Now here's an odd thing — at least, I think it is.
When I was a young woman, I had long, straight(ish) hair. Allowed to dry naturally, it had a very slight wave in it. That's how it was.
My life went along being itself right up to 1998, at which point a season of radical change began.
From the winter of 1998 I entered an increasingly turbulent time, not within myself but in my circumstances. It gathered force, until by the winter of 2001 I had lost my job, my marriage and my family home, while still bearing responsibility for a family on the verge of fledging.
In 2003 I remarried — to Bernard, who developed an auto-immune disease that destroyed the mucus membranes of his gullet and mouth and trachea. I (and my daughter Hebe) looked after him at home until he died at the end of August in 2004. Bernard was a tempestuous man, who before me had been married to the love of his life, Anne. When I moved in to his cottage, it was still furnished for the two of them; he was willing to make available for me one cupboard and two drawers. This was a useful stage in my journey into minimalism, but not especially easy. His illness was terrifying. At the same time I had returned to working as a minister, and bore increasing pastoral responsibility over a widespread rural area — long hours, a lot of driving; It was very tiring.
During these years I was often at my wits' end, exhausted, drained, bewildered, just keeping on keeping on.
About a year and a half after Bernard died, in the winter of 2005, I entered the life partnership I am still in, with Tony. We married in 2006. Though this brought me joy, life remained . . . terrifying. I met immense hostility from my new step family, my family of origin, (never easy) was in melt-down, and my new marriage meant a move hundreds of miles from the last shreds of continuity and stability my life still held. I was happy in my marriage, but otherwise immensely lonely and continually attacked and rejected by new and old family members. I was too wrecked to work.
Around 2002 I wrote a book called The Clear Light of Day, and in 2007 somebody interviewed me in connection with that novel. They wanted a bio photo for the article. Here's the one I provided —
It's how I looked when I left my hair to dry naturally.
In 2008, I decided enough was enough and it was time to rebuild and heal my life.
We moved back to be near my family (my children). I left the Methodist ministry. I withdrew from social contact with almost everyone. And since then, over the last decade, I have travelled deeper into minimalism, making my schedule, connections, income and possessions smaller . . . smaller . . . smaller . . . modelling my life on the hazelnut Jesus holds in the palm of his hand in Julian of Norwich's vision. I've also chosen to minimise the time I spend with people who have made it clear they don't like me, and with people whose energy is so turbulent they overwhelm me.
At some point along the way I saw a Body Talk therapist. It proved to be a very short session because, she said, my body didn't want to tell her anything except that it had horror in its bones. I'd say that was about right.
I've spent the last few years cleansing, healing, restoring, and making myself well again.
Here's a photo of me today —
My hair has stopped curling. It's gone back to the straight-with-a-slight-wave it used to have when I was a young woman.
Now, I have known since childhood the expression "It would make your hair curl!" to describe something horrific or terrifying. I always assumed it was just a saying that didn't really mean anything, but apparently not. It's actually something that can happen. Straight hair that changes to curly is mostly caused by hormonal change or by drug intervention (chemotherapy). Evidently stress can do it as well.
Who knew? I found that interesting, and a good way to evaluate the effectiveness of the healing journey I've undertaken.