Monday, June 2, 2014

Two Years of Dreads

A few weeks, I was teaching an Intro to Oils class to a group of mostly retired women. As I was chatting about the oils I use to wash my hair, one of the women asked me about my dreads. Unlike most questions I get about how I started them, how I care for them, and how I will be able to get them out, she asked me why I wear dreads.

It was an intriguing question, one I've not been asked before, and I was surprised when the answer came tumbling from my mouth so readily.

Basically, I wear dreads because of my birth trauma. I'm not sure I ever consciously knew that, but when Susan asked me, it was immediately obvious to me. I proceeded to share my story.

A few years before I got pregnant with E, I experimented with dreads, but combed them out after a few weeks of keeping them covered, rolling them with wax, and generally being fed up that they didn't look like dreadlocks.

When E was about five months old, I was still mourning the birth that got stolen from us. I was totally in love with my son, but I was angry and badly wounded. My physical scars were still obvious, and the tax the trauma took on my relationship with DH was starting to become obvious as well (though the full breadth of that wouldn't be known for another two years).

The idea of dreading my hair started to enter my mind again. It certainly wasn't a direct reaction to the birth trauma, but I knew I needed something to occupy my mind, and the journey that is dreadlocks seemed appealing. Dreadlocks would alter my appearance as well, and that was very appealing.

I did a lot of research, determined to do my dreads the right way, the best way. Over and over, I read about the journey of dreadlocks, the constant change, the crazy phases, the looping, shrinking, fuzzing, tightening, and, finally, maturing of dreads.

I started my dreads almost exactly two years ago. A friend sectioned my hair. I gave the dreads a good start by using a salt water spray and putting lots of knots in my hair. (I blogged about starting my dreads here.) Then, I gave myself over to the process. For the first few weeks, they didn't change much. Then, around a month old, I started to notice the knots drawing up, the strands of hair looping and folding. Over the following months and years, I've seen sleek baby dreads, fuzzy dreads, messy ugly dreads, poofy I can't fit my hats on dreads, cannibalistic teenage dreads, Caribbean kissed and tamed dreads, and slowly, the dreads I have today - in various stages of maturation, decorated with yarn, shells, and beads, mostly easy to contain and care for. 

I've always been a low maintenance dread grower. Some people spend hours rolling their dreads into perfect rounds, sewing in loose ends, and encouraging tight roots. My philosophy is - it had to be - let go and allow the maturation to unfold of its own accord. I still have lots of loose hairs. They will join other dreads, or form new ones, when they are ready. (A few months ago, I blogged about a little maintenance I did.)

My dreads have been a lesson in patience, in letting go. By watching them change without much intervention from me, I've learned about letting go of control. I learned that healing will happen on its own time, just like my dreads happen on their own time.

Last year, just as I was celebrating a year of dreadlocks, I was slammed with another trauma. It was hugely challenging, and my reaction was a blend of hurt, anger, and compassion. I reacted much differently than I ever expected, and I like to think that my journey of dreadlocks, my lessons in letting go, helped me survive the storm that rocked my life a year ago.

This week, I will celebrate two years of dreadlocks, and I will survive the anniversary of a traumatic event, the catalyst behind a season in my life that changed me beyond my imagining.

Happy Dready Birthday to me! As for the other anniversary, I'll likely have more to say about that in a few days.

Here they are two years old, freshly washed last night.