Today's post is about pain. Mostly from tattoos and piercings and stuff.
Yesterday, I got my second tattoo and my seventh piercing. I got my first piercings, earlobes, done before I can remember. My mom had them pierced for my first birthday, which I understand now is a very controversial decision. When I was in seventh grade, my mother talked me into getting my bellybutton pierced. Terrible idea. I went into shock. It grew shut a few months later. Last April, I decided on a whim to get my earlobes pierced a second time.
In October, I got a third lobe piercing in my left ear. A month later, I got my first tattoo.
It's my grandmother's signature. She raised me, and now she is dying of cancer that started in her pancreas and is now in her liver and all that other awesome stuff.
The first tattoo was addicting. I couldn't WAIT to get another. I've got a whole list of them I plan on getting sometime in the future.
Yesterday, as I said, I got my seventh piercing (a daith in the right ear. Look it up. I didn't choose it; I kinda told my piercer to surprise me.) and my second tattoo.
For the uninformed reading, it's a yin yang with the symbols of the Rebellion and the Empire from Star Wars. My brother has the same symbols tattooed on his forearms. We're a cute, nerdy family.
My mother has 11 tattoos. My brother has three. My grandmother has three. My grandfather has one. Of the family I am aware of, every member has at least one tattoo, though my uncle has several more. I was the last member of my immediate family to get a tattoo. No one ever thought I would go through with it, myself included. I've never been known for having a great pain threshold. But I did it, twice now, without crying OR going into shock OR passing out. I did sweat like a metaphorical pig yesterday, though. It was kind of gross.
Anyway, onto the point. My fiance hates tattoos and piercings. Though he says he isn't mad that I have them, he gets kind of moody and sullen about it, like he is disappointed with me. Tattoos, however, are a part of my family. Some of my earliest memories with my mother are of her getting tattoos, and me being afraid to look at the needles, and the artist giving me some temporary tattoos so I could be "just like mom."
Aside from the deep, personal meanings I associate with my two tattoos, and all of the ones I have planned for the future, my relatively new obsession with needles has even deeper significance for me.
I am not a healthy person. Genetics have been against me my whole life. I live every day in considerable pain. I have suffered from chronic headaches since I was a child. When I was seven, I fell from a hayloft and injured my back, which turned into mild scoliosis, which has now turned into spinal stenosis. That causes me lower back pain along with severe sciatica in my left leg. I suffer from TMJ which causes severe inner ear and jaw pain. Most recently, I have been having troubles with my gallbladder, which my doctor thinks I am going to need removed. Back before I was on birth control, my monthly periods were so taxing and painful that I missed at least a week of school every month. I suffer from clinical depression and bipolar disorder, both which cause body aches.
I am not in very good control of my pain, though I have tried. I have done physical therapy for my spinal stenosis. Taken opiods for my sciatica, an NSAID for my TMJ. Over the counter, therapeutic, you name it, I've tried it. A lot of my pain comes from sources that have no good reason, and can't be seen. My pain controls me, and I hate it.
With tattoos and piercings, I am in control of the pain. I can give it meaning, and look at it and say, "Okay, I hurt, and here is where it hurts, and this is why." And other people can see it, and understand that it is pain. Just because I am in control of it doesn't mean it's not real. But it is a release of a little bit of stress. It's amazing how controlling just a little bit of something makes the rest of it easier to bear.