“He cut my hair,” I mumbled, not really paying attention to what I was saying or to me, she continued digging through her purse for a stick of gum, she kept rambling about Mr. Cooper, one of the elderly residents located on the floor that she managed at the nursing home. “He cut my hair Mama!” I yelled louder determined for her to acknowledge my pain. She turned and quickly realizing that the thick mane of hair that flowed to my shoulders was no longer there. He had cut my hair, cut my pride, cut my self-esteem.
Without looking at my mother, I continued driving her home from work. My shame and the fact that I was unsure how she would respond made it hard for me to look her in the eyes, so I became the narrator of my story.
He moved closer. His face blank, lips slightly curled, and eyes raging.
It was about 10:30 p.m. and I heard the door open. I immediately closed my eyes and pretended to be fast asleep; knowing that if he walked in and I was wide awake watching TV, he would have immediately thought someone had been in the house.
With my eyes closed, I could see the light change in the room. I knew he had turned on the ceiling light. Trying to look as if he had just interrupted my slumber, I sat up in the bed stretching my arms. I quickly took notice to his face, my sign of whether or not I was going to really get a good night’s sleep. The look on his face would tell the story.
To my dismay, I noticed him looking around the room trying to find any indication that I had not been faithful. Not being able to find any signs of infidelity, he still turned and looked at me with the look – that time bomb expression, which told me this was going to be a long night.
Trying to quickly think of what I could say to defuse his mood, I asked him if he was hungry and if he wanted me to fix him something to eat. This usually worked in a pinch, but he wasn’t going for it tonight. He continued to pace our bedroom like an armed soldier waiting for the enemy. In the midst of his marching back and forth, he went into the hall and looked in on our three-year-old son. By the grace of God, he was still sound asleep.
I continued to lay in our king sized bed with the comforter pulled to my waist. I grabbed the remote to relieve my tension. Nervously I started changing the channels. I immediately looked up when he reentered our bedroom. He was holding a pair of utility scissors in his left hand. My chest started to rise and fall as if I had just competed in a marathon. I wished so badly that I could jump into his mind, so I could know his plan for the scissors, his plans for me, but even though I attempted to read his eyes, all I could see was insecurity.
He moved closer. His face blank, lips slightly curled, and eyes raging. It appeared that he really didn’t know what he was about to do, making it up as time slowly crept by. The look. The same look he’d had just before locking me in the broom closet at midnight soaking wet with my chin in my knees until dawn. The same look he had when I sat in the corner staring at him while he slept, wondering how we got here.
I quickly jumped up and sat on the side of the bed. Faking like I wasn’t afraid, I calmly sat on the edge of the bed staring straight ahead like a deer in headlights, with many thoughts racing through my mind.
What is this fool about to do with these scissors, I know he is not about to cut me. Lord have mercy. I am so tired of this mess.
Instantly my stomach started to “kick-up.” My nerves were getting the best of me. But I decided that a move to the bathroom wasn’t a good idea because I didn’t want to be caught in a small vulnerable space while he had scissors in his hand. It was surreal, like watching a television show. It didn’t feel like it was happening to me.
Chop, chop was it. My hair that gave me so much pride. My hair that uniquely defined me. My hair that I loved to get styled weekly so I could feel pretty and kick-it with the sistas at the salon. Listening to their stories of dissatisfaction, lack of self-worth and their cheating men. Being entertained while I sat silent. My hair had fallen to the floor like a fallen soldier, no longer alive, simply D.O.A. – dead on arrival.
I continued to sit on the edge of the bed for a few minutes trying to understand exactly what had just happened. What I let happen. He left the room and walked back into the kitchen and put the scissors back into the drawer without a word – rhyme or reason. I could hear him open the drawer in the kitchen and close it back again. A few moments later, my body moved from the bed to the mirrored dresser carrying my frozen thoughts.
Standing directly in front of the mirror, I slowly looked up to meet the new me. Wasn’t sure if I would like this person, and I especially wasn’t sure if I would think she was pretty. The introduction was inevitable, so no better time than the present to say hello.
I tried to picture myself looking cute with my “new” short hair, twisting my head to and fro. But all I saw was a clown whose hair on the sides was longer than the hair on the top.
“Wow,” no more pretending. He walked back into our bedroom and I looked at this face, not sure what I would see. The look was no longer there. He now held the look of remorse and maybe even regret.
That initial wild look of jealousy and domination was no longer present. The look that I feared when I hadn’t returned on time from running an errand; the look that caused me to flinch from a simple gesture had diminished and softened.
At that moment I immediately went into denial. I started to convince myself that he really didn’t mean what he did. I replayed the events of the day prior to him cutting my hair and tried to recall a time during any point that my actions, my disobedience, had warranted my hair being cut. Was there any point in the day where I could have done anything different to prevent his anger and dissatisfaction with me, I wondered.
Mama was focused and listening intensely making few comments.
Finally speaking her peace before getting out of the car, “You might not be able to whup ‘em, but let him know you’ve been there.” My interpretation of those words was that I deserved better and never to stand for any abuse. I needed help. I decided at that moment that I would no longer be a victim, and I would fight to prove I believed in him – the him that hid behind the look. So he could start to believe in him too.
As these memories come to me, I literally hold my breath when I think about “The Look” that I feared for years. And I drop to my knees after finally realizing that it has been twenty-six since he buried “The Look.”
This is when I say to myself and others, GOD IS GOOD! I know longer wonder what “look” my now husband will have painted on his face when he enters our bedroom. I no longer pretend to be asleep when he enters the bedroom of the home that we built. I no longer wonder about or question the love and respect we now have for each other. I no longer wonder or question the love and respect he now has for me.
Just like our home, our relationship is strong and sound. His look now is one of peace, joy, and love. He is no longer looking for signs of things that he knows don’t exist. Our bond is like cement…much like the cement used to create the foundation for our home.
I can’t wait to see his look now. The moment he walks in the door and our eyes meet, his face softens and he greets me with a smile of affection and commitment. He also shares this look with his grandchildren, welcoming them with BIG hugs. Scooping them in his arms and spinning wildly with excitement.
It is funny how Mama and I talk about my husband today. He is the son she never had. She is proud to call him son, and is elated to know that her daughter is happy and proud to be married to a man of substance, a man of God.
My husband today brings security to our family and a strong sense of self as an entrepreneur. The name of his business is “Third Generation Jewelers.” The name he gave in honor of his mother and stepfather who established the family jewelry business. The name that represents him – the second generation and most importantly, the name that denotes our children, the third generation of this family owned legacy. Our life symbolizes the power of Love and I am thankful for Deliverance!
“Everyone has a story. Some choose to hide their testimony, but I decided a long time ago to share my experience. I believe that truth creates healing.”
Sister Speak Milwaukee is excited to support healing in the community through storytelling!