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It was just a wig. Saturday February 25, 2017

When I was seven I came home from school to find a woman in our kitchen with short light brown hair. I screamed. I demanded "What have you do with my mum?" She explained that she was my mum but how could she be, my mother had long dark brown hair that she always wore in a bun on top of her head.

I ran out of the house and down the street crying wondering where my mother was. Eventually this woman found me and took off her short hair and I realized she indeed was my mother. It was also the day I discovered what a wig was.

Everyone in my family laughs at this anecdote and chant, it was just a wig! They say how could you have feared a wig? In my defense, there were not a lot of wigs in the suburbs of Sydney in the 1960s!

I see it as the start of my having difficulty coping with change.

My mother assumed that a seven year old would be able to recognize her own mother but with a different hairstyle. Not me, my mother had the same hair colour and hairstyle all my seven years and I thought it would never change.

From this early age I always had difficulty with changes even if it was a desirable change. I have never avoided change I just find the thought of things being different to be challenging.

I am not talking about life changing events or traumatic changes but rather those changes we need to handle throughout our life.

What about you? Can you remember a moment, a story from your past or your present which illustrates how you cope with change?

Do you think it makes a difference if it is a desirable change rather than a negative change?


Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Sally Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 7:52am

I found this very interesting and thought provoking, Leah. You poor thing! Doesn't sound like you even got a very sympathetic explanation.
With our 32 year old with autism/ complex learning difficulties, we have to explain changes before they happen. Hair was / still is to some extent a huge challenge, and tips had to be found to get him to, e.g. Have a haircut, have his hair washed, or brushed or combed... I think hair is very personal ( it's close to the brain after all!) and we may feel invaded/ our space is being invaded ... kids certainly often have extreme reactions at the hairdressers ...
When I was about the same age as you then (7) I was spooked to see my mother with a face mask on. A lady had come to the house to do it. I still remember the fear to this day. "Don't be silly," I was told. But I wasn't being silly. My fear at seeing my lovely mum under a mask was genuine, and perhaps inexplicable to adults , but....real enough to me.
So now, I try not to say to the young people I support "Don't be silly" when something frightens or upsets them. After all, our emotions are with us for a reason . We must respect the emotions of others as well as our own.
Thank you Leah, from the bottom of my heart.

Leah Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 8:39am

Sally Thanks for sharing your story of your mum having a facial mask and how you felt. I liked when you say our emotions are with us for a reason. With your son you had to explain changes before they happened. I find that useful too and I call it explanation. Thanks again for your post.

Hopeful One Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 8:23am

Hi Leah - a blog from the top drawer. I can't think of an instance or a moment or story that helped me to cope with change except a slow realisation at an early age that life and change are inter linked . One cannot have one with out the other.

Here is today's laugh. Warning:this joke has adult content which some readers may find offensive.

An 80-year-old man is having his annual check-up. The doctor asks him how he's feeling. "I've never been better!" he replies. " You won't believe that I've got an 18-year-old bride who's pregnant and having my child! What do you think about that?" The doctor considers this for a moment, then says, "Well, let me tell you a story. I know a is an avid hunter. He never misses a season. But one day he's in a bit of a hurry and he accidentally grabs his umbrella instead of his gun. "So, he's in the woods, and suddenly a grizzly bear appears in front of him! He raises up his umbrella, points it at the bear, and squeezes the handle. The bear drops dead in front of him." That's impossible! Someone else must have shot that bear."
The doctor says ' Excatly'

Leah Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 8:41am

Hopeful One Thanks for your kind words. I like how you prepare us for the type of joke, so if it may offend we can choose not to read it. That joke is an oldie but a goody!!

Jane Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 9:38am

I like this Hopeful One, you made me smile. Thank you!

Leah Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 9:58am

Hopefuls jokes are one thing I hope wont change.

Jane Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 10:12am

Hear hear!

Hopeful One Sun, Feb 26th 2017 @ 6:18am

Hi Guys- thank you for your constructive comments. Leah life and change are synonymous . At the moment I am happy to carry on but all good things do someday come to an end.

Leah Sun, Feb 26th 2017 @ 9:04pm

Hopeful Why do all things have to come to an end and bad things linger? Sometimes the reverse can happen.

Sally Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 8:32am

Haha, nice one, Hopeful One.

Orangeblossom Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 9:12am

Hi Leah, I don't mind change so much but I find endings ver difficult. Although I am a Cruse Bereavement Supporter, I do struggle with Endings. I reckon it is change from a different perspective. Hope that all your transitions are smooth & unstressful.

Leah Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 9:34am

Orangeblossom Thanks for your reply. I suppose some changes do involve an ending. Thanks for making me think.

