When Life Gets Messy, Don't Cut and Run! By Melissa Groman LCSW on 5/14/13 - 4:20 PM

It was not one of my better moments. It was a very busy time of year, getting ready for Passover, juggling my schedule with patients and the kids' spring break. It was one of those times where I stood at the intersection of my mothering and my profession and my head was spinning.

On the top of the TTD list (things to do) was getting my five year old daughter a haircut. Routine errand as it seems, it did require a bit of scheduling and some tenderness, as she is quite fond of her long, wild and unruly hair. As am I. We did not want to mess with the mess on her head in haste. But my mother's eye knew it had to be tamed somewhat.

I was short on time. I was seeing clients until the last minute, trying to accommodate my own interrupted schedule and not have to cut out too many sessions due to the holiday. So, If you'll forgive the line, "T'was the night before Passover...." and even though most things were set and ready....the unruly hair atop my daughter's head still waited.

So I decided to cut it myself.

I was egged on a bit by another child. And advised (poorly, as it turns out), to cut the hair dry. Cutting in haste, dry or not, is not, I have learned, a good idea.  But I was not thinking clearly. You can guess what happened. I cut a little, and then a little more and soon we were heading toward a bad combo of Larry, Curly and Moe.

So among other good lessons about knowing when to say when, knowing our limits, not doing things that we are not "cut out" to do and getting help when we need it, I was once again reminded about the importance of slowing down. And I was thinking how this is a lesson I can never learn enough. In both my mothering and my practice.

Sometimes in our work, we can get rushed into all kinds of urgencies to take care of things quickly. Things hurt. We are healers. And we are constantly in the fluid space of intense feelings, unconscious undercurrents and old patterns being recycled.  And sometimes it feels like such an unruly mess, if not on top of the head, then certainly in it. And in the heart as well. I can never learn this message enough either: we have to live with unruly messes sometimes. We have to help our clients live with unruly messes. We have to wait and study the mess and not be so quick to the cut.

As it turns out, I knew when to say when, and thanks to the help of a good neighbor who knows how to cut hair properly, my daughter's new "do" is pretty cute. And even though she likes it, she wants it long again. We keep telling her it will take some time, but it will grow. Just like all of us.

File under: A Day in the Life of a Therapist