A Hairy Journey

“You look free…”   That was in reference to my new hair style.  But it wasn’t really a hair style change.  It was a life alteration.  I’d had dreadlocks since 1999.  It was me embracing myself as a black woman and all that it entails, including loving your hair the way God created it.  Even in that I wasn’t being authentic (I can see that now).  My hair, which I always wanted to be nappy, was/is not the texture that people think about when they hear the word nappy.  I wanted my hair to be nappy, and the only way I could really get it to look nappy was with dreadlocks.  In the beginning it was the outward statement of my “black woman-ness”, but as my waistline went from concave to convex I began to use my hair as a shield.    When your hair is down to your butt and you can do all kinds of crazy twirly twisty interesting things with it people tend to notice your hair and not you.  I was living in layers.  The layers of fat had become insufficient to insulate me from the world so I added to that layers of hair.  I didn’t want to be vulnerable.  Vulnerability was for the birds, and I’d already lived that nightmare on too many levels.  So I hid myself behind layers of fat and feet of hair and whoever those two couldn’t keep at a distance I ran through with my rapier wit and sharp tongue.  Yes my mouth can be used as a weapon.  It’s kinda funny that my greatest gift (words and the power to wield them) can also be my most dangerous weapon if aimed at others.  I turned fifty last year and a part of the process of becoming fully adult is self-examination.  I had come into my own or so I wanted to believe.  The only way you can come into your own is through authenticity.  I said that often.  When you have command of the English language you can really talk a good game.  I can convince and cajole and canoodle people into believing that the subterfuge that I verbally throw out into the world is coming from the deepest part of me, when in fact, it is contrived and concocted to deflect a look into the deep recesses of doubt that only I know about.  Trust and believe that not many people know that seventy-five percent of me is false bravado, piss and vinegar.  Even when I tell them they don’t believe me.  I got tired of looking into the mirror and not looking into my own eyes.  So I decided to stop hiding.  First from myself.  I tried this before, just before my oldest daughter got married.  I cut my hair and thought I would live in the world authentically, but I wasn’t ready.  I went back to my locks and before you knew it I was in hiding again.  This time  I didn’t cut, but combed out.  It took six days.  Six days of combing and snatching and jerking out self-doubt , fear and anger, loathing and low self-esteem, even self-pity.  You see, hair sheds, it’s natural, but when you have locks, you hair doesn’t shed.  I was walking around with years worth of my emotional history matted into my hair, never having been allowed to just fall away and be replaced with something new.  This was far more than the natural progression of hair but was a metaphor for my inner self, my mind, my spirit.  I was weighted down by the past and the chemical residue of the sadness and pain it had left behind.  So I picked and pulled and struggled for six days and as the past along with a bag full of broken strands fell away, I found my authentic self.  I felt lighter not just physically but emotionally, spiritually.  I felt like I was weightless and that I could float away.  I felt brand new.  I got many compliments, and I was told that I look younger (well if I’d known it would make me look younger I would’ve done it a long time ago).  What has happened to me in the  2 weeks since I have combed out my dreadlocks is that I’ve accepted that my hair is as nappy as it is supposed to be.  Nappy is a concept for me.  My nappiness may not be in my hair but it’s in my soul.  Just because the irish in my DNA makes my naps a little straighter doesn’t diminish my “black woman-ness”.  I’ve realized that it’s probably an exercise in futility to  fight the DNA that makes my behind round and my midsection convex instead of concave.  That doesn’t mean that I have to be unhealthy, but it does mean that if I want to be healthy and happy, I have to be realistic.  I’m not gonna ever be a size 3 again, and that’s okay.  I will simply celebrate myself, and acknowledge that I am a unique, specially hand-crafted gift to the world from the awesome Creator who placed in me some things that simply cannot be found in anybody else.  And so are you.  My friend was right. I am free…


~ by Diva2de on March 6, 2014.

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