It was only three days later when she called to make another appointment and I happily scheduled her. In fact I looked forward to hearing how her previous engagement went and how the changes we had made were received by her husband and all who were in attendance that evening. She arrived fifteen minutes late that day due to the baby situation and her Mother arriving late to help her. Her demeanor was very angry and it took a while to calm her down. The use of four letter word sentences came quite easily for her and made for an enlightening experience in vocabulary. Her mood was tense to say the least and after another twenty minutes of venting we made it to the shampoo area to start our appointment.
As she lay back in the chair she immediately told me how she looked forward to having me run my fingers through her hair again. I took it as a compliment at first and replied a big “Thank You” which led to her hand patting my thigh. I shrugged it off and continued my work and when I helped her up from the chair she swiftly grabbed me and hugged me which knocked me off balance a bit and broke the embrace. At that moment I felt very odd about what had just happened and got the signal to be more aware and keep a certain distance so that would not happen again, as the abruptness left me feeling strange.
We finally made it to the styling area and she began telling me how great her evening had gone and spoke of the endless compliments that continued through the evening. Her husband loved what I had done and all the women wanted to know who did all the hair changes. For those brief moments I had forgotten what had transpired a few minutes earlier. All that changed quickly when her elbow seemed to find its way into my crotch as I stood on the side of her combing out her hair. At first I thought that it was an accident and swiftly realized after another slight push that it was no accident. I knew instinctively to not react as if I felt her motions, so I moved myself to the back of the chair as if nothing had happened. I could hardly stay focused on her talking as I was trying to not appear disturbed by what she had done. It was very clear to me that I needed to say behind the chair so that would not happen again.
As I recall the whole incident I can still remember how unprepared I was for such blatant physical contact. I struggled to stay up on her conversation, and lucky for me it was only a thirty minute styling appointment, as the countdown to have her leave was my priority. On four more occasions on that visit, she tried to do more physical contact and I intercepted quickly and avoided all her other tries. It was becoming clear to me that I had a cougar on the prowl and I needed to cage it before it got out of control. However that was not to be and would only be the beginning of trouble for her as well as myself. As she paid her bill that afternoon I kept myself behind the desk so that I would not receive any further contact but she continued to insist that she wanted a hug to say goodbye. At this point, I began to feel a little panic, when my next client walked in and saved me from another physical confrontation. As she walked out the door she made it very clear that she would be returning soon and that I owed her a hug. I felt powerless and began to fret over the fact that she would show up again. How long it would be, I had absolutely no idea at that moment but would find out soon enough.
It was only a couple of days later that she showed up at my home. I had stepped out the door and was locking it when I turned around and saw her heading up the walkway. In a state of complete shock, my first thought was to run but my legs did not obey and so I just pretended to be nice and ask how she found out where I lived, upon which she replied that she found my address in the phone book. She said she wanted to surprise me, and having brought an expensive bottle of Scotch, wanted to have a drink with me. I firmly told her that I was due at another function that I was almost late for and needed to be on my way, but that went in one ear and out the other. She replied that she came all this way and that I should take the time and share one drink with her. Panic ensued and I vehemently told her that I did not like Scotch and would not be able to stay. She reached for my arm and grazed it as I pulled myself back in the nick of time. I played it off as if I did not see her reaching for me and just hurried to my car and told I really had to go and that she should not stop by without calling as I usually am quite busy with my free time.
I left her standing there as I drove out of the driveway trying to remember where I was headed. The whole scene had completely jumbled my thought process and my panic had yet to subside. It could not have been more than five minutes later when I noticed her car in my rear view mirror following me. By now my anxiety level was high and my heart was pounding so hard I could hear it in my ears. How to lose her was my only train of thought, but how to do it had yet to be determined. I had to think fast and decided to take the bridge over to Tampa and hopefully she would not follow. I had angels watching out for me that day as she turned off when she realized I was leaving the city. Across the bridge I drove and turned around at the other end and drove back into town to finish what I had set off to do before my unwanted guest arrived. I was completely unnerved and could hardly keep my focus on what I needed to do that day.
I arrived back home later that day and feared that she would return and was happy that did not occur. It was all I could do to keep my mind active and stop anticipating that she would come around again. The weekend ended and I returned back to work the next week and was not surprised to hear her voice on the phone wanting another appointment. After four tries of explaining to her that I had no availability she gave in and asked me to call her if there were any cancellations that week. I did not tell her I would call I just stayed silent when she asked me to call her. The week was wonderfully uneventful and I thought I was out of the woods, but she appeared at the salon in a very agitated state and insisted that I do her hair. She was not going to take no for an answer and I did not want a scene in the salon so I worked her in at a time that I would not have to be alone with her, and stated very clear that it was the only time that I had available. She turned around and let me know that she was not happy with the time but it would have to do. Having witnesses helped me tremendously as I would not be the only one to see such a display of an angry personality. Everyone readily agreed that something was amiss with her and that I had better stay clear of any more appointments with her. There was no disagreement there, but how would I stop her, that was going to be the problem.
She did not arrive for that appointment that day and I was elated and felt happy that perhaps she would not return. The joy of youth is the innocence, and I was beginning to feel that becoming the adult did have its disadvantages like my recent adult situation that would need to be dealt with. Clueless and still a teen, I did not have the knowledge or the grace to deal with a woman who had her eyes set on me, personally, and who was suffering from a mental disorder that no one had recognized yet. I would not be alone in this situation. So much more was transpiring at her home front that I was not privy to yet. That information was soon to be revealed in another obtuse unscheduled meeting. It would be at that meeting that I would shed the last of my teenage naiveté.
