I shared in this week’s teaching that for as long as I can remember, between the ages of babyhood and about 25, I was very afraid of men with beards and shaggy clothes or blue collar type work clothes. I can’t count the number of times I experienced a scenario like this one I am going to share with you. Picture me walking down an aisle in the grocery store, minding my own business, making my grocery selections and keeping tabs on my calculator. I focus intently on whatever I am doing—so much so that it drives my family crazy sometimes. The whole house could fall down around me while I’m focused on the task at hand and I probably would not skip a beat in what I am working on. In fact, a counselor friend once told me if I had any more dopamine in my brain, I would be psychotic! (He said this tongue-in-cheek….I think!)
So back to my scenario: Picture me focused intently on the task of grocery shopping—something I don’t enjoy anyways—and not noticing anyone around me except to go around them instead of through them as I do my shopping. Then, as if a radar detects danger, I notice a man round the corner with his own buggy, sporting a long beard, long hair and his work clothes from a construction job or something similar. Immediately, and without any provocation, my heart begins beating faster. I sense danger. I feel the intense need to make myself completely invisible to him. I feel panicky. But I have NO idea why. Logic tells me I’m being ridiculous. “Shelley, why are you freaking out? This guy has not done anything to you. Why do you always do this? Are you a bigot towards white men with shaggy hair or guys who work blue collar jobs?”
This issue was so prevalent with me that I did not like it when the men in my life grew mustaches or beards. And I had NO idea why.
Until one day in 1999 when my older brother and I were talking about memories from childhood. This was during the season I was experiencing an unwanted divorce from my first husband. My family members rose to the occasion big time and they all surrounded me with great support. My brother was helping me laugh as we reminisced about days gone by—the way that only siblings can because they go so far back together. At one point he started reminding me of the days when our parents could leave us kids in the car when they ran errands. This is something I never did with my children when they were young, but it was common in the late 70’s and early 80’s. My brother said, “Do you remember when Dad would leave the three of us (my two olders brothers and me) in the car to go into a store or something and you’d start crying for him?” I did not…I do not…remember this. And then he said, “And we would tell you, ‘Shelley, you better be quiet…or the HIPPIES ARE GONNA GETCHA!!”
After all these years and after all the times I had asked my mom if something had happened to me when I was little that would make me experience so much anxiety when I would see men who looked a certain way; after all the confusion and guilt and fear, I finally understood where this all started and why I was affected so strongly.
When the light was shone on this dark place, I experienced immediate release of all of that fear. (And it is a good thing my brother was on the other end of the phone or he might have been on the other end of my fist! Ha ha)
The truth was the truth all along—but until I knew the truth, I couldn’t be free.
And, as a side note, may I just say how thankful I am to have found this out before I met Stephen Hendrix—a man who has had facial hair almost every single day I’ve ever known him. J
- · Have you experienced a situation that this story reminds you of? If so, please share with us in the comments section below.
- · What do you think might have happened if I continued to live without the knowledge about the idea of “hippies” and how the idea was planted in my mind when I was a toddler?