I have short hair.
It’s by default.
Because it’s thin, fine, and wispy and grows at a snail’s pace
I have yearned for long hair since I was 11 years old and ogled my classmate Kathleen’s long thick locks.
I imagined myself wearing a wig – it was the only way I could see myself having the experience of long hair.
I got a perm at that age to try and help solve this hair dilemma.
But the stylist left me under the heat too long.
I emerged from the salon with a fried and frizzy mess on top of my head.
I was devastated
The kids at school made fun of me, saying I had an afro.
At 14, I started wearing all black and grew out my hair to my shoulders.
I wore my bangs over one eye like a skater
I kept it that way through my druggie teenage days as a pothead.
When I got sober at 22, I made a friend in AA who wore her hair very short.
I asked her what she did, and she said the stylist used a #2 razor guard on it
I came home from the salon resembling Sinead O’Connor – my hair was almost buzzed.
It was too short
Finally, I found the sweet spot between not-too-short, and not-too-long, but just right
I’ve rocked this same style for basically 25 years now.
It works for me
But I did have to settle and give up on the dream of long, shiny locks reminiscent of fairy tales
Not only was my hair best kept short, I also had to rely on product to give it life- hair wax or gel was necessary for it to have any personality.
Until almost ten years ago, when I had a hair-wakening that changed my life forever
I stumbled upon a blog by a girl who had quit shampooing and discovered that shampooing was the cause of her hair woes.
She called it going No-Poo.
I was sold on the name alone
The author explained that shampooing, especially with conventional products, creates a deficit of natural oils on the scalp and hair, which then makes the scalp overproduce oil to compensate and leads to a never-ending cycle of shampooing.
This was a huge aha for me
Because, along with my hair being thin and limp, it was also so oily that I had to wash it every 24 hours or the oil would visibly weigh it down and make it look mucky and yucky
Her theory made sense, so I decided to quit shampoo and see what happened.
First, I switched from my normal shampoo to a baking soda paste.
Next, I applied diluted apple cider vinegar to my hair, which acted as a conditioner.
Gradually I started washing my hair less and less as the blog instructed.
She warned that there would be a period of detox when the scalp would overproduce oil as it regulated itself.
My detox period lasted 2 weeks.
During this time, my hair again resembled its old limp and oily state, but I persevered and was soon rewarded with a whole different head of hair
No more was my hair oily, thin, limp and lifeless
My hair’s natural oils gave it the body and shine that I had previously relied on products for
I no longer needed anything on my hair
And now, when I showered, I simply used water like I used to use shampoo
I know what you’re thinking:
Does it smell?
Does it look bad?
It looks and feels the best it’s ever been:
Shiny, full of body, life and personality.
Just like me! Haha
I didn’t know my hair could be like this.
It’s like a hair rebirth, almost a hair miracle
For the first time in my life, I loved my hair!
And now 8 years later, I still do.
I would never go back to shampooing
Recently, I was in a toxic relationship with someone who tore down everything about me that he didn’t like.
Which was everything.
He didn’t like my short hair, and he didn’t like me not using shampoo
And I got to a point in the depths of the abuse where I actually used shampoo to please him.
And agreed to grow out my hair for him as well.
The level of self-betrayal and abandonment I witnessed in myself, the lengths I went to to try and make him happy, tornadoed me into a shame spiral that felt like a black hole
My routine with my hair, my relationship with not shampooing, had been so damn important to me
And yet I totally abandoned myself to try and make him happy.
One day, he told me he never touched my hair because I didn’t shampoo it.
He said that it was gross and dirty and smelled bad
He even went to the dramatic lengths of taking me to his friend’s salon, and washing and styling my hair himself.
I hate my hair after it’s shampooed
It’s completely lifeless- which is a scarily accurate analogy for what I became at the depths of despair in this relationship
My hair lost its life,
It became limp,
it lacked personality and life, and was totally flat.
Just like me
I reverted to living in survival every day- most moments consumed with fear, worry, and stress
And of course, MASSIVE amounts of Imposter Syndrome and self-judgment around my own self-concept of who I am, what I stand for and represent in the world as a coach, mentor, and recovery sponsor.
My now routinely shampooed limp and lifeless hair was just an outward symbol of my inner state
Thank god for rescue in the form of an opportunity on another island that took me away just as I couldn’t take any more
Now it’s been a few months.
My hair has returned to its body-filled state – and my internal state and way of Being has bounced back as well
And I have surprised myself by continuing to let my hair grow out
I actually have bangs now – for the first time in decades
So I can thank him for these bangs-
A result of both the pain of being discounted, diminished and living out of integrity, as well as my resilience and evolution
What lengths have you gone to to try and please someone?
It could be a boss, parent, or friend, not just a romantic partner.
What declarations can you make to stand in your own integrity and not abandon yourself anymore to try and buy acceptance, love, and support?
I declare to never shampoo my hair again just to please someone
It sounds trite, but the symbolism of self-betrayal is dead serious
For me it was an act of self-abandonment
I will no longer abandon myself when I most need my own support
How about you?
Please let me know if you can relate to this, and know that you are not alone
I am here for you