Updated: Mar 21
I've always loved my long blonde hair. For as long as I can remember, my hair has been healthy, vibrant, and versatile. I can curl it, throw it up in a bun, braid it, or straighten it. I can dress it up or dress it down and whenever I step into a salon, I am told how healthy my hair is. My hair is an important part of who I am.
Since moving to Jakarta, my hair hasn't been the same. I am not sure if it's the water, the air quality, or the types of products my hairdresser has been using, but it hasn't been healthy. I trim what needs to be trimmed, but I can never get it as healthy as it was in its glory days in the U.S. At one point I thought I had to back to its vivacious self, only to have it start breaking off. That's right - my hair started breaking off.
You can imagine my panic. I started deep conditioning, not using heat, I stopped using products and stop putting highlights in. I held on to it as long as long as I could until the breakage was so visible, and I could no longer hide it. Even though I was careful, I had no choice but to cut what was left of the unhealthy parts off.
I trusted my sweet husband with the task (don't worry - he has excellent hair cutting and styling skills. If having three daughters has taught him anything, it's that!). I was ready to get rid of the dead hair and embrace the regrowth process. So, with a lump in my throat, I handed him the scissors and closed my eyes. Why is it so hard to let go of hair???
When he was finished, and I opened my eyes, my hair was much shorter than I anticipated, and I stared in the mirror and cried. To be honest it was a mixture of happy and sad tears. I was sad to have short hair, but so happy the unhealthy parts were gone. My hair had a fresh, healthy start. (And fortunately, even though I was sad over my new short hair, he did a great job and the style was amazing. Seriously- people were asking where I got my hair done! Great job, Babe!)
Now that my hair is healthy, I am being extra sensitive with it, treating with the utmost care, and even taking hair vitamins. It's still short, but now it's long enough to pull back again. Slowly but surely, it is coming back to life, and it is better, and stronger than before.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I can't shake the metaphor this process has become for my deconstructing.
When my faith started shifting and I stepped out of the evangelical culture, I knew for me to be healthy, there were things I needed to let go of. Toxic beliefs, harmful parenting styles, past hurt, old traditions, and much more. So many emotions are wrapped up in letting go because that was my life and there were wonderful moments in it, too! I lived and breathed that lifestyle and knew of nothing else.
I've found that when deconstructing, it's hard to change, especially if we don't know any different. However, I've learned (thank you therapy!) when it no longer helps you, and especially when the damage is visible, it's time to cut off the old and embrace the new - even if it isn't what you anticipated.
Cutting off what is broken allows something beautiful to grow in its place.
I am not a hair expert, nor am I a deconstruction expert, but I am in the middle of regrowing both my lovely locks and my beliefs, so I thought I would share some helpful tips that I have found essential for regrowth.
Community. While regrowing, you can't expect to know everything or process everything on your own. Regrowth can be complicated, so talk to someone one step ahead of you. Walk your journey with people who honestly support you and genuinely care for you. Talk to a trusted expert.
Nourishment. Regrowth will be a waste of time if you aren't properly taking care of yourself and using proper nutrients that you were lacking. Take your vitamins and feed your soul with good and healthy things!
Patience. Regrowth takes time. Remind yourself of that daily - hourly if needed. It is honestly, one step at a time.
Grace. As you grow, things may not look like what you expected. Not only that, but while looking back, you may have regrets. Give yourself grace. Growing is a process and you did the best you could with what you had, and what you knew at that time.
Don't give up. Sometimes it feels easier to be bitter and full of resentment. Sometimes it feels better to just throw in the towel and forget your reasons for change altogether. Embrace the struggle and don't give up. The beauty on the other side is far better than what was left behind.
Keep learning. Growth stops when we stop seeking knowledge.
Trust yourself. If something doesn't feel right as you grow, it probably isn't. Stop and evaluate as needed.
Forgive. As you grow you might feel anger towards what happened in the past. Forgiving doesn't mean forgetting, but it does mean releasing and there is power in that. Releasing the hurt leaves space for beauty.
Trim as needed. As you grow, you might notice some unhealthy parts of you, or unhealthy pieces attached to you. Don't be afraid to cut those off. If it's not helping you, it’s hurting you. The faster you trim the unhealthy parts, the faster you will grow.
Find Joy. Regrowth is messy and hard. It's downright ugly at times. That's why it's essential to find at least one thing, every day, that brings you joy - and then cling to it! Those little moments of joy will end up being the flashlight when it seems dark. Those bursts of light will be the stepping stones that brings you to the beauty on the other side.