By Jennifer Rose, 2013-03-09
For those of you who don't know me, I have loved dreadlocks for MANY years, and have tried some "version" or another of them at least 5 times in 6 years. The first set, started 6 years ago in January, was backcombed & waxed to hell, because that's what I read was the "right way to dread caucasian hair". I actually kept that set a year, but combed them out eventually because the wax never came out and they didn't fully lock. Consecutive sets, I backcombed, but did not wax, having learned that lesson the hard way. However, the second set only lasted 2 months because of a dread perm that caused massive damage. 3rd set was backcombed and neglected for 8 months, and was coming along beautifully - until someone told me I could make it soooo much neater with crochet and felting needle. Which of course not only ruined the progress I had made, but also caused so much breakage that I gave up and took them out a month later. Hindsight is always 20/20 as the saying goes, and looking back I wish I had had more information on the dos and don'ts of dreading, it would have saved me sooooo much trouble. But because dreadlockssite wasn't around at that time, I had to bumble and learn myself from my own mistakes.
The last two times I had dreads, including right now, I started from very short hair, after cutting off the damaged hair from the previous attempts at dreads, and although I started them with rip & twist, I added extensions because I hated how short they were and was impatient - and in order to anchor those extensions, some crochet is required so they don't slip out. In my journey of defining what dreads are and are not to me, I have come to feel unsatisfied, and though I've rocked a version of dreads many times, I've been feeling that in all my efforts to "perfect" and "tidy" the dreads, with all the crocheting in particular, maybe I just have kind of missed the whole point of having them... which is being wild & free, finding the "joy in the journey", and not holding myself to others standards/expectations of what I should look like. It also didn't help that at some point in there, I started helping others start their dreads, so felt the pressure of needing to look perfect in order to attract more clientele, as well as peer pressure from colleagues on the dreadlocks workers forums, to maintain my "professional image". I've since let go of that career path, at least for now, until I can figure out if there's a way to do it without undermining the spiritual and emotional aspects of the journey & focusing solely on the technical.
Also, from my reading on here, I've fallen completely head over heels in LOVE with the appearance of natural dreads... the loops, wildness, loose hair, having a wild jungle "mane" - which are all things I haven't let my locks BE at this point - too much maintenance makes dreads unnaturally tight, scratchy, and stiff, and compared to natural dreads they look almost "too" perfect, neat, uniform. I want to go thru and EMBRACE the experience, enjoy the craziness, wake up wondering each day what my locks are going to do today. I've spent far too much of my life trying to control and manage things around me OR letting others do that to me, and have been trying to learn to let go in general... and for me doing that with my hair is just an outer reflection of that inner shift.
4 months ago I started this last set, with the intentions of doing nothing but tnr and then neglect, my head was in the right space. But then right after that (within a few days of starting the locks) my mom died, as well as a whole host of life changes, including my daughter going into a longterm mental healthcare facility, and my marriage almost breaking up, that totally threw me into a tailspin, causing me to sink into depression for a period because I was so overwhelmed and SAD. Thus I once again started feeling the need to take control of something, since my life seemed to be spinning out of control, and so I changed the plan, trying once again to manage my dread journey as a coping mechanism. I twisted & ripped my own hair, and then crocheted extensions in again. The roots are doing their wild thing, and for 4 months have been growing in and forming on their own, as I haven't touched them with a crochet hook or anything else, but the ends once again are too tight and controlled, even with attempts to loosen and "naturalize" them with oils and such, they are not softening up and looping and changing, probably partly because of the crochet and partly because the extension hair I bought is not soft and healthy like my own hair, it feels rougher, more processed, like a brillo pad - and I don't a feel a synergistic link to it because I didn't grow it out of my own head... it's like a foreign object on my head. I also feel that the grief of my mom's death and the soul sickness that overtook me is bound up in those extensions, and that's NOT something I want to hold onto and choose to carry with me... I've had a tendancy to depression in the past, and it's important to me to move on and choose to not wallow in this and let it run my life as happened before. They've gotta go!
So maybe it was not the best choice to start this journey that way, but I AM human and make mistakes. But I also am able to learn from those mistakes, and grow... and I've realized that in order to heal from the loss of my mom and embrace the changes life has THROWN me into, I need to let go of this last attempt to control... to let go and BE. Anyway, I made a commitment to not comb or mess with my hair for at least a year so I don't feel I can break that by completely taking it all out and starting over with tnr or natural. But I want to remove the extensions that are a symbol of that need for control, that aren't really ME - leaving just the tnr locks that formed the past 4 months and were not interfered with, and then let nature take over. Maybe having shorter dreads for awhile will suck, but at least they are all MINE, and when they finally do reach to my shoulders again, it will be because I was patient and went thru the trials and tribulations to get there, to earn that length and that maturity - not because I gave into pressure and cheated. I will have EARNED my dreadie stripes. And that will be MEANINGFUL to me on MANY levels.
I plan to start the process of removing the artificial hair from my head and going full on neglect at that point very soon... probably in the next couple weeks. It's become nearly an obsession the past month, needing to do this, meditating on it, perusing blogs and photos on here and just appreciating this process - I can't wait to start my own journey, in some ways for the first time, discarding most of what I thought I knew, and growing and learning along with my dreads. Much of this will be new to me, so I will be hanging around here for support when things get crazy, and trying to learn from all of you lovely souls. I am very thankful for soaringeagle and the wonderful resource that is dreadlockssite for helping me and so many others get to this point!