Today I got my hair cut. It was my first haircut since July 3... 2015. That's 369 days ago. I know this, because on July 3, 2015 I got my hair done before a wedding and instead of making my next appointment in advance like I'd usually do, I said, "I better wait. With the baby coming I'm not sure what my days and schedule will look like!" We laughed. I left. And hadn't been back for over a year.
I was avoiding it quite actively actually. At least once a month for the past 10, the thought of the need for a haircut entered my mind. How could it not? My hair was an absolute mess of dead ends, no shape, and altogether fried from pure lack of care. But I absolutely could not imagine myself walking back into that salon, to my stylist, after all that had transpired.
Let me explain.
Living in a community in which I did not grow up, and do not work in has been a bit of a blessing since losing Ryan. From the earliest days I could go out into the community and never fear running into someone who knew I was pregnant, but didn't know Ryan died. I was free to roam about without the panic that comes from "having to explain." Quite literally the only person I was at risk of that conversation with was my hair stylist. Silly to admit, but quite true none the less.
So for months (and months and months) I avoided seeing her. Which was easy enough. I just didn't go get my hair cut. (Could I have gone to a million different salons? Probably. But I had been seeing this particular stylist for almost 3 years and that kind of "relationship" is one I tend to stay particularly loyal to). So instead, I waited until I felt I'd be "ready" to "have that conversation" should it come up.
And you know what? It didn't. She didn't ask about my obviously pregnant belly. She didn't ask about Ryan. I just got a little pampering and some casual conversation. Maybe it was just excellent tact on her part. Or (more likely) just a lack of memory -- it has been a year, after all), but either way, my afternoon was enjoyable. And the best part was that I wasn't even anxious or worried that it would "come up." I know that's because I gave myself the time I thought I needed before taking it on.
From the outside, maybe it seems like nothing more than a silly haircut. To me, on the inside, I knew it represented so much more than that. It meant having that certain comfort level and confidence in talking freely about Ryan to someone beyond my inner circle. I'm glad I avoided it for so long. Glad I gave myself some time to feel "ready."
On this journey there have been quite a few things I've avoided. Some things I still am avoiding. It's all about protecting myself. Knowing what I can handle. And knowing what I can't. Today, I knew I was ready to talk about Ryan to anyone who asked. Two weeks... a month ago... Not so much. So you avoid what you need to in order to spare your heart any more aching.
And even though I didn't talk about Ryan today, I left with a confidence knowing I could have. (And a confidence that comes from having your hair cut after a year of neglect).