Friday, May 4, 2012

Therapy From Behind the Chair

After 21 years of being a hairstylist I have learned that I not only make hair happy, but often being a "therapist behind the chair" I tend to make brains happy too. I have had droves of clients over the years who poured their hearts out and their minds... shared their good stories, their bad stories and their dirty secrets. It's like having one of those trash gossip magazines in front of you everyday, but you actually KNOW the people. (it's probably why I don't read that stuff or watch reality TV!) Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's sad, and other times it's just plain weird; but I know that regardless of how the story goes, they need me and I am cheaper than a psychiatrist. 

I always feel blessed when a client thanks me for listening, for offering advice or for being honest (I am blunt to the core) I have had some of them tell me that I am the only person they know that will tell it like it is, and that is why they choose me when they need an honest opinion. I admit it... I am a straight shooter, the REAL DEAL, I don't candy coat or beat around the mulberry bush... if you ask me I will tell you... the TRUTH. I am the kind of girl that will tuck your shirt tag in, tell you you have remnants of lunch in your teeth and if you ask me if something makes you look fat I will say yes if it does. (isn't that why you ask?) Many people in my life have misinterpreted my honesty for rudeness... I say if honesty is rude then I am a very rude person and I am proud of it. I am diplomatic with my delivery (that was learned over the years) but bottom line is I will give you the bottom line. I will encourage and discourage depending on the situation, I will listen and give you my best judgement call. That's me... like it or not. It has done me well thus far despite the haters (who obviously love liars) so I see no need to change this quality.

With this topic in mind, I am choosing to share an excerpt from my book that will be coming out in August. This excerpt tells a story that I will never forget and a lesson I will always hold close to my heart. Being a "chic behind the chair" I have learned that what I say is very important and has impact on others; making me full aware of the advice I give... the words I say and the realization that having someone to talk to can be all that some people need. 

Enjoy your night... 

When I was twenty-two, I owned a hair and tanning salon in Lyman, SC. I had a client that used to come in every other day to tan and once a month to get her hair colored and cut. She was a very attractive lady, although she was self conscious about her weight. A week went by without me seeing her and I noticed her absence. I thought maybe I should call her but before I could she dropped in unexpectedly one day to get a shampoo and blow dry. This was really odd… she always made appointments and honestly never just got shampooed and blown out. I proceeded to shampoo her hair, asking how she had been and she claimed to be okay although I could tell something was not quite right. The last time I had seen her, her marriage was ending and she was a mess. She had begun blaming it on her weight and anything else she could put blame on herself for. I always tried to tell her how beautiful she was, and she truly was… she was a great person, and although a little depressed at times she truly had a lot to be thankful for. Now, I have no idea what I said to her that day that resonated… I was just being my normal self saying God knows what and even though I did not pry I could tell something was wrong. She was staring blankly into the mirror most of the visit; the only time she would engage in what was going on was when she would ask me what had been going on with me; which is when I would go off on some rant about the recent events in my world. My life was like a whirlwind of existence back then; after all, I was a single mother and raging entrepreneur so I always had a story to tell. I have never censored my life, and even though some people see that as a fault I know that by being transparent I create an instant comfort for people that would not normally occur. I am real… not superficial and certainly far from fake. What you see is what you get and I will give my true opinion and the whole story if you ask for it. I finished ranting… checked her out, and she made her next appointments for tanning and color. She hugged me really tight that day and walked out.
A few days later, she came in for an appointment and we were at the salon alone. She thanked me for taking her in that day at which point I casually asked, “Yeah, what was wrong, I know something was up?” This is when I realized that one moment, one breath; one phrase can really change someone’s life forever. I seriously don’t think I realized how one person could impact your entire being until this moment… she proceeded to tell me that she had planned to commit suicide that day, she had just stopped to get sleeping pills on the way home from work and my salon was also on her way home. She said that I inspired her to keep living. I think back to that day as I literally stood in shock, I remember the chills that ran down my spine, I remember an eerie sense of responsibility and how that one moment could have just as easily had the opposite effect. I could not help to think about what could have happened if I had not taken the time to “fit her in”. It was surreal… still is. She impacted me as much as I impacted her. I will never forget her, or that moment. It is exactly why I am so careful what I say. I speak only words that I know I mean… and when it is something that will be hard for the other party to hear; I am careful with the delivery. It may also very well be the reason I sometimes hold negative feelings in just to avoid the “responsibility” of what could come of it.

“The impact of a word is far greater than you think, so mean what you say, and say only what you mean… there are consequences for everything” SG 2010