My married friends are staying away from me because I’m going through a separation.
There. I’ve said it.
Some of this is of course meant jokingly because we’re all busy moms and frankly it’s damn hard to make the stars align in favour of a margarita and good old-fashioned catch up.
Some of it however, means exactly what you think it means.
“I can only come out for a couple hours because M is watching the kids tonight.”
“That’s totally cool.”
“Well. OK... it’s so dumb, but actually it’s because he’s terrified that you’re contagious.”
“Hahaha..contagious.. You know… that we’re going to get separated too.”
Ok. I kind of get it, but I’m totally back in grade 8 right now feeling like my friends can’t hang with me because then the cool kids won’t talk to them at lunch. It’s because I don’t have Tretorn sneakers or those cool pompom socks, isn’t it?! It’s because I wear Converse hightops instead..
How did this happen? Is it possible that somehow I have become the dreaded ‘home-wrecker by association’?
In the past I’ll admit I’ve fully avoided couples or friends in certain types of distress because I didn’t want to be caught in the middle, or find myself picking sides. I’ve given them space to work things out, sent meek emails or left voice messages now and again, but barely engaged with them the way I used too.
Also, it’s not grade 8, my footwear is rocking, and I’m emotionally secure enough to look at these issues from multiple perspectives. Giving someone space is pretty much the same as treating them as if they’re contagious if you think about it, except that instead of being purely self-preservational, couples are more assertive because they are also trying to save their own relationships.
Now I know that this points to ‘well that just means that they know they have issues in their own relationship’ but guess what? I’m going to say that couples are fully allowed to be fragile and protective of each other.
I kind of get why it would be scary to have your partner hang out with the
devil incarnate ‘friend who is going through a separation.’
Any group of friends can be a fast study at mob mentality. Throw in some drinks, and voila. We've all done it — gone home with someone else’s problems coursing through our veins along with a batch of martinis, and all of a sudden our significant other is listening to our newfound enlightened truth about how men and women communicate.
You know I’m right.
But when did I become a bad guy, and more importantly...am I a bad guy?
I called one of my other besties to gain perspective.
“Well, a relationship is going to go through what it’s going to go through no matter who you’re hanging out with. But yeah, I think it terrifies guys in committed relationships when there’s a break up around them. Especially when there’s no super-obvious flaw visible to the naked eye.. you know? Then I’m thinking they just get insecure and more possessive over their partners and relationships in general.”
Ah. Well now, that makes more sense. It doesn’t make me feel better, but does give me a vantage point from some Ledge of Emotional Maturity.
Are we all secretly petrified that the relationships we have and cherish could just ‘poof’ disappear?
Is it actually different than grade 8?
Is my relationship status right now, the bad pair of glasses, the head-gear, the zit in the middle of my nose, or the bowl-cut my mother gave me that made me a complete pariah?
Or do the cool kids know deep inside that this shrimpy little geek is going to rule the world one day?
That’s right. I’m drinking my milk. I’m going my own way. I am totally going to rock whatever life throws me.
I’m going to be bigger than Tiffany.
Even if I’m not wearing the right shoes.
What do you think?
Are you comfortable with your hubs or wife hanging out with someone newly separated?
Do you think that because they are ‘newly single’ and ‘going through a rough time’ that it translates into ‘a license to be party/indulge’? Does that intimidate you
Do you think that your relationship could ever be influenced by someone else’s situation?
I think we’re alone now..
How did I even get here?
I’m standing in a room full of extremely powerful people. It’s a Canadian Women in Communications event and I'm a last-minute tag along addition.
“I’m Erica’s date,” I find myself saying. It’s easier than delving into an explanation of what exactly I do these days—a smattering of project management, design, writing, marketing, brand building, film production and motherhood.
My palms are sweaty and I know that at some point I’m going to dribble food down my shirt because that’s what always happens when I want to make a good impression.
I feel like I have food in my teeth. Do I have food in my teeth? Oh God.
I look at Erica and she smiles encouragingly at me. I take a sip of my wine and surreptitiously swish it through my teeth just in case.
I’m standing in Linda Schuyler’s living room. No biggie. Not a big deal at all. She just created the gospel according to Degrassi is all. My face is burning and my eyes are getting dryer by the second.
She’s walked up to us and is now chatting with Erica about the last time they hung out, so long ago. They’re trading updates, talking about their kids and the conversation comes to a natural pause.
Oh crap. Just say something. Shake hands. No wait. Sweaty palms.. you have gross sweaty palms. Just do something Kat, don’t freeze. Oh balls.
I jumpstart my courage and turn to my right to introduce myself but some keen, poised start-up has extended their hand and gracefully launched into an elevator pitch. Crap. I smile meekly.
I’m sure there’s something in my teeth. My tongue darts around my mouth searching for strays.
How did I get here?
I look at Erica and her eyes are laughing at me. “Just be you. Have fun.” I take a deep breath and try to lose myself in listening to the stories of the fascinating women in the room.
Erica is speaking at tonight’s event. And when Erica Ehm gets up to speak you know it’s going to be something good.
You just do.
It doesn’t matter what the event is, who the audience is. She’ll be genuine, articulate, and deliver the kind of message that will leave courage buzzing in the small of your back.
Tonight, she’s talking about ‘How to Get What You Want’. I have no idea what the content is going to be because Erica is notorious for delivering presentations that somehow always hit the nail on the head even though she only has a vague idea of what’s going to go into it when she starts out. She’s a pro.
