People learn to cope with the world in different ways. Some healthy, some not. I have a friend who whenever life gets to much he leaves his family for the company of drugs and alcohol. He's never been able to develop a good coping mechanism. I was thinking of him yesterday when teaching a class of people with disabilities in Kamloops about relationships. Some folks had travelled to the session from Salmon Arm but most were from the local area.
I didn't recognize her at first, though I've met her several times. I understood why she looked so different when she came up to me at lunch and said, "Want to hear a funny story?" I nodded and she talked about being at the beach this summer and the wind catching her wig and throwing it into the water. She bent over in laughter. Then I recognized her, I pictured her in her wig. Today she was completely bald. Not a hair on her head, no eyebrows, nothing. I asked her, if she wouldn't mind, telling me how she came to lose her hair. She said that something had happened in her childhood and her hair just leapt off her head.
She made quite a sight, easy to pick out in a crowd. I could only imagine the kind of stares and comments that others made. But she bore herself well in the world, walked with confidence, bald head high. I came to understand why in the afternoon.
We had pairs together talking, each had to find out what the other's favourite flavour of cake, what they wanted for their birthday and what the first thing they would buy if they won the lottery. We laughed a lot as people came forward with little facts about each other. Learning to have a social conversation that isn't about 'you' is an important social skill. And they were 'getting it'.
When we got to her pair, she couldn't let the other person answer, it was like she was waiting. "What do you want for your birthday?" "Shampoo!" she yelled out. "What would you spend the lottery on, "Blow dryers!" came her answer and we all dissolved into laughter. Throughout the day she used her humour well. Sometimes she targetted herself and the bald head, sometimes me and the little mistakes I made through the day, sometimes - gently - others.
No wonder she holds her (bald) head high. She laughs at the world before the world can laugh at her.
Now there is a strategy and a half.
Shampoo, blow dryers, and a cocky attitude.