Truth? I love my hair.
It’s curly and wild and does it’s own thing. I have tried other hair styles and always come back to the waves and curls because it’s part of what makes me, well, me.
A few years back, I was going to a hairstylist who was not, shall we say, doing my hair any favors. It was over processed and brittle and dried out to the point that it would not curl. Frankly, it just hung on my head like straw.
I tried to like it. I really did. I told myself that this was a new look and I was breaking out of my comfort zone. That my hair stylist ( we will call her Wanda) was doing the best she could and I owed it to her to continue to go even if I hated the way my hair looked and felt. By this time, we had become friends- ish in the way that you do with people you see once every 6 weeks. She was really funny and I told her about my life and truly enjoyed her.
Of course, this made it even harder to consider getting my hair cut by another person. What would Wanda think of me? Would I hurt her feelings? Would she be mad? What if I was wrong and went to a stylist who was worse and wanted to come back?
I sat in this space of uncomfortable indecision for a while, simultaneously looking forward to seeing Wanda and dreading the aftermath of my appointment.
Then came The Picture. We had some family photos done and I teared up when I saw my hair. It was not so much about how awful it looked ( and it did); it was more about how I’d let this relationship go on that was not giving me what I wanted and needed for far too long. I knew right there I had to end it.
I did not want to ghost her and drop off the earth. So I called and left her a message (praying the whole time for her voice mail), that I would not be returning.
In retrospect, I’m glad I made the decision to go elsewhere, AND I would have handled it a bit differently.
I would have talked to her and told her what I was dissatisfied with, and how I would want for it to change in order for me to continue to see her. I would have watched how she handled that conversation. Did she get defensive and shut me down? Or was she open to hearing my concerns and addressing them? And if she was, I would have waited to see if she had the capacity to match her intention. Could she truly course correct based on my input and feedback, or was she simply not capable of giving me what I needed?
So often in relationships, we are unhappy or resentful and have a litany of unspoken complaints about the other person or the dynamic. And yet we sit on them, expecting the other person to read our mind ( and using the fact that they can’t as evidence that they don’t really care about us, or are not committed, etc). And ultimately, we “leave” the relationship by checking out, seeing other people, or we end things without finding out if this person can meet us.
It takes an incredible amount of courage to give voice to our desires. It’s “easier ” just to cut and run in whatever way this looks for us. The thing is, we never give ourselves a chance to learn what we truly need, and we will find ourselves back in an unfulfilling relationship the next time around. We will label others as “emotionally unavailable” when in fact, we are the ones who are unavailable to ourselves because we are not truly tuning into our hearts.
Maybe the other person is unavailable and can’t meet us. But how will we ever know if we don’t presence our needs to begin with? How can we be sure if we don’t give them a chance? I might have had this conversation with Wanda and discovered that she was unable to give me what I asked for. My hair my still have looked the same, but at least I would have exited that relationship knowing I had given it every opportunity to work.
One of my teachers says ” Complaints are lazy desires” . If you feel unsatisfied in your relationship, a powerful inquiry is just that: What is my desire underneath this complaint? How would I want this to be different if I could have it any way I wanted? What would I need in order to be able to stay in this relationship?
If you can land on this, you are half way home. Bringing this to the other person- hairdresser, therapist, mother, lover-it does not matter- allows the relationship to either deepen or fade away. My guess is that whichever way it went, you would feel more peaceful and at ease about your decision.
I know I would have.