“So, I’m growing out my hair, and it’s frustrating”.
This isn’t news to anyone who has chopped off their locks and suffered through the agonizing stages of re-growth. Search YouTube for “growing out your pixie cut”. There’s some interesting stuff out there. Definitely a sort of “hair club” for women just in a different way. But as i was looking in the mirror today and groaning at the very “mom-style” look that was going on in there, it occurred to me that this wouldn’t last. And I started to hear the Holy Spirit remind me that this ugly spiritual season in my life wouldn’t last either.
In the emotion-wracked year of 2014, I turned 40. Alone. Very alone. I cannot exaggerate the aloneness. I had my children in another state … but your kids don’t really count. It’s YOUR job to love and care for them. Admittedly, I had already leaned on them too much and I knew it. So i stopped. Or tried to. Anyway, like I said, your kids don’t count. All grandparents gone. Parents disowned me. Ex-spouse, well, ex-spoused. Friends, let’s just say, no one was in my life at the moment. I worked as a freelancer from home – all day every day. No pets. I did have my neighbors, and THEIR puppies whom I adore, and they treated me lovely. I’m grateful for them.
So there’s the picture. It wasn’t pretty. I wallowed. a lot. I cried pretty much all the time. I wasn’t making enough, and I barely had the energy to face each day let alone make a living. So I was spiraling down, and I knew it. I understand how sticky the pit of despair can be. I was starting to get afraid – like where do they put people who give up on life? I was hoping for a hospital or institute, but sadly, the stark reality was the streets. I went for walks and scoped out decent sleeping spots near where I lived. There was one drain I was sure I could do quite nicely in if I didn’t get caught.
So the climb out is something that I’m willing to talk about because I now know it can be done, and there are a lot of people in that pit. I know. I met them. They were there and couldn’t find their way out much less help me. Only those annoying people who make it out have the answers – though U can tell you, it’s hard to hear when you’re in it. You don’t believe anyone really understands how incapable you really are.
Anyway, back to my hair. So one of my steps to empowerment – or rebellion or a big ‘fuck you’ to the weight that was killing me or whatever – was to shave off all my hair. Dude, this was a big deal. I mean. I grew up with a hairdresser for a mother. One did not color one’s own hair, cut one’s own hair. Not to mention, we were pretty conservative, and despite my MOUTH which frequently writes checks my confidence can’t cash, I’m pretty UNrisky. Don’t tell this to the group of catholic girls I grew up with who believed I was a badass because I would daringly climb up on the roof of a shed to spy on one of our neighbors who we were sure was running a den of iniquity, but I digress. My HAIR WAS REALLY LONG! Here’s a picture of it right before cutting it.
Oh my god, look how cute i was? there are definitely times I wonder what the heck I was thinking.
Well, here’s what I was thinking:
I wanted to be brave. I didn’t want to be afraid of this. And I was afraid. I was afraid of more change, afraid of feeling un-feminine, afraid of ruining myself. So I went into the bathroom and started with and undershave, cuz that’s cool. It wasn’t. I just kept going… and going until it was buzzed down to practically nothing.
And you know what? It did feel good. I discovered I liked the shape of my head, and I didn’t feel butch at all. If anything I felt more feminine. I felt brave. But I also discovered something else. My hair was not my enemy. I liked my long hair better. It was more “me” and cutting it was just an unknown, not an answer.
What it was like with super short hair
Contrary to what I expected, I did not worry about being taken for a lesbian or something. I was once asked by a stranger on the DART bus whether I was “bi” or not, which I thought was a strange question. I mean, who asks that? I figure I did not give off the “lesbian vibe” (which is a spirit, by the way, so that explains that), but I was just too cute not to ask. That’s my story, anyway. I got less catcalls and “gurll, you fine” looks, so that was good. I sort of disappeared, and that was a welcome development. It was WAY easy to deal with. No blow dryer or hair products needed. I wasn’t going anywhere at the time – was still primarily working from home – so I was pretty comfortable. My hair had grown out to a cute pixie by the time I ended up applying for a “job” outside my home. I felt weird for two minutes about that. I colored it (sort of) once, with red Koolaid powder. Then I sort of undercut it with my trusty clippers. That was kind of fun. But in the end, I started missing my long hair more and more. So, I stopped grooming myself within centimeters and let it go.
As I’ve been growing it out – a slow process for a woman of my age – it has looked alternately cute, dumpy, frumpy, matronly, “like my mother”, wild, fun, and shapeless. Some days I feel it. Some days I don’t. And seriously, it’s taking FOREVER!
I’m growing it out.
I’m caring for it, and trying to help it along because I’m impatient to be “me” again. When I realized this, I realized that this was a spiritual journey as well. I’m growing my hair out. I stripped myself of everything that defined me, and now I’m redefining what makes me look like me. What is my strength? I have some clues, but it is a process, one I’d like to help along because I’m impatient. The thing with journeys, though, is that they take as long as they take. Just like growing out your hair, you can’t rush it.
I look forward to who I am with long hair, just as I look forward to who God molds me to be at the end of this specific journey.
This hair-growth journey is a metaphor for what’s going on spiritually.
How do I handle each stage? How is patience important? How committed am I to the end goal? Do I see myself with long hair, have a vision for it, even when it looks and feels like it will never happen? Will I be tempted to “forget it” and just go back to what’s easy, manageable? Will I embrace each inch? Will I invest in this goal, forfeiting how I feel today for what I will gain later? All of these questions apply spiritually as well.
I don’t regret cutting it. I’m not Samson, giving up his strength for a lover. And yet, I think about him. I think about his path in growing his hair back out. How much it meant. I wonder if there is a lesson in there somewhere for me … and for others. And I know there is.
So I’m growing my hair out, not because I hate where I’m at, but because I have a vision for what is ahead. And it’s frustrating. But I won’t give up.
For your entertainment, here is a pretty cool link to how we might imagine Disney princesses with short hair.