By Panther, 2018-09-06
I was waiting until Sept. 10th (when my dreads have their fourth month birthday) to post again, but the process is developing so quickly that I`m scared I might miss or forget something if I don`t catch it now.
When I first dreaded my hair, I felt like the most beautiful thing this side of the moon. It seemed it released my true self from a self-imposed prison which had lasted nearly sixty years.
Fairly quickly the top layer of dreads started to go gnarly and loopy, and I only went outside with half-updos (which I always "freed" the minute I got home).
Then one side got dramatically shorter than the other, and there were loops everywhere, and I didn`t feel beautiful any more, and hiding my hair before I went out became the new "problem" (though "freeing" it the minute I walked through the door became as much of a ritual as ripping off my bra the minute I walked through the door had been ten years before, before I dispensed with bras altogether).
All this time it was puzzling me that I was so sensitive about what others might say or think, because most of the time I don`t care a rat`s behind about what others say or think. I was hiding my hair because the opinion of others might hurt me and yet generally I don`t care about the opinion of others. I really racked my brains trying to figure it out.
At the same time, I was growing increasingly resentful that I "had to" invent new, neat hairstyles every day to avoid hurtful remarks from others.
At some time I realized I didn`t have to. So first I went to my vegetable garden with loose dreads, then I visited my family with loose dreads, and finally I started to go to my music lessons with loose dreads. It wasn`t until I started to do this that I realized that other people`s negative responses can only affect me if I have a negative feeling about (whatever it is) myself. I had a negative feeling about my dreads when they started to go gnarly and loopy, which made me vulnerable to negative criticism. I got some negative remarks (and some funny ones). It didn`t matter by then, because I`d finally learned to "stand by my dreads" (one of my friends told me I looked like someone who had lived for thirty years in a cave without realizing that the hippie movement was finally over. I laughed, it was funny).
Wearing them loose anyway was the best way of breaking free. They`d never been loose outside before, and they just loved it. They got wind, sun and fine rain, and pretty soon they`d figured out how they want to lie and which hairs want to go where; as long as I was hiding them, they couldn`t learn that.
I love them again, and feel something very akin to grief that there was a phase - however short - where I didn`t love them and even tried to force or coerce them.
I feel beautiful again, not because they have changed, but because my attitude has.
So, for the record:
The short side has kind of relaxed and I have around 5 cm of regrowth that side which stands up like half a halo (the other side has around 1 cm new growth).
My hair`s growing like fury and is almost back to my waist again.
Most dreads have like a sheath of loose hairs surrounding them; they are not dreaded yet, but you can`t pull them away either. They`ve decided which dread they want to hang out with. The texture is velvety, like a mole or a beaver - short, dense fur. Or like the mossy-like stuff which covers reindeer horns. They are so beautiful right now - beautiful like a boy soprano is, because the time they are going to be like that is so limited.
I`m sorry now that I was so fixated on what they`re going to be like when they`re "done" that I failed to recognize how beautiful they already are. Hopefully I won`t get into that again.
By Panther, 2018-08-27
While I was considering dreading my hair, which took around 2 years, I sometimes wondered why in the so-called "ugly phase" dreads are frequently called "teenage dreads". I`m only four months in and don`t claim to know the answer yet by a long chalk, in fact I don`t know much about dreads at all - yet. But I do know a bit about teenagers, because I raised four sons more-or-less on my own and have taught hundreds of children. So here are a few parallels with which my limited experience of dreads has presented me to date.
Teenagers are typically (not always) pretty obnoxious. Spotty, smelly, hairy, rebellious, histrionic, unpredictable, rude, ungrateful - and at times tearjerkingly sweet, unexpectedly loving or wise, heartbreakingly and ephemerally beautiful.
Teenagers egg each other on. If you have a "badass" teenager sitting next to a "good" teenager, you`re likely going to end up with two pretty unruly characters on your hands. The badass one may or may not become less badass, but the good one is definitely going to get worse.
Any attempt to force or coerce teenagers into the kind of "tidy" behaviour you expect from them is likely to result in even more unruliness. Leave them alone and they behave much better.
Despite their impossible behaviour, teenagers - like everyone else - need to be loved for what they are here and now (even when they take obvious pleasure in consistently disregarding all your boundaries), not for some fictitious imagined perfection they are expected to attain in the future.
If you are capable of listening to them, teenagers will show you mercilessly that you are not what you thought you were. Maybe they show you that you have fewer "good" attributes than you thought, maybe they show you that you cultivate your "good" attributes for the wrong reasons, maybe they show you that your "good" attributes are tainted by self-interest or the urge to control. From my sons I learned that I was more selfish and more of a control-freak than I thought I was. From my 4-month old dreadlocks I have learned that I am vainer, more concerned about other people`s opinion and (still) more of a control freak than I thought I was. This tells me that my sons were not able to teach me to be less of a control-freak; I hope my dreadlocks will finish the job, I really do, because it`s not much fun being a control-freak and it`s no fun at all being a control-freak with teenage dreadlocks. My sons love my dreadlocks, by the way. They found them fantastic right from the first moment. They are fascinated by the process and sharing it every way. I guess they recognise that I`m growing, maybe it`s that they find good. Salutations to all in a similar stage of growth, every which way, and a toast to uncomfortable, unattractive, uncontrollable and magical teenage chaos the world over.