"If you cut your long hair you'll lose your strength like Samson in the Bible did!" A nutty leader within the church I was dragged to through my childhood and teens.
"The thing I love most about you is your long hair." A very nutty boyfriend.
"If you cut your hair short I'll leave you." A boyfriend who turned out to be nuttier than a bucket of muesli.
Waking up to find that 'bucket of muesli boyfriend' had plaited my hair to the ironwork of the headboard again made me crave a short bob.
I had hair that I could tuck into my jeans throughout my teens and 20s. It was part of my identity and I treasured it, but when it was used as a method of restraint during traumatic times it became a curse.
After eight years of haunting my own house with the 'muesli bucket' whose cruelty brought me to this After Silence community, I finally realised I had a metaphorical intolerance to nuts and escaped in 2007.
My long locks followed me into the happy relationship I'm in now, and my dad asked my new husband to look after me at our wedding during his speech... "And always make sure she keeps her lovely long hair!" he bellowed, as our guests cheered and applauded.
11 years later, I'm now in a place on this strange, rocky rollercoaster of recovery from my past where I can say, "There's a mind under this hair, and this mind matters."
"It's only hair! Don't write a blog entry about your hair!" I hear my mind say... but I have reasons (that are poignant to me) why a change would be therapeutic.
As well as my long plaitable tresses triggering times of restraint, terror and control, my hair is one of the very few parts of my body that isn't affected by the connective tissue disorder I have. But, trying to manage multiple inches of tangles with arms that are affected by my condition causes problems. As part of my trauma therapy, I'm getting to know the shell I waddle around in as a good thing... one body part at a time. Learning to like, value and trust your body is challenging when everything hurts and limits you so much. So, I'm currently working on my hair because it doesn't hurt, it's easy to change to reflect the more confident me, it's going to be a delight when it doesn't become a trigger for emotional and physical pain, and it's also my protest against anyone who dares to dictate the length of it!
On Saturday morning I went to my Covid-safe hair salon with a fierce 'f**k you long hair lovers!' level of confidence and left with a shoulder length bob that's impossible to plait... and I frickin' love it.
Something so insignificant in the whole scheme of things has marked a milestone of new-found emotional independence and adult bravery I should have known a long time ago. Embracing the bob on Saturday morning was my way of popping a Champaign cork while planting my flag in new ground, and it's my megaphone to announce my freedom.
And the fact that my split ends don't land in my dinner any more is an added bonus. 😉