My hair is growing at an exceedingly rapid rate. Truth be told, I haven't had a haircut since I went back to the states last Christmas and even though I got five inches off then, nobody could really tell, and apparently my hair never got the memo. At this point, it's about a handprint away from my butt and the color I put in it almost two years ago has mostly blended in or disappeared. So now, every time I look in the mirror I kind of get a bit freaked out because I look like 6th grade Jessica.
In my mind I have very a vivid memory of my 6th grade class picture. I had long, straight, dark black hair back then (kind of like Morticia from the old television show the Adams family), it was just a tad bit longer than it is now, and I wore a black dress for that class picture (which completed the vampire look, but I'm not sure that was intentional). Anyway, seeing myself in the mirror now and flashing back to that year, brings up so many memories for me.
In a way, 6th grade was the time before life got complicated, but also the start of the complications. Growing up in elementary school, I was always well liked and so even though I was never in the "super popular" crowd, I always treaded just outside the "popular" group. In fact, it was that year, 6th grade, that I grew even closer to the line of "popularity" when I started "dating" the cousin of one of the "super popular", both of whom were in my class. I'm not really sure how the "relationship" ended, as I'm not really sure how much of a "relationship" a 6th grader really has with a member of the opposite sex... minus the staring into eat others eyes, holding hands and sitting next to each other.
Anyway, I do remember though that after that "relationship" fizzled out, I immediately gravitated to another boy in class. He was the class clown and always had people laughing. I've never been all that funny when I try to be, but my life seems to just produce hilarity, and so there was some sort of connection there. We hung out and did things together with our friends, but again it was only a "relationship" in the sense of our classmates thinking we were "together".
One day at school, we were probably messing around (although I'm not completely sure, as the details are real fuzzy now) and he held me against the wall, against my will for maybe 30secs to a minute. In my mind that less then a minute was an eternity and I had never felt so out of control in my life. Every reactive cell on my body went into high alert and my mind raced wondering how I got into that moment and how was I suppose to get out. Eventually the "joke" was over and we went our separate ways, but that moment has always stood with me. In so many ways, I often wonder if that was when I became the control freak that I am.
I'm not normally one who looks back on my life and thinks, "it's so and so's fault that I'm like this" or "had this person not done that I wouldn't be this way". Actually even with this situation, I don't blame anyone but myself, and I don't really think it's just this one moment in time that shaped everything. But it was my reaction to this situation that freaked me out and changed me in some ways. I never felt so out of control as I did in that moment and I never wanted to feel that way again. So I began learning how to protect myself and keep people at by and grip so tightly onto the world around me, that in some ways I actually felt like I could "make" life go how I wanted and "make" people act as I needed (it's not actually true, but at times it's how I have felt)!
Now as an adult, I am trying to figure out how to unlearn this skill. Or maybe it's more because now I'm really trying to figure out how to live out this Christian faith and surrender complete control of my life to God, that I realize how much of an issue "control" is for me. It's not one of those things in my character that I like to pinpoint. It's there, I know it's there, others see it sometimes, but I try to cover it up and pretend it's not an issue because for so long it's been my protection.
Yet, here I stand today wondering if instead of actually being a form of protection, that maybe in fact this need for some kind of control has actually been more like a cage that's held me in and kept me back from experiencing so much in life. I even think about love and how guarded I am in not only giving love, but mostly in receiving it. If I can't control how you will respond to my love or I can't control how you love, I have a hard time accepting it. And that's sad.
I know it's time to let this go. It's no accident that all of this came up just because I haven't been willing to get a haircut in a foreign country (which again probably shows my control issues), and I am seemingly reverting back to the looks I had in 6th grade (although...obviously..aged quite a bit). It's something I need to look at, deal with and then move away from....but man it's not easy! I guess growing never is though.