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#403261 - 07/11/12 01:24 PM Haircuts & anxiety
CruxFidelis Offline

Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
Lately my wife has been on my back about getting a haircut. I agree with her that it's been awhile and that before my life completely fell apart, I would have gotten haircuts more often. I think she tries not to nag but she could be a little more subtle. "Look, they opened up some fancy barbershop in south orange." "Oh, there's a groupon for you want me to get it for you?" It's been a few months and I guess it bothers her because it's not the way I took care of myself before the rape.

I would have an easier time if it wasn't for the fact that people touching my head and hair is triggering--especially other men. The last time I went to the barber it was like nails on a chalkboard the whole time. WHen the rape happened, it was in the hospital and he used to run his fingers through my hair with this dry shampoo stuff. I still can't STAND the smell of that. I hate the idea of another man touching my hair. This ordinarily wouldn't be overwhelming but I have to deal with enough as it is.
If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.

- Saint John of the Cross

#403265 - 07/11/12 01:55 PM Re: Haircuts & anxiety [Re: CruxFidelis]
SamV Offline

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 5972
Loc: Sunnny, South East USA
Wow, do I get this! Anything proximal that controls or overwhelms me is triggering. Haircuts are really triggering, although looking at it through the wisdom of recovery, the burden and anxiety lay more in the hands of the barber than I. Showers, bathing, swimming, putting a belt on, confined spaces... these are all triggering and I need to be present and rely on awareness and relaxation methods to persevere.

I sat through years of bad haircuts with the same barber because I was too overwhelmed to speak up. When I did, she adjusted the style and I felt it looked great. Now that my hair is receding, I wonder why I waited so long. wink

There was an experience about being panicked I want to share Pete. When I was just getting into recovery, I was helping some guys build a deer camp. I was measuring siding and I was on a ladder. As a carpenter for 20 plus years, this is something I do everyday. He asked for the measurement, and I panicked. I sat there trembling on the top of that ladder, my arms outstretched and tears in my eyes. In a few moments, I was able to compose myself and give him the numbers. The moral of the story is that survivors will face many anxious triggers, some of which we cannot understand, some of which have a connection. The resolution is to face the fear, go into it, and reveal to ourselves that there is nothing to fear.

You are beginning that path, I am encouraged in this share. In time you may come to take another step. When you are ready, we will be here to support you and to celebrate with you in your progress.

MaleSurvivor Moderator Emeritus 2012 - 2014

#403316 - 07/11/12 07:41 PM Re: Haircuts & anxiety [Re: CruxFidelis]
CruxFidelis Offline

Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
A lot of the things you mentioned (showers, swimming, putting a belt on) really aggravate me, too. I have some physical issues that require assistance from other people for some every day things. It's been awhile since I've taken a shower or gotten dressed completely alone. Sometimes people who are trying to help get upset because I am frustrated and lash out. I always got frustrated with requiring help before the assault, but afterwards the frustration just got magnified x100. I see an OT and she says that severe trauma can mess with your brain's sensory integration. She says that is why sometimes physical touch feels like nails on a chalkboard to me now, when before the assault I was fine with situationally appropriate touch.

I can relate to not being ale to speak up in triggering situations. that is exactly what happened last time I went to the barber. He just kept doing his thing and I zoned out. I am sure it didn't help that it was kind of loud in there and the chemical smell made me nauseated.

My wife goes to some hairdresser that works out of her basement and sees one client at a time. But my wife is also completely OK with spending an outrageous amount of money on a haircut.

it is just weird that an everyday thing like a haircut would get me so stressed out now.
If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.

- Saint John of the Cross

#403323 - 07/11/12 07:53 PM Re: Haircuts & anxiety [Re: CruxFidelis]
ACRoberts Offline

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 242
Loc: New Jersey (recently moved fro...
Your response to Sam really triggered me. My wife is the survivor of a pedestrian hit and run which left her with disabled with significant cognitive deficits due to a brain injury / surgery on the left temporal area. I am beating myself up now for not being more understanding after what your OT told you. I don't mean to highjack your post, just wanted to share that your post is giving me a chance to heal more.

WOR Sequoia 2011--it has changed my life!

#403329 - 07/11/12 09:08 PM Re: Haircuts & anxiety [Re: CruxFidelis]
CruxFidelis Offline

Registered: 06/16/10
Posts: 486
Loc: NJ
glad my story could help someone.

