When I started my natural hair journey, I was pregnant with my daughter. My decision didn’t have much to do with my pregnancy. I decided to go natural before I even knew I was pregnant. My reason to stop relaxing my hair was simple. I felt like my last relaxer left my hair feeling thin and damaged, and I wanted a future with edges. That was all.
A few months after that decision, I decided to do the big chop. It was awesome, especially since I was about 5 months pregnant and it was summer. There is nothing like the ease of a super short hairstyle when you are tired, hot, and pregnant. My decision to chop my hair off felt liberating.
I declared I would never turn back.
A year later, I chopped my hair off again after a bad experience with a hair stylist that left my hair pretty damaged. That second chop was no biggie. I felt like the length of my hair didn’t matter much at that point, so despite my frustration with the damage done to my hair, I chopped it with ease and life went on.
Now it’s been 3 years since that second chop and I am having serious doubts about this natural hair journey. I even have days where the thought of relaxing my hair again comes to mind. I never thought those thoughts would resurface. I mean, I am natural and proud. I love my thick coils. My 3-year old daughter loves my coils.
Why would I disrupt all of this hair-loving energy with a relaxer?
Why? Because I hate doing my hair.
I have always hated styling my hair. When I had a relaxer, I was a wrap and go kind of girl. I rarely used curling irons or flat irons. I rarely did anything fancy unless I had someplace special to go. And when the wrap and go wasn’t looking great, I pulled my hair back into a ponytail and threw on some lip-gloss—leaving me ready to take on the world.
I miss how simple it was to take care of my hair back then.
You see, caring for my thick coils takes up A LOT of my time. Time that I really don’t have to spare. And even if I did have the time, I still don’t think I’d want to spend it on my hair. I’d much rather read a book, take a kickboxing class, or catch up on episodes of Scandal. Doing my hair just isn’t a priority. I don’t think it ever will be.
So here I am, with damaged hair again, and this time, I don’t have a stylist to blame. I am the culprit. I haven’t been taking the best care of these coils. I’ve been falling asleep without even giving my hair a second thought, only to wake up with hair that looks dry and neglected. My hair is probably pissed off at me right now, and rightfully so. I’ve abused it knowing that it deserves so much better.
And don’t get me wrong, I love my natural hair. I love all my coils. I love my edges (boy, do I love my edges). With so much love for my hair, the idea of getting another relaxer scares the mess out of me. What if it damages my hair again? What if it messes up my sensitive scalp? What if it damages my daughter’s perception of her own hair? So many concerns to consider.
Read: How I Re-Grew My Edges
So what’s next? Right now I have a protective style that I love. These crochet braids are allowing my hair and scalp to rest, and they are also giving me the time I need to think. With each passing day, the thought of a relaxer seems less and less likely. Despite my frustrations with my growing, natural hair, I just can’t bring myself to do it. Talk about taking the hair abuse to another level. I love my hair too much for that.
But I can’t tell you that I have what it takes to take care of long, natural hair in the way that it needs to be taken care of. Especially not long, natural hair that happens to be extremely dry (I could put a bottle of oil in my hair and it wouldn’t even look oily the next day).
With a relaxer seeming unlikely, and healthy, long hair feeling like a long shot, I think another short do might be in my future. I can honestly say that the best part about going natural has been my ability to let go of my attachment to the length of my hair. I still like how I look with long hair, but I can rock a short look with confidence, too. That makes me smile.
So although I’ve been tempted by how easy it was to style my relaxed hair, I just don’t think I am tempted enough to go down that road again. Having natural hair is a lot of work, but I have come to find that easy route is often the most damaging one. Sometimes the things we need the most require us to put in some extra effort—or get a cut and rock a short do if the extra effort isn’t working for us.
Martine Foreman is a lifestyle and relationship expert who is dedicated to helping women create healthier, happier lives. Through her lifestyle blog, candidbelle.com, Martine shares impactful content that inspires women to take action so they can create lives they love. Martine is also a contributor to blackandmarriedwithkids.com and madamenoire.com.