Of the countless things she did to me and others over the 4 years I was under her rule, one stands out over and above them all. It happened when I was in the eighth grade.
In the 50’s the popular hair style was a pony tail. My hair went to my waist, and I loved to wear it in a pony tail. I liked to walk so it would sway back and forth with each step. The day students all seemed to wear them but BM hated pony tails. She said: “the only time you should wear a pony tail is when you tie your hair up to take a bath”. So, she always made me wear my hair down…and she hated that too. One day, she asked me (all nice and sweet) if I would please let her “fix” my hair. I was picturing ringlets or something equally as stupid, and in an adventurous state, I said: – “sure”! (I should have suspected something was not right for the mere fact she was actually talking nice to me).
She told me to wash my hair, comb it out and sit down in a chair by the sinks. So, I did. As I sat in the chair, she stood behind me and started combing my hair. Then, she took a hold of it with one hand, and I heard this awful sound of scissors cutting! She had grabbed my hair right at the nape of my neck, and she cut it off with one grinding snip!
My long hair was cut off! This amounted to about 16 inches of hair that had taken me years to grow. My hair was my best feature. I wasn’t pretty and I was overweight, but I had nice hair and I loved having it long. My hair is fine and when it was long, it was straight. After she cut it I found out I have naturally curly hair. I started screaming and crying hysterically!
She then proceeded to call over the other 50 or so boarders. She said to them: “look at her carrying on like this, when she TOLD me I could cut her hair! She is trying to lie and make a scene and deny that she told me I could cut it!” Not only was I campused for two weeks after that, but that night she made me sit on my chair by my bed, all night long, for telling “lies”. She was supposed to come to me and let me get into bed after an hour or two, but evidently she either fell asleep herself, or she forgot about me. I was too scared to get up off of the chair and get into bed on my own, so I sat there until she came to wake everyone the next morning. I could tell by the look on her face that she was surprised that I was still sitting in my chair, but she didn’t apologize. All of the girls were appalled.
The next day, everyone was forbidden to talk to me - and me to them. My hair looked so awful that it was hard for the other girls to look at me without laughing. It was not anything like a professional haircut. She had cut it at the base of my skull, above my neckline. I – literally – wanted to die. This is the first time I seriously considered suicide. I was 13. To be honest, the entire four years at Holy Names Academy, I wished I would die.
There were three bathtubs at the far end of the dormitory. Each one was in an enclosed cubicle and had a door with a sliding lock on it. One cubicle had a window to the outside. It was five stories up. When it was my turn to take a bath, I chose the bathtub with the window. I opened the window & climbed out onto the ledge. It was made of cement and was about one foot wide. It was dark outside. I stayed there, too afraid to jump, until my time was up for taking a bath (10 minutes) and she came looking for me. She pounded on the door. I climbed back inside and closed the window. No one ever knew I did that. It wasn’t until many years later that I told my brother & sister. The only other person I ever told was a Psychiatrist when I was in my late 20’s.
To this day, I have never been able to wear my hair cut short. I tried it once. After years of bleaching my hair a Platinum Blonde color, I decided to grow it out back to my natural color. I needed to cut off much of the blonde as it grew it out because my hair was quite damaged. Like a phobia, the feeling of short hair swept over me and brought back the feelings I experienced after BM cut my hair. I vowed to never cut it short again. Also, I wear my hair in a pony tail style almost every day.