I think that sensory integration is an emerging field and psychologists are still learning a lot about how we process both day to day experiences and also traumas like sexual abuse. I am pretty sure a head injury would affect sensory integration, too. There are things caregivers can do to make things easier. I have found that even if someone tells me what they are going to do before they do it, even that small moment's notice makes a big difference in how something affects me.

i am sure with sexual assault part of it is that I am on edge with trying to protect myself. knowing what is going to happen before it happens doesn't trigger the "fight or flight" response like having someone touch you with no advance warning.
If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.

- Saint John of the Cross

#403370 - 07/12/12 04:34 AM Re: Haircuts & anxiety [Re: CruxFidelis]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4285
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
CF et al -

i too have a problem with haircuts. partly from being touched, partly just having a guy behind me, partly because the step-father (abuser) was such a stickler for haircuts. i found that the female hairdressers in a unisex shop were not a problem for me. (guess it depends on who your perps were.)

other triggers = getting fitted for a tux or suit - all the measuring and touching. if i put the tape around myself and the tailor just reads it, it is not as bad.

public showers - still a problem = unless i can be alone. at camps and so on - i go early or late when no one else is around - but very anxious in case some one else comes along and there is just the 2 of us...

crowds - another trigger - i try to stay out of the thick press of people - along a wall or let the majority go ahead. i may be the last one to the parking lot - but i breathe easier.

learning to live with the triggers has been a big thing for me recently - helpful to hear others discuss it.

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#403461 - 07/13/12 05:33 AM Re: Haircuts & anxiety [Re: CruxFidelis]
TheTwoOfUs Offline

Registered: 11/03/11
Posts: 149
Loc: USA
I have yet to be able to sit for a proper haircut since the assault, either. Same problem, can't stand ANYONE near my head or hair.

I've gone so far as to just do it myself anymore these days. Store-bought clippers and good to go since I pretty much keep it like I had it in uniform anyway, nothing fancy needed.

If it's specifically a male stylist, have you tried maybe approaching a place with a female stylist? Just a thought...

Adapt. Overcome. Survive.

#403509 - 07/13/12 05:06 PM Re: Haircuts & anxiety [Re: CruxFidelis]
bodyguard8367 Offline

Registered: 05/16/12
Posts: 1159
Loc: ""

Edited by bodyguard8367 (02/27/14 12:14 AM)
Edit Reason: SILENCED

#403529 - 07/13/12 09:41 PM Re: Haircuts & anxiety [Re: CruxFidelis]
men_of_hrts.dbw Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 302
Loc: Orchidland Big Island Hawaii
I used to keep my appearance conservative and clean cut because of my career after the Marine Corps...then after three decades l disclosed and stopped getting regular cuts. But l was never uncomfortable in the chair or any triggers.
Seems now l care less and my personal hygiene is not what it was before disclosure.
I don't look shaggy but its longer and l even have a pretty big tatoo on my left forearm..a survivor tat.
The bathroom and shower is a heavy trigger. Unrecognized before disclosure l alway had anxiety and took fast showers..anyone who lived with me noticed it. But some of the torture happened in the bathtub. l know am aware of the connection.
Thankfully here in Hawaii l have an outdoor shower with a wonderful view ot the volcano thru the tropical jungle and it is soothing.

Last haircut was over at one of my Bush Vet brothers home..he's a PTSD'ed combat Marine...and we all were drinking late having midnight target practice and lifting weights..four of us..and Imentioned l needed a cut so out came the clippers and soon all of us had shaved heads. Funny the next day all of us had white heads from no sun tan.
I always said good thing we don't have a tatoo gun!!
Doug>ASA Survivor (1x)
ECV 6001/MaTuCa Chapter 1849
E Clampus Vitus
"What Say the Brethren"
"Hang the Bastards"

#403944 - 07/18/12 08:24 AM Re: Haircuts & anxiety [Re: CruxFidelis]
Anomalous Offline

Registered: 03/07/10
Posts: 2241
Hi Pete,

I do not know if this will fit your needs, but if you do not "style" your hair and have it cut to the same length all the way around, a pair of clippers with various length adapters on it might work for you.

You might also be able to find a qualified person to cut your hair who will come to your home (who won't charge an outrageous price). That way you won't be subjected to the chemical odors.

Of course, you can always give your wife the scissors ....... wink

Acceptance on someone else's terms is worse than rejection.


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