The following excerpt is from the forthcoming memoir “Finding Sunlight” by Chrissy Holm.
Five years after my wedding to Scott, I stare at my 29-year-old reflection in the salon mirror. My inner child screams at me, Do it! Do it!
When I was six years old, I found the scissors in Mom’s sewing kit and sliced a chunk out of my bangs. Unable to hide it, Mom stared at me with wide eyes, and a lecture from Dad ensued.
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“According to God’s Word,” he said, “women and girls should have long hair.”
My heart sank. I didn’t want long hair.
At ten years old, I sat at a Fantastic Sam’s and showed a magazine picture to the hairstylist. I begged Mom to let me cut it short. She sighed and said, “I don’t know, Chrissy. It’ll take a long time to grow back, and I’m not sure you’ll like it.”
I shook my head, adamant. “But I will!”
Mom wasn’t so sure. “And you’re in soccer, so you can’t pull it back into a ponytail, and your father wouldn’t approve, and—” The list went on and on. I didn’t go through with it because the Bible said I had to honor my father and mother.
The hairdresser snaps me out of my memories. “What are you looking to do for your hair today?” She wraps the black cape around me while my legs bounce. “I want it short.” I pull out my phone from underneath the cape and show her the pictures I’d been saving into my camera roll for the last two weeks. In reality, it had been a lifetime of searching.
She glances at the pictures and asks me if I’ve ever cut my hair this short before. I lie and say yes. I can’t have another person talk me out of this again. She smiles and says, “Okay, let’s do it.”
Her words are an exact mirror of my own thoughts earlier that day. That morning, after several therapy sessions and not speaking with Dad for seven months, I decided it was time to heal and reconnect. But it was not to tell him about my haircut. Instead, to remove another weight off my chest that had festered for more than twenty years, I came out as bisexual.
Dad took a deep breath, and rambled on about making mistakes, his three failed marriages, broken relationships in our family, and that he couldn’t change the past. Then he uttered, “Twenty years ago, I would’ve said that you’re going to Hell. Correct yourself and repent.” I coiled up and felt a thickness in my throat. Years of hate, shame, and guilt resurfaced. I was ready for a change. A chance for him to see and finally accept the real me.
“But today,” he said. “No matter what, I’m proud of you.”
My body released all the tension it had been grasping—the seed in me bursting through the dirt.
Back in the salon, I feel the clip of the scissors right above the ponytail line. This is more than just a haircut. It’s a chance to express myself and let it all go. To stop hiding and to finally express the realest version of myself. I glance at my sunflower tattoo, close my eyes, and feel proud of the person I have become.
The hairdresser holds up the foot of hair in the mirror.
“Do you want to keep it?”
I stare back at my reflection, feeling liberated.
“No,” I smile. “You can throw it away.”
Chrissy Holm (she/they) is a writer, editor, and project manager. She is the host of the podcast Stirred By Words, where she talks about words, writing, and wellness. Her writing has been featured on Everyday Health, National Council on Aging, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, and more. Chrissy lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and daughter. “Finding Sunlight” is her first book. For more of Chrissy’s writing, connect with her on social media @chrissyholm_ or visit www.chrissyholm.com.
Wise Ink Creative Publishing is a creative publishing agency for game-changers. Wise Ink authors uplift, inspire, and inform, and their titles support building a better and more equitable world. For more information, visit wiseink.com.