Girls with long, beautiful hair are living a lie. On any given windy, Kansas day it can cause numerous injuries. My hair whipping around my head and viciously attacking my eyes has periodically blinded me on several occasions. It hurt, but I let it continue to happen. I did nothing but let me hair grow longer and more powerful for years. I thought that by cutting it off, I would lose part of my identity. One day it just became too much. It would get stuck in my car door, my armpit, in my coat zipper. So I cut it off. Four hours and six inches later, I have my mobility back. I was apprehensive, but I knew that it was holding me back.
I started growing out my hair my freshman year of high school after a childhood filled with nothing but ponytails. I had definitely considered myself a tomboy that was heavily influenced by my father. I wanted nothing to do with pink or skirts. This was something that my father thoroughly enjoyed. He felt like it brought me closer to him and farther from my mom– the high school sweetheart, to wife, to smart enough to take her children and leave a destructive relationship. So anytime my father could use one of his daughters to spite my mom, he would. I was a kid, so all I knew was every other weekend his silver diesel truck would rev down our quite city street and we would spend the weekend, about an hour up the road, at his home.
I never thought much of it. I knew my mother had left him. She never told us why, but as I started to grow older I noticed things, like how my father’s temper was a Black Cat firework that you forgot to throw. Once the heat of the starter stick hit the fuse, if it didn’t hurt your ears, you’d feel the pain. When my father became angry, he would put his arm around my shoulders, pinch my just above my clavicle, and sternly explain to me why I, a seven-year-old, shouldn’t blow bubbles with my Extra bubble gum. “It bothers me while I’m driving. Doesn’t your mother try to teach you any manners?” Tears ran down my face and later a noticed my shoulder had been bruised, but much like my hair, I felt like I could do nothing, because it was expected of me to take the pain for outside appearance. This went on for years. Until one day and one phone call.
My best friend Taylor and I were attached at the hip. We were both going through stupid teenage drama, like when Spencer broke her heart. I was there by her side to eat ice cream and watch MTV’s Awkward. Because being a cliché was something we loved, we had a sleepover every weekend that always involved boys, movies and cuddling. Our senior year of high school was getting ready to begin, so we were celebrating with one last weekend of our best friend adventures. Turns out being with my best friend was what I needed, because that night my father finally broke my heart.
His call started out normal.
“What are you up to?
“Just at Taylor’s watching movies.”
“So I heard your mom bought you a new car? She is an idiot.”
This had become a common phone call routine, and I was doing my best to tune out his voice. It was easier to ignore him than add fuel to the fire. Its not like he would have cared about my opinion anyway. I stayed silent, only filling empty spaces with simple “OK”s. Inside something released; I began to feel pure disgust for this man than claimed to love me and care about me the entirety of my 18 years on Earth.
Not soon enough, the phone call ended.
“OK, I guess I’ll let you get back to what you were doing.”
“Love you. Talk to you later.”
“Love you, too, Dad. Bye.”
Then reality set in. I had to do what my mother had done 15 years prior to: run.
Strength comes from pain, and joy will be found even after sorrow. Impressions become imitations; all the while I evolve as a person. Time is on my side, and time can play against me. The moments after the phone call ended I knew what I had to do. I stopped returning calls. I deleted text messages and I blocked him, his wife and my gross stepsister on Facebook. All I wanted was a simple “sorry.” It never came.
This phone call ran on repeat in my mind for months literally making me sick. I fell into a state of mind feeling like I should, for once in my life, get the last words. So I wrote.
When I was a child, I lied to Mom about a bruise that I had on my side. Your hands caused it, and I said it was a table. I regret that. …”
Eight pages of eighteen years of handwritten hurt, where contained in a letter that sat on my car passenger seat for an additional twenty-three days. Then I put it in the mailbox, cried one last time, and moved on. I was no longer going to allow myself to be trapped in fear.
Having to choose between my family and myself killed me inside. I still feel the wounds, but I’m in a really positive place, and I refuse to change my decision. I feel belittled no more. In my rampage of cutting loose ends, I may have been harsh and inconsiderate, but I’m human. I make mistakes. I apologized with none in return. I’m fine with that, because I made the call. I cut it off.