Hair is a place to hide.

When I was younger, if someone had told me I wrapped a large part of who I thought I was into my hair, I would have scoffed. The realization of this very truth came to me around my 46th year of life as the dance of coloring my locks to hide the gray became part of a bi-monthly routine. Fast forward to my 48th year, and I would start to reach out to a community of women that had let it all go for the gray.

As part of the letting go process, I started seeking information from communities of women who were on the journey to gray (and/or on the other side of it) and talking with my partner to make sure my desirability scale didn’t drop more than 10 points (smiles). Six months into all of this, I called my longtime friend and hairdresser to schedule an appointment to chop off all of my hair; I decided if I was going to let go, it had to be all at once. Growing it out wasn’t “Lexy style”.

In the week between my decision and the actual appointment, I experienced waves of grief.

I scoured old photos and admired the mane of hair I now knew was also my hiding place. This sparked some very big questions for me:

  • What was I hiding, why was I hiding it/me?
  • What was the fear of letting go of this version of myself?
  • Was it me after all?
  • Could all of this come up from hair?

My whole life I heard how beautiful my hair was. My hair (depending on style) dictated much of my life. For example, if it was raining, going out with curly hair usually didn’t result in a “pretty” result. At a young age, my dad would be all up in my in stuff for leaving with a wet head in the coldest of winters, all for the hair. Not to mention, if I spend an hour straightening it, there’s a long list of things I will and won’t do, all for the hair. This doesn’t even take into account the cost in dollars and time I spent “covering” the gray, aka upkeeping my hiding place. When I started to take this inventory, my hair started to feel more and more like a strait jacket. I remember feeling the weight of my hair in a literal way I never had before.

I sat in the salon chair, taking in the moment.

It was mid-morning and the salon was full. I let myself experience the very strong beat of my heart, the little voice in my head that didn’t want to lose its hiding place, and a version of me that was ready, brave, and a bit excited. The sound of the scissors making their first deep cut, then watching seven inches of hair hit the floor, was exhilarating – it was the point of no return! My chair was turned away from the mirror so I couldn’t see what was unfolding. I was nervous and looking forward to seeing myself in a new way.

When the task was complete, my stylist turned me toward the mirror. When I looked up at my reflection, it was like meeting an old friend. My head felt light; there was nothing to play with – just my face, my ears (I had never really noticed them), and me. In some ways it was a coming home… and the new earrings helped (smiles).

I will share more of this story as it continues to unfold. Here are some pictures to help with the visual of my hair hiding places over the years. Where do you hide? I have several places, hair is just no longer one of them.

Soul to Soul,

Lex