Jane Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 9:36am

Hi Leah, you poor thing, this must have been really traumatic for you. The changes which impacted my life all happened when I was 11, and all negative unfortunately. A new girl started at my very small village primary school and pushed me out of the friendship I had with my then best friend. My 'boyfriend' decided he liked someone else more than me, and my beloved brother, who I worshipped, got a girlfriend and told me to 'get lost' one day. Something he had never ever said to me before. At the age of 11 these all felt major and have been the underpinning of my lack of self esteem ever since, casing me to make wrong choices again and again. As an adult now I take full responsibility for these choices though and I'm working on change which is very, very scary as the old habits feel easier. Thanks for the blog Leah xx

Leah Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 9:56am

Jane I wish I had been there when you were 11 and I would have been your friend!! I think adults underestimate what happens to 11 year olds. You had s many changes no wonder it has affected you. I am glad you are working on changing thins and I wish you all working on changing things and I wish you all the best.x

Jane Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 10:12am

Thanks Leah, that's so nice! I wish you had been there too. But you are here now and that's really great. Thank you! Xx

Leah Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 10:18am

AsSally wrote we really need to listen to young people and not dismiss their fears, worries as nothing but help them to learn how to cope with changes and setbacks. Tanka Jane

The Gardener Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 2:11pm

Leah, a goody. This could never have happened to me - my Ma was as stuck in the wood as any woman could be - she paid the price - as, often, she was taken as my Pa's Mum and I was taken for his sister he hunted something prettier/more interesting/brighter, and paid the price. I had (to my surprise) been regarded as having good bones to my face - now, exhaustion has set in. I pulled the spare flesh behind my ears, and, voila! a nice sharp chin appeared. I ventured the idea of a face lift - the reaction! (I was then in my 70's). Fourth child, a daughter 'Don't you dare, Mum'. Just wheel-chaired Mr G to and from restaurant - made fuss of - plastered my white sleep-deprived face with tan make-up. Does it fool anybody? Actually got varnish on my nails (less to look nice, but because all my gardening gloves have holes in). Have a 2-week respite coming up - Doctors and family worried about my physical/emotional/psychiatric state. Shall I do something silly, like cutting my hair? No, take stock of situation, find extra help - lots youngsters about - why not get them to wheel Mr G up to the sports stadium when they play handball and phone me to fetch him when he gets bored? Doctors warned him, and me, that his total immobility will lead to acute respiratory problems. He is hawking, spitting, belching - and I have no sympathy - am I heartless and cruel? A friend, dying of lung cancer, said he would not swap his problems for mine - you can fight cancer, you can't fight Alzheimer. Your blog great, Leah - you can change the outward appearance - but what goes on inside is much more difficult to change/manage. All second son's family in Melbourne this week-end. Jealous? Moi? Not seen much of that city, but, Oh, to be there.

Leah Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 8:11pm

The Gardener As I always say your posts are so fascinating ,honest and revealing and give us so much to think about. I hope you make the most of your 2 week respite. Years ago when my mother had dementia no there was much less awareness around I found I only got sympathy and support when she developed cancer. I thought where was this understanding when I really needed it. I am glad attitudes have changed even though of course it does not make it any easier for families coping with a loved one with Alzheimers. You cope with changes on a daily basis if not hourly.Sending hugsxx

Rosemary Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 6:46pm

Hi Leah.
Your blog resonated deeply with me as I too have found change one of the most consistent challenges throughout my life (how's that for an oxymoron?) I never understood why I felt that way but would actively avoid change wherever possible. As I got older I realised that my Mum had found change difficult too so maybe that's where I originally learned it from. Later again (in adulthood) in a self awareness session I realised my fear came from an association that change equates to death. That was a revelation to me. I began looking deeper into how these two thoughts had become linked and realise now that throughout childhood, as change was avoided, the only 'unavoidable' change was usually forced upon us/me through death (loss of a pet, loss of a grandparent or friend) Once I got my head around this I decided to start orchestrating small changes that wouldn't create a negative or sad outcome and so stop change ruling me. Bit by bit I am learning to cope with change and I believe it has saved me. Had I not started to learn to cope with smaller changes a few years back I dread to think how I would have coped with the ultimate 'change' of losing both my parents. Thank you for sharing your experience x

Leah Sat, Feb 25th 2017 @ 8:18pm

Rosemary Thanks for your thoughtful reply and for sharing your experiences. I Think I am the opposite to you. In my 40s I coped with my parents' deaths, my divorce, a dear friend's death, moving a few times and many other changes.Those big things I managed but small tings like coping with a new phone or a change of routine still challenge me.. Does that sound strange?

Rosemary Sun, Feb 26th 2017 @ 1:23pm

No not strange at all Leah, we are all challenged in different ways; it's once we start to recognise what our own personal challenges are that we are able to begin the long road to change our response (excuse the pun) and so begin to cope. Sounds like you're doing brilliantly to me :)

Leah Sun, Feb 26th 2017 @ 9:06pm

Thanks Rosemary I think changing one's response is the key not the actual change. I will think about that.

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