Daily Prompt – Conceal

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Now I am adult, I am beginning to understand how my imagination works. It is overactive to say the least. A grasshopper mind – leaping from one idea to another. I am unable to arrive home, pile out of the car and plonk on the lounge like so many people I know. When the car pulls in the driveway, the kids jump out and run for the house. They leave behind food wrappers, school bags, mail, shoes, jumpers, wet swimming costumes, towels and all manner of paraphernalia associated with children and cars.

When the silence settles in the car, I look at my phone and check emails. I do a lot of office work from the car. It is my cone of silence. Concealed within its warm confines, I make calls to friends relishing the peace of no interruptions. If one of the kids emerges from the house with a so called dilemma, I scowl at them for daring to break into my private time. I delay leaving my ‘office’ because I know once I step foot inside the house…the endless tasks which will keep me busy until 11pm at night…maybe later.

The point is I have an overactive brain which over thinks everything to the max. It’s exhausting and traumatising all at the same time. My internal chatter….full of worries and future plans…hopes and general weirdness, is no longer concealed within my private turmoil.

All my childhood I kept worries bottled up inside me. They kept me awake at night, until I heard kookaburras laughing outside in the bush at dawn. I heard them this morning and felt the same sense of comfort passing over me. Usually, I’m never awake at dawn. If I ever am awake at that time, I’m really cheesed off. Knowing the alarm is due to ring any minute and having to drag my sleep deprived body out of the concealed warmth of my doona, is not a happy thought. I think I was awake at dawn because I had a general anaesthetic yesterday and maybe my body felt it had been slumbering long and deep enough. Those kookaburras laughing so joyously were indeed comforting to hear and a reminder of those long lonely nights of worry as a child.

I was adept at concealing the pain of childhood worries. Cruel words of bullies at school, words my parents said to each other when they argued…the sound of Mums shoes landing on the timber floor and the sound of the clasp on her handbag snapping shut…her footsteps up the hallway and the car door slamming shut. I’d lie in bed worrying when she would come himages girl under moonlightome. I knew I wouldn’t sleep until I heard those footsteps coming down the hallway…..in the dead of night.

I’d worry about my best friend being taken away by another girl and how I dropped back and let them go. They didn’t notice I wasn’t there anymore. There was no point in forcing her to stay or forcing myself to hang on in hope. The ache in my little seven year old heart planted seeds for my later fear of separation and belief that nobody would want to stay with me forever. The belief became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As a teenager, I discovered the wonders of a diary. Every night I poured out my ‘edited’ thoughts and concealed them with a tiny silver key in a tiny silver padlock. I had to edit my thoughts for fear my older sister or Mum would read them.

“You’re so sneaky” my sister would accuse. The thing is, I wasn’t sneaky at all…I just hadn’t found someone to talk to….and trust.

When I was eighteen I started hairdressing. My employer hired me on the basis that if I could do my hair so well, I could do others. She had great faith in me. Every week she had her friend come to the salon for a practice shampoo and set. Every week I hoped her friend would phone in sick. But no….she arrived and my half day off was spent trying to put rollers in and twist small ‘C’ shaped sections of hair into a kind of snail shell configuration…carefully concealing the ends of her blunt, strong hair in neatly so as to avoid ‘fish hook ends’…..holding it tight before sliding a flat silver pin curl clip through the middle to secure it.

Inevitably the senior hairdresser extraordinaire would swoop gaily across the salon declaring my efforts a national emergency.

“Oh….Darrrrr…ling….no, no no!” with a condescending giggle. Snatching the comb from my setting lotion drenched hands and pulling out all my hard work. Pin curls and rollers would fly across the bench in front of the client and he would proceed to lean over me in the awkward way teachers do. He would bring with him the exciting, flamboyant conversation with ensuing laughter whilst teaching me the great skill of pin curling. I would stand  hunched between him and the client, feeling dull and useless, trying to conceal my shame and embarrassment at my general ineptitude.

Yet still, my employer kept the faith and sent me to a one day course on manicuring and pedicuring. It was out the back, concealed in the quiet of the beauty room, sitting on the floor, scraping callouses and cutting toenails, I found the person I had been needing all my life. My employer…. Mrs Fenwick, asked questions about me. She listened and offered suggestions. She asked me about my first boyfriend who waited down below on the streets with wilted carnations, long after I should have finished work. She became my mentor. She still is, but now she is so much more…at ninety eight she is my best friend. The only friend who has never left me. I try to conceal my sadness at the thought of one day she will leave me and the hole she will leave behind will never be filled.

Those salon days….those often difficult long days…of exhaustion and fear of failure, of triumphs and laughter…..they formed who I am today. I opened up to people. I stopped concealing my pain. I turned that blow dryer on and off I went. I shared secrets with my clients, they shared theirs. I had a different  relationship with all my clients…..I learned how to change ‘hats’…..change conversations to suit each person. I learned how to express myself…be dramatic…be funny….be emotional…..tell stories. I finally found an outlet to be me …my true personality no longer concealed within a fort of self preservation.

My sister didn’t like who I became. She preferred me to remain in her shadow. I have a lot to thank hairdressing for. It gave me….me. It gave me a beautiful friend. It gave me so much more than can be expressed here. Now I’m a mother of two children, I’m grateful we can love and laugh together. We share all our thoughts….sad ones and joyous happy ones. We lift each other up. Nothing has to be concealed.painting mother and children

5 thoughts on “Daily Prompt – Conceal

  1. Some of this is very like me through my childhood, teens and early adult years. Unlike you, I don’t have kids and I married very late. I’ve also mostly had a butterfly mind, and like you I experienced that feeling that there was nobody there for me, nobody to trust me or me them. Unlike you – but this is partially an age thing as I’m older than you (I think you’re in your early 50s? I’m mid-sixties) – a lot of my earlier anxieties have slipped away, and most of the desire to please and be pleasing to other people, and the aim for perfection, has gone. I suspect that’s a necessary survival skill that arrives as we age, and what was so important in our younger years, gradually drops away. You have that to look forward to. Lots of people dread it, but it’s not something to be frightened of, just another stage of life. Ask Mrs Fenwick, she’ll tell you. 🙂 As for losing her, when it’s her time to go – it will hurt, and it will hurt like hell, but when you’ve come through the other side of it, you’ll be a stronger person and you’ll know and trust yourself more. It’s also, as ever, another life-lesson, waiting to happen.

    1. Val, you write the most beautiful, encouraging things. I love your words of wisdom. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond with such love. It’s true..some of my anxieties have slipped away. Things like not being able to go in a lift or travel on a plane. For the most part, I can go in lifts now as long as they’re not to ancient and pokey! Good to know things do get better as we age. X

    2. Val, I was inspired by photos of your gorgeous garden and neighbouring countryside. Thought you might like to see an Aussie gumtree. It’s posted on my blog especially for you!

      1. Thank you! The flower is reminiscent of a bottle-brush – also from your part of the planet, though we have quite a few here that like to take root in our driveway!

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