More At Peace
As we explore holistic care for our bodies, we are often forced to grapple with those parts of ourselves that are connected to damaging messages of comparison or stories of shame. Here, Becky Allender shares about an unintentional experiment with blue hair, and about learning to come to peace with the fullness of who she is. This post originally appeared on Red Tent Living.
I will always be perplexed as to why hair is so deeply tied to our identity. I also wonder why haircuts, new coloring, or any significant change throws me back to Junior High. I am my body. I am more than my body. But my hair sometimes seems more than me.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and as much as I tried to focus on the conversation with the woman getting her hair cut next to me, I realized I actually needed to name the trauma I was experiencing. I was two hours into the process and noticed two texts from my husband wanting to know where I was.
What should I reply? Something like, “Hey, I will be home in another hour.” Or, “It’s taking longer than I thought.” But instead of texting my husband, I looked at Shawn in the mirror and said, “I think I am going to have to go home and have a glass of wine!” I kept looking at my reflection, and even though my hair was still wet, it looked blue. Next thing I knew there was a lovely tumbler of red wine in front of me. It never occurred to me that this salon would even have wine! If there was any time to drink at a hair salon, this was it. It wasn’t yet noon and I could barely breathe. I gratefully took a sip.
Another hour went by and I began the drive home while taking sneak peeks at the top of my hair in the rearview mirror. Thankfully, that looked the same, but truly, whenever I looked at the ends of my hair I had to admit that it was a bit blue!
One thing age has allowed me to realize is that most people don’t even see change—let alone say anything.
My daughter-in-law and husband were appropriately shocked when I walked into the house. I looked in the hallway mirror and I did have blue hair! Elizabeth assured me the products that I was sent home with would do the very thing I hoped it would do, help tone down the blue. But, I wasn’t supposed to wash my hair for a week. Seriously, what had I done?!
I sneaked away and called Jane from my closet chair. “Guess what? I dyed the yellow ends of my hair. I have gray hair, Jane.” Without a missed beat, she replied nonchalantly, “Well, Beck, if you don’t really like it, you can dye it back.” Truth. I love the truth from Jane. That’s right. I can. In my mind I saw dollar signs and failure.
A few hours later I stiffly said to Dan, “I am freaking out with this blue hair!” He looked at me and said, “Becky, you cannot continue this when we are with our family.” (The next day our entire family was gathering at Finn River to celebrate our three August birthdays.) He was right. I went to bed with my blue-ish hair and slept really well.
One by one, everyone showed up for outdoor jazz listening and cider sipping in the heat of summer near Port Gamble. Initially, no one noticed. In keeping with Dan’s true style, he loved saying, “Do you notice anything different about Becky?” I was extremely comforted by the fact no one did notice—at least, not initially. And yes, I assured them, I knew there was indeed “a bit of blue goin’ on.”
I went to my yoga studio. No one noticed. I went sailing with good friends and piled my hair dutifully on top of my head when we went swimming in the deep waters of the Gulf Islands. Hilarity is so much better than shame. And truly, who cares about anything while sailing with friends in some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen?
Now the blue truly is gone. The hope of blending the ends with my roots has happened. And it all seems wonderful. I love not having teenage long hair with an estrogen-free face. I have wrinkles and flabby skin. My skin is not at all like it used to be. I am at peace with that. I am more at peace with me than ever before. I am less inclined to wear make-up than ever before. It just doesn’t matter. Truly. I am more at peace with my failings. I am more aware of joy than ever. And, I am thrilled to be alive in this #MeToo era. There’s much ground to take back. And as far as I can see, the road ahead is shorter than ever before, and I want to enjoy every bit of joy there is to be had. The holiness of life and each life is becoming more stunning. I am grateful.