What do you do when life throws everything at you all at once?

When it feels like your life and everything in it is spinning out of control and there’s no end in sight?

I have a habit of doing superficial things (haircuts, hair color, tattoos) because they give me control of something. If nothing else, I can control that. But let me back up a bit, to when this all started.

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, I awoke from a nap to a text from my dad. He said that my sister, Rae, and mom were in a car accident, and that Rae was going to be moved to the trauma center at an area hospital. Of course, my heart sunk. And that’s nothing compared to what I felt when he unexpectedly sent me a picture of the wreckage. It was far worse than I had expected from what I had been told so far, and I dropped my phone when I saw it, because my PTSD from my car accident last winter reared its ugly head, and it was everything I could do to keep my food down.

I had a shoot scheduled for that evening, so once I found out that my sister’s condition wasn’t critical and that my mother had been released, so the rest of my family was on their way to be with Rae, I decided to go ahead with the shoot and then drive up afterward.

This shoot was for Charlie’s parents… it was their wedding anniversary, so they were doing a nice dinner at a local vineyard with family and friends, and had asked if I would mind taking a few pictures for them. Since these are my second parents, I of course obliged, despite the fact that Charlie’s husband, Preston, whom I despise (and not for the reasons you would think), was going as well. I made it through the rather awkward eating and Preston’s multiple unscheduled stops on the way home, packed my bag, and hauled ass to meet The Chill, who, due to my PTSD and terrible night vision, had agreed to meet me and drive me to the hospital.

We arrived very late, and my sister looked so small and broken… We are 10 years apart, and I feel more like a parent figure to her than a sister most of the time. Seeing her there like that, covered in bruises and cuts and gauze, almost broke me. Although I knew better, I still felt like I should be able to fix it, to make things easier on her. Rae was barely conscious at all for the first couple of days, and when she was, I wished she wasn’t. She suffered a broken sternum, shattered left foot and ankle, a lacerated spleen, and a concussion. And anytime she was awake, the pain sounds coming out of here were like nothing I had ever heard outside of a delivery room. She had surgery on her foot the morning after the accident, and is facing at least one more surgery, months of physical therapy, and at least a year before she will be able to walk normally again.

The Chill and I left that afternoon, so that she could get back to her son and I could go home for awhile. And as soon as I got here, I was wracked with guilt for leaving. I knew there was nothing I could do, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like I should. About the time that my husband came in to find my sobbing over a sinkful of dishes, we decided that I needed to be at the hospital. We arranged for my monster-in-law to keep the kids so my husband could go to work, and I would just have to be home the next morning in time to get the kids off to school.

I got a speeding ticket on Easter, and had not had the money to pay it yet. I had called the court the previous week to see about my options, and the woman I spoke with told me I had no options, that if it wasn’t paid by Tuesday, I would lose my license. I left the hospital Monday, and called the court again after I got home to see if I had any more options, because I had no way to pay the fine, and I thought there should be a payment plan option or something that the woman I spoke to hadn’t offered me. Upon calling, I was told that my license had already been suspended since the previous Thursday (the day I called). I now would have to come up with money to pay the fine as well as a reinstatement fee.

I had no choice but to keep driving. A few days later, I woke up late, and had to drive my preschooler to school. Halfway home, my car began billowing white smoke out from under the hood, and it died as soon I pulled off and let off the gas. Seeing as how my phone was of course dead, and I couldn’t risk a cop stopping to help, I managed to get it started and home, driving through the smoke, and into my driveway before it gave up for good. After calling my dad, I found out that the engine was blown and that the car would be useful as a two-ton paperweight and not much more. Thankfully, my dad had someone who was giving him a car (I know right? People give him cars all the time. It’s crazy.) and he said that he would get it fixed up for me to drive. Now, 2 weeks later, the car has still never made it to him.

That weekend, The Chill, La Rana, and I had a girls’ night planned. We would meet at The Chill’s house, go out for sushi, and laugh our asses off all evening. However, some things that had been said between Charlie and I the night before were eating at me, and I took the opportunity while I had a support system close by to text and ask her about it. She had been acting strangely, saying some things that seemed odd, and making sure we weren’t alone together for a couple of weeks. Long story short, she broke up with me. I thank goddess for my Geodon, because if I hadn’t been so evened out on my new meds, I think I would’ve snapped right there. As it was, I thanked her for waiting until I was better, and then broke down, with my girls right beside me holding me together.

I had planned to get a Murphy tattoo (like Murphy’s law, anything that can go wrong with me will) as a way to own the bad luck and hopefully change it (superstitious, I know). A week after Charlie dumped me, I hit a breaking point with the stress and decided I needed to do one of my therapeutic things to get my power back, as it were. I couldn’t however get the tattoo that night- I would have to wait ill 8:30 the next evening. Knowing that I had the appointment didn’t ease the feeling that I was crawling out of my skin. So I bleached my whole head. No dice. All I got was a headful of fried ends. So the next day, I cut my hair- nothing crazy, just a trim, enough to lose the dead ends. I got my tattoo that evening, and OH MY GOD I forgot how much tattoos hurt on your foot. It was like liquid fire being injected into my foot. But it’s worth it, to end the bad luck. Right?

WRONG.

La Rana has been kind enough to allow me to borrow her van for most of the last two weeks while I wait on the car from my dad. We can’t manage with just one car- we have too many kids that need to be too many different places. Last night, my husband gets home from baseball practice to inform me that he no longer has any brakes on his car. Like, at all. He rode the emergency brake the entire way home, and intends to continue to drive the car that way until we can get it fixed. I think he’s insane, but there’s not much I can do about it, since I haven’t yet figured out how to sell a kidney or pull money out of my ass.

So today, in a last ditch attempt to ease the feelings of being out of control, I did something a little crazy… I got an undercut. By which I mean I had La Rana shave the Deathly Hallows symbol into the back of my head (and if you don’t know what that is, SHAME ON YOU). And you know what? I’m still panicking, but I actually feel a little bit better. I’m still ridiculously stressed, and am not sure how we’re going to crawl out of this hole… but I can breathe for a minute.

And if nothing else, I have another tattoo appointment next weekend.

 

***Disclaimer: I know, I know. You’re wondering, “How is she affording tattoos if they’re so broke?” Well, it’s because I have a habit of trading services.  In the case of these two, I’m doing family pictures for free in exchange for my ink. So ppppppffffffffffllllllllllttttttttt. I’m not as irresponsible as you thought. Haha.

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