An Ode to Dreadlocks

I wanted dreadlocks on/off for over a decade…But I was scared of what others might think or what messages having dreadlocks might convey about me. I worried I would be viewed as A Dirty. Uneducated. Pothead. Hippie.
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Then a close family friend died in a very sudden, unexpected and brutal way. His death was very jolting. It made me realize that NOW is the time to live life. To do things I want to do, whatever they may be. To feel free to be me. To let go of fears/doubts. To live authentically and consciously. Dreadlocks symbolized much of that to me. So….
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Jonny is the 3rd from the left. The baldy babe looking right at the camera.
I watched a few youtube videos on how to dreadlock my hair type. It seemed easy enough to do myself. I enlisted the help of my hubby and for several days we worked on sectioning, backcombing, and palm rolling my hair.
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Day 1 putting them in
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Day 3 putting them in
My hair didn’t lock up very easy. For pretty much the first year, it looked like a crazy mess of tangles and not at all like dreads. I was pretty self-conscious at how nappy my baby dreads were. I usually wore a bandana or head wrap in public. There were several times I thought about combing them out. Although I kept reading/hearing over and over again how important it is to be patient in the process. It truly was a lesson in trust. And in letting go. At about the year mark I started to see actual dreadlocks taking shape. I still remember the first time I went out in public with my hair uncovered. I felt a sense of liberation.

 

two weeks old
two weeks old

 

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8ish month old dreads
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10ish month old dreadlock selfie
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One year old!
2 year old dreads
2 year old dreads
 In time I became really comfortable with my dreads. Most of the time I didn’t think much about my head of locks until someone would make mention of them. Which happened frequently. And much to my surprise I would get compliments on them. From total strangers; even a time or two someone randomly yelling out their car window “I like your hair”. These positive encounters allowed me to discover that there is more openness in the universe than what I perceived there to be. All the judgment and stereotyping I had braced myself for dissipated. And maybe those things did exist behind my back or in quiet corners, but I never felt them. And that’s more powerful.
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 Once my dreads were mature, the maintenance was fairly easy and I enjoyed having them. Until I didn’t. They were long. And heavy. And would stay wet for hours…sometimes even days after washing. Sleeping on them was uncomfortable. My youngest son was always tugging on them. I missed having my head rubbed. I missed combing my hair. I missed snuggling close to my hubby without a huge mess of hair to deal with.
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I was ready for a change. But then suddenly the roles had been reversed. I was now scared to be the girl without dreads. They had become such a part of my identity. I didn’t know how I would feel without them. But I knew change was brewing and I would be parting with them soon enough. I just needed something to nudge me…
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Malachi's first birthday
Malachi’s first birthday
On Buzz’s 37 birthday I got mastitis. It’s a wicked breast infection that is painful, causes fever/chills, and overall you just feel awful when you have it. I had planned a nice dinner and birthday celebration for Buzz, but instead I was lying in bed wrapped up in 3 down comforters, heat on high, while my body shook uncontrollably. I felt horrible.
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And it was as though something inside me clicked and I called for Buzz.
“Will you cut my hair?”
I’m pretty sure his reply was “Ummm, hell no”.
“Please?!?” I begged him.
He continued to resist. And I get it. I sounded crazy. I looked ridiculous. But I was adamant I wanted my dreads cut off that night. So I called for my oldest son Jeremiah and asked him to get me the scissors. When Buzz saw Jeremiah bringing me the scissors, he intervened and said: “You barely have the energy to sit up right now. How are you going to cut your hair?”
Me: “I want you to do it. You put them in. I want you to be the one to take them out.”
Him: “Let’s wait until the morning. If you still feel the same way, I will cut them then”.
Me: “Buzz. 37 years ago you were born. And you are my favorite person in the universe. I wanted to cut my dreads out on a special occasion and for a special reason. I feel like today is that day. I feel stuck. On the brink of change but there is something I am holding onto. And I’m pretty sure that is being manifested in physical symptoms right now (ie- mastitis/clogged ducts). Please cut my hair”.
Buzz and I at 16 years old
Buzz and I at 16 years old
He got it. And agreed. So I sat up in the bed. He sat behind me. And one by one a pile of dreads grew on the bed next to me. Instead of wanting to look in the mirror, I just really wanted to look at the pile of hair that used to be attached to my head. It was an odd perspective.
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I rubbed my scalp. I nursed Malachi. I drank some tea. And then I decided to look in the mirror. And when I did, I smiled. Not because my hair looked good. It actually looked like shit. BUT I felt at peace. I was happy with the decision.
2 days after we cut it
2 days after we cut it
Over the next two days I combed out the remaining dreaded parts…pleased to discover I had a bit more length left than I thought I would. I went to a salon to get a real haircut and color/highlights. The woman who did my hair was incredible. She really treated me with a lot of TLC and made the experience feel special to me. I am forever grateful for her pampering touch.
Freshly cut and styled
Freshly cut and styled
 “Your hair made a statement before. And now it’s up to you to make your own”.
She really made me think. What statement and impact do I want to have?
And while I can’t say with 100% certainty that I will re-dread my hair in the future, my current thought is that in about a year or so I will start the process over again. Ideally I will start with shorter hair and separate my hair into thinner sections. But for now I am enjoying the rejuvenated feeling that comes from change.

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