that I willingly gave away something so fundamental to my self and allowed another person to direct and control that in me. It is time to take back the keys.

And this time, If I get fed up and cut it short and spiky again, this time it will be MY decision.

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