I will never forget the day I heard those words coming from a semi-disgusted voice behind me. As a family, my ex-husband, my son, and I were walking into the Allen High School’s kickoff pep rally. It was supposed to be a fun night.
My son was walking next to me and that man was walking behind us. Out of nowhere, he said, “Man, Tre, look at all that gray hair.” I never stopped walking, I never turned around but I spoke loudly enough so that he (and everybody within a reasonable distance) could hear me and asked, “What about it?” He said, “You got a lot of it.” Coming from a man who had paid me somewhere around three compliments in the early years of our marriage, I knew it was yet another criticism of my appearance. Y’all know I wasn’t going to let those comments pass. I said, “Look at your beard!! It’s pretty much all gray. And you can’t talk about anybody’s hair because you have NONE!” He glared at me. I glared at him. We pretended, like we always did, to enjoy the event.
I knew I had some gray strands. They didn’t really bother me but everyday following his comments, the very first thing he would look at when he came into my presence was my hair. They became one other thing that I began to despise about myself. My hairdresser had made mention of them before but I had never let her color my hair. Eventually, I gave in and let her color it. The color was way too dark so after a series of mishaps to try and correct it, I ended up doing so much damage that I had to have my hair sheared down to the scalp. As was expected, he made fun of it. Even with that 300 foot wall I had built up, he still managed to penetrate it and bring me to tears.
There I was, fat and bald. He had already told me numerous times that he would leave me if I gained weight. He had already told me that I had been a real burden to him. He had already told me that I had never really done anything for him. As much as I believed I was immune to his words and actions, I found myself slipping into a level of depression that only medication relieved. Medication, friends, family and most importantly, prayer – those are the things that pulled me through. I’m no longer taking the mess but those other things? They’re mainstays.
Today, while my hair is not quite as long as it was back then, it is past my shoulders and I’m displaying my gray in the most glorious fashion possible. To be honest, after having been subjected to the cruelty that only a person who doesn’t even love himself can emit, I wondered just what my boyfriend thought of my appearance. This was a concern of mine because we’ve dated off and on for over 26 years. He had been my boyfriend in my “glory” days and here we were again in my not so beautiful days. The first thing he said to me when I saw him again, after over 16 years was, “I like all that I see.” He likes what he sees. He loves who I am. I asked him if it bothers him that I have some gray. He asked how it could, since, if he let his beard grow, there would be some gray.
I love my hair. I love my gray. Despite the pain of those years, I love what they represent. I grew. I learned. I have lessons to teach. I’m still alive in order to make some other woman’s path a little easier. Trust and believe that the gray area is not always a bad place to be. Be blessed!