The room exchanges timid, friendly smiles as we settle into our spots. Erica shifts from one foot to the other and somehow as she gets ready to speak her presence grows exponentially, silently captivating every pair of eyes. Her voice is clear, strong, and powerful.
“..One of the most important things that I learned to get what I want was to ‘Just Ask’… The other was to say “F_ck off.”
My face breaks into a grin. I scan the room and am rewarded with the perfect moment – the moment that every woman’s shock turns to delicious approval. The nodding and smiling puts a spark in everyone’s eyes. This isn’t a lecture anymore.
This is sheer flammable enthusiasm.
The evening shifts into an organic group conversation about women, social norms, strategies to support one another, and how to harness success. It’s a level playing field—there is no such thing as a stupid question or an out of place comment.
We talk about leading corporate monoliths, corporate culture, the importance of forging ahead into the unknown as an entrepreneur. We talk about mentors and motherhood.. we talk about zombies and Transformers and Snoopy Sno-cone Machines.
By the end of the night we are friends on the same team and I am feeling grateful, overwhelmed, and electric.
I decide that I’m going to walk up to Linda Schuyler, introduce myself, and tell her that I’m making my first short film even though my mouth is dry and my palms are sweaty. I realize that if I don’t say the things that I want to say.. if I don’t just jump in and take a risk I’ll never get anywhere. Worse, I’ll regret not saying something. And I don't believe in regret.
“So Linda I’m totally going to be ballsy and tell you that I’m producing my first short film.”
“What’s it about?” She was smiling. Smiling. That’s good, right?
And then something happened.
I relaxed. I just started talking. I told her all about the script, our approach, how we were trying to market ourselves while positioning the project as a resource for film makers.
She was asking me questions that made me think. I was answering. We were laughing.
Erica was right.
Sometimes you do have to Just Ask. Even if it’s asking yourself why you’re getting in your own way.
Sometimes you have to tell your fear of being judged to just F_ck Off.
It’s a good feeling, finally giving yourself permission to succeed.
Thanks to Erica Ehm, my amazing friend, employer, client, and mentor for taking a chance on a girl she picked up on Twitter.
Thanks to Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn for being totally authentic and so generous with their time and insights.
And thanks to the CWC for providing such an incredible, supportive forum for women in communications to learn from each other, take chances, and grow together.
See you at the next event.
I shake my fist at you, evil Telogen Effluvium! You are my arch nemesis! Gah.
A severe dip in Estrogen can make your hair shed quickly and leave you feeling well, bald. Whether you’re post partum, changing birth control, recovering from a miscarriage or just plain stressed — separation, ahem — here are 3 things to keep in mind when you’re terrified about losing it all.
First, here’s some general info about the treatable condition that is all too common among moms (and much more common in women) thanks to Dr. Peter Vignjevic, Dermatologist’s website and various other chat-rooms and threads I’ve been obsessively combing over. Ha. No pun.. oh hell it was totally intended.
Telogen Effluvium starts 6 to 12 months after a significant stress to the body like large weight loss, having a baby, divorce, death of a family member. You know, your basic traumas. No biggie.
This shedding will continue for about 12 to 18 months and then stop even though it feels like it won't. The hair will regrow spontaneously—that’s right. This will not cause you to become ‘bald,’ it’s not dangerous, not contagious, and not actually due to diet. There’s no scarring of the scalp—you can totally get back to your previous state of bounce-back beautiful hair.
But knowing this still doesn’t make me feel a whole lot better when I look like a troll pencil-topper in the morning. A shedding, troll, pencil topper. Shudder.
I have always had fine hair. It’s fly away, and Fraggle-ish, it requires an incredible amount of patience and is prone to breakage when I’m stressed, not eating, or not sleeping properly, etc. I have nightmares that I’m going to have to buff my scalp, and I still sob uncontrollably during Tangled.
I have had hair extensions.
I have had long hair.
I have had short hair.
I’ve done the Rachel, and the Pob.
I have been a brunette, a blonde, a red head; shaved it, waif-ed it, and full-fringed it.
After a baby, two losses, relationship rollercoaster and a general hormone circus my head is fried no matter how many supplements I take. Like, blooming onion fried.
Here are 3 things I have learned to get through the ultimate bad hair day with your head held high and your hair held higher!
NOT EVERYONE CAN TELL
You might feel like Lex Luthor but chances are you don’t look very different to your friends and family. Trust me. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about my hair issues. There are some simple tricks and products out there to help you create more of a va-voom look for your locks, so take a break for yourself, do some surfing for great reviews or head to Sephora for some samples or find some fun tips in our beauty section.
CHANGE IT UP
If you find that your esteem is starting to be eclipsed by your hair, go to your stylist and find a change that gets you excited. It seems like everyone has a theory, approach, or best cut or colour to offer based on face shape, age, and colouring. At the end of the day the only person who has to feel excited and comfortable about a style is you.
I don’t know if that means highlights, a bob, or a purple pixie cut in your world, but any kind of change is super cathartic whether you’re single again for the first time, or you're a mom for the 10th time.
If you are hiding under your covers, actively changing your social habits to avoid going out, or you feel a sense of alarm at the amount of shedding you see, make an appointment with your doctor stat.
Even if it’s totally normal, it still helps to ease your mind/scalp.
You might get a referral to a dermatologist, a prescription for various creams and sprays, some suggestions for supplements or tips for healthy lifestyle changes.
If there is no underlying cause for your loss, you might get some blood-work done to rule out over/underactive thyroid issues as well.