By Veleisa Patton
I couldn’t believe I was having this discussion, in that moment.
I was sitting in the small extra-bedroom in my sister’s flat in London on New Year’s Eve. Headed into 2009. My outfit for the night is laid out on the bed and I looked down on it as I felt sweat building on my scalp beneath my recently shorn curls. Instead of preparing to hit the town, my fiancé and I faced each other, confronting our longstanding issue: trust and expectations.
Looking back, I can’t quite recall how we agreed to marriage. Aside from the fact that it seemed like a good idea based on where I was in life – new college graduate starting my career – I wasn’t distinctly drawn to the institution. We simply moved from “I like you, you like me” to “we should get married” swept up in the new chapter of our lives. Cue the ring, an engagement party and moving in together, and the reality of what a union truly is began to weigh on us.
My ego wouldn’t allow me to admit that I had leapt in and the water was deeper than I expected … and rising. Petty arguments arose, resentment built and communication took a nosedive. We were shackled to the idea of happily ever after, the expectations of modern life and instant gratification.
I took the first step of releasing myself from others’ restrictions with the simple act of discovering my hair’s delicate curl pattern beneath years of straightening. The arc of the hair from my root shone like a beacon. It told me that there were other things I could discover, if I was willing to try, if I was willing to confront my own expectations. In a moment of decisiveness, I cut it all off. I then sat, rubbing the palm of my hand over the prickly texture of new growth that I had previously suppressed the same way I was silencing my internal voice telling me that my relationship was not serving me. I’d freed my hair, and I needed to do the same to my true feelings.
To look at pictures from that night in London, you’d think we had the time of our lives: smiles from ear to ear, covered in streamers and hoisting glasses of Buck’s Fizz. Two days after we returned, I ended the relationship. I am now far enough away from the moment to recognize that that night was a celebration: I marked a new year, full of new possibilities; and in confronting the unspoken, I’d freed myself.
Veleisa Patton is a communicator, yoga instructor and a writer. Her fascination for storytelling led to her career in marketing and public relations in the realms of travel, tourism and transportation. Her passion is in leading students on the mat and remaining a student off the mat in her own practice. She became passionate about wellness when she realized, as a Black woman in the 21st century, she is her own biggest cheerleader. A flame was sparked in Veleisa to embrace self-care, vegetarianism and enter yoga teacher training. She recognized that guiding others, especially women of color, in their wellness journey is a privilege.