In Al-Anon there’s this common phrase: “Adult child of an alcoholic.”
(Waaaait a minute, you’re saying, what does this have to do with fashion or hair? I’ll get us there, I promise).
It just means that you are an adult who had an alcoholic family member in your childhood.
But, for years, in my brain I heard it as “Adult-Child of an alcoholic.” As in, we were adults as children because there was an alcoholic in our life. We were little adult children.
I laughed out loud the day I realized I had been mis-translating it all those years.
But had I been mistranslating? Maybe in the literal sense, yes. But that word “adult child” was a phrase I needed to add to my vocabulary.
I had been an adult-child.
Yes, I had all the outward trappings of a childhood, but emotionally I was doing the work of a CEO. By the time I was a teenager the last vestiges of fun and games were over. I had to be able to survive and there was little room for error in my mind.
Even though I was absolutely the kind of teenager who would have dyed her hair, or gotten piercings, or purchased all her clothes exclusively at Hot Topic I never felt like I had the time or money or energy. I couldn’t risk spending cash I might need later, I couldn’t risk having a hair color that might prevent me from getting that summer job, I couldn’t risk getting a piercing that could leave a permanent hole.
That served me well at the time and it got me where I am today, and for that I am grateful. But the cool thing about childhood survival tactics is that often as we grow up, they no longer serve us and we can shed them. The challenge, of course, is to identify what those tactics are and then put in the blood, sweat and tears to learn new skills.
Part of my growth process has been inviting my adult-child, to be a child-child. To be and do the things that she felt weren’t available to her before.
I know that teenage me has been silently begging and pleading to be let out for all these years. She’s like a forlorn ghost, leaving subtle signs around the house that she is still there and she has something to say.
Hot Topic moody rebel teenager me really really wants to dye her hair a crazy color and let everybody know that she’s counter culture, that she’s different, that she’s something to look at and that she isn’t to be defined.
So this year, I finally FINALLY decided to oblige her.
Meet, teenage me.
The process has been really fun but it certainly wasn’t quick or inexpensive (teenagers rarely are either).
Want to try?
Here’s the 411:
- We did two rounds of bayalage (in two separate appointments).
- My stylist mixed two different blue dyes to get this color.
- We used Olaplex to prevent damage (in fact it made my hair feel healthier than it ever has!)
- We used Color Lock to keep the color in longer
- I’m using GK Hair Color Protection Shampoo and Conditioner to protect the color
- I’m rinsing my hair in cold water (THE WORST)
I love my hair! It is everything teenage me always wanted. Only I’m an adult, so it’s even better!
Yeah in this blog fashion talk = opportunity for personal growth.
So here’s what I’d like to invite you to do.
What are five things YOU would do if they weren’t too crazy?
You can share them in the comments or write them down privately somewhere.
Now ask yourself, what part of you is speaking to you from those five things? Is there a child, a teenager, an artist, a goth, a daughter, a sibling…needing to be seen and heard?
You don’t have to do any of the things you write down now (to be clear, I made that list in 2011 and I’ve now done one of the five) – but just get it out there so that maybe you can start to be ready, to be ready, to be ready for your own blue hair.
Now go out there and find your inner child, you adult-adult you!