Less than a week later, when I once again began to feel that she was gone, she reappeared at my home. I opened the door and she asked to come in and I told her directly NO! Asking the question of why not, I did not hold back and told her that it was not appropriate and that she was married and did not need to be coming over to my home. Did she not realize that I was gay or did I mislead her in any way? Those were just some of the questions that ran through my head as she explained that she left her husband after telling him that she was in love with me. Completely taken aback and dumbfounded, I unleashed a mountain of anger that took her by surprise. Hurling sentences and explanations at her did not seem to faze her. It was as if she was on another planet and did not hear a single thing I said to her. She told me she had nowhere to go and that she wanted to stay with me. I physically shook her and told her to listen to me, she was not welcome here, I was not in love with her and that she was making all this up in her head. It was obvious to me that I had to leave before any further action was taken by either of us.
I quickly turned away from her and made a beeline to the car leaving her standing there. I drove off with no particular direction, I just knew that I needed to be gone a while so that she would realize how absurd this whole situation was and find her way to somewhere else and hopefully to the room of a psychiatrist whole could put the pieces of here jumbled mind back together so that she could get a grip on reality.
I kept myself away for over five hours and reluctantly headed back home with the fear that she would still be there. Much to my happiness she was not, but it did not dispel my trepidation that she would show up later that evening. I decided to hide my car a few blocks away so that she would not see it parked outside if she decided to return again. Luckily nothing transpired that night and but I kept my guard up all night expecting the worst.
I arrived at work the next day hoping there would not be a message from her that she may have left wanting an appointment. No messages appeared from her that day so I began my day in a positive way.
I had just checked out my client and was about to go for lunch when a very handsome man and an older woman opened the door and came into the salon. I did not recognize them as regular clients so I greeted them and asked if I could help them. He asked for me by name and I told him that he was speaking to me and he asked if we could go somewhere and talk. Fear spread through me like a volcanic eruption and I aggressively asked who he was and what he wanted from me. At that moment the older woman got up and said it was about “Jackie”. At that moment I realized he was Jackie’s husband and the lady was her Mother.
We went back to the back break room and he unfolded a story that made my heart melt. Her mother asked me in no uncertain terms if I had been having an affair with her daughter, to which I readily replied absolutely not. My answer coincided with her fear that her daughter had made up the story and she told me that she believed me and was sorry that she had to ask the question in the first place. At that point Jackie’s husband poured out a scenario that could have been a Hollywood screen play. He spoke of her disoriented mood swings and her anger of having to take care of their baby. He began to take responsibility for being absent so much from their relationship that he did not see her splitting apart from reality. He went on to tell me that she had left him the day she showed up on my doorstep and returned later that day in fury which culminated into fight that ended up with her being taken away to a hospital for extreme mental breakdown. They both apologized continually for my being brought into the situation and wanted to assure me that she would not be coming around anymore and that she would be getting the mental treatment that she needed to get well. While I breathed a silent breath of relief I could feel the immense sadness that emanated from both of them. I readily assured them that it was not their fault and that she was obviously not aware of what was happening to her and I was very sorry to hear of her dilemma but was very happy to hear that she was getting the help that was needed.
We parted ways and they told me that they would update me on her progress and said they were very appreciative of my understanding the situation. When they drove off I could feel the weight of the whole experience drop off my shoulders and looked forward to not having to deal with it anymore.
About eight months later I was sitting in the back having my lunch when I was told that there were some people upfront asking for me and I assumed that they were clients but as I walked toward the reception area I could see Jackie and her husband and Mother. A little unnerved, I approached them and said hello. Nervously Jackie stood up and began an apology that brought tears to my eyes. She spoke of her problem and had been told by her doctor that she should make amends to everyone that had been involved during her mental breakdown. He felt it would help her recovery and make her understand what she had put people through. The woman who stood before me was not the same person I met on that desperate day of hair renovations. She was soft spoken and calm and very focused on her apology. I sat there transfixed on the metamorphosis that had taken place within her.
All three people were kind and very sympathetic in making sure I had received the apology that was deserved. I told them that it had been my first experience with anything like this and it would make me very aware if it should ever occur again. I graciously expressed my joy in seeing the change in Jackie and thanked them for coming by to put a final end to the story.
My experiences with this kind of behavior have come up a couple of times in my career. I recognized it early and made it my goal to always inform the family members of an impending downfall if something was not done quickly. At the time of that first situation, there had not been a confirmed diagnosis for mothers who rejected their babies after giving birth. Now we know of post-partum depression as something that affects a lot of women. It sneaks up on them unknowingly and transforms them into people that are almost unrecognizable brought on by their depressive behavior.
I have helped several people recognize the road they were heading down and saw them struggle to get the help they needed. I am happy to report that all survived the mental anguish brought on by the hormonal chaos within their bodies. After analyzing that first situation I have a much clearer understanding of what I should have done first, but my youth did not have the grasp on the truth that was unveiling before me at that time.
I did not have any further contact with her so I have no complete ending on how it all worked out for her. I can only hope that she moved through her ordeal with the success that I saw with the other people that received help. The immense amount of information that I learned from her would be paid forward to help others in the same situation. So I would have to say that something good did come from that experience. In the end it was having a heart that really mattered as I learned compassion and an awareness that would be with me for the rest of my life.