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Hairapy: It's a Thing

I've been with my hairdresser for almost as long as I've been with my husband— 16 years. With no irony, it's been one of the longest and most stable relationships of my adult life.

I don't see her often. With my long hair, maybe three times a year. Five years ago I started bringing my son to see her, too, so that means we see each other maybe seven times a year, give or take a time or two.

I adore her.

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There is something about sitting in her chair that just feels like relief. It's a guilt-free few hours to focus on me, what's been happening in my world the past few months, the highs and the lows. She knows things about me—secret things that I don't tell even close friends. We've talked about the intimate details of our son's adoption, the raw grief of my daughter's cancer and death, the various ins and outs of being estranged from family members.

I think of it as "hairapy," only it's a lot cheaper than the alternative. Pffft. Both hairdressers and therapists are licensed by the State, right?

Think about it. This person's primary function is to help you feel better about yourself by improving the way you look. That is a big deal. As a mom, I try to not phone it in every day, but who am I kidding? There are a lot of days I phone it in. Sweats and a pile of hair on top of my head is often as good as it gets. But somewhere, whispering in the background, is my stylish haircut that aches to come out to play. My hairdresser did that.

When someone sees you, truly sees you, and still likes you, well, that right there is a reason to stick around.

I cheated on her once and regretted it almost instantly. But then I felt too guilty to acknowledge my sin, so it took a few more visits to another before acknowledging the dalliance with a new hairdresser. As in any long term relationship, my thoughts started to wander. What would it be like to have a stranger shampoo me? How might a different person deal with my curls? Would someone else be less enamored with layers? It didn't help that a friend was at an especially high point in the relationship with her own hairdresser at the same time I was thinking of straying.

I was vulnerable.

She knew, of course. During my hair affair, I continued to see her when I brought my son in for his cuts. Of course she knew. I felt like such a jerk. But, in typical fashion, she was all business, no shaming at all. One of the reasons I love her so is for her practical approach to hair and life. She is a Bosnian refugee, you see. She doesn't entertain drama or nonsense in her salon. She has lived and known trauma and is able to realize that a client taking break is nothing to get worked up about.

Personally, I think she always knew that I would be back, that I could never leave her for long. The perfectionism she brings to her cuts is only part of the reason I have remained her client. The other reasons are more intangible. She is a great listener. She gives amazing advice based on her own experiences of fleeing a war-torn country and starting over as a young woman in her early 20s in a new country half way around the world. She seems to "get" me without a lot of required explanation. We are simpatico, she and I.

Did I mention I adore her?

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When someone sees you, truly sees you, and still likes you, well, that right there is a reason to stick around. When that person who sees you also works hard to help you look and feel your best? Now, come on.

Kudos to all you hairdressers out there, doling out the advice and highlights simultaneously. You are so very appreciated.

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Image via Twenty20/VictoriaSananes

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