Friday, January 27, 2006

Body Branding and Piercing

A couple of months ago I decided to get my nose re-pierced. I originally got it done when I was out in California years ago; I got it done in one of the malls. It was pretty common practice for these folks to pierce your nose with the same sort of gun that they used to do your ears and I didn't know of any reasons why that might not be a good idea so I just went with it. I was young and on my own for the first time and just pining for an opportunity to express my individuality. Even though I had this big, bulky stud in my nose, it was absolutely beautiful to me. I think it was because of what it stood for, not that I understood exactly what that was then.

Growing up I remember being called a heifer, a slut, and a b**** almost as often as I was referred to by my name. I am simply not in the mood for speculating why this was the case. It just was. Now I can see how the feelings that environment evoked led me to feel motivated to repeatedly behave in ways that seemed unrelated back then.

Heifers and sluts are to be used. Is it any wonder that I went through much of my life letting others use me? Where was I supposed to get any message that contradicted the self-image that I acquired? My mother worked hard to keep a roof over our head after my parents divorced. All of my cousins were younger than me so none of my aunts had any experience with helping a girl through the rough years.

I didn't willingly accept the labels affixed to me by others. I kept my virginity all through school in the hopes that maybe it would make my mother see that she was wrong about me. It didn't work and when I realized that, I lost my virginity to the boyfriend who showed me the praise that I had sought to find at home. I'm still regretting that move but you can't un-ring a bell once it's been shaken, can you?

I attempted suicide several times over the years and very nearly succeeded a few times. I know that it may sound selfish for a mother to try and kill herself and perhaps it was selfish. All I can do is explain what I did; Even now others are free to stick more labels on me if it makes them feel better, I suppose. Having my daughter is the best thing that ever happened to me but being pregnant reinforced the feeling that I really didn't belong to me. I was carrying a baby so now I had to do everything for her. If I had been healthy emotionally, this wouldn't have been a problem because being pregnant is one of the few times in your life where putting someone else's needs over your own is justifiable even if you may never get anything in return for your efforts. Even though I was a mess inside, I did what I was supposed to do. I ate a healthy diet. I exercised. I never missed a doctor's appointment and along with all of that, I began to hate myself even more.

During all of this I was also suffering from Lupus but that wasn't diagnosed until I was an adult. The doctors say that depression is a symptom of Lupus, so it's no surprise that I exhibited it. Furthermore, the fact that it took so many years for them to get to the bottom of what was going on with my immune system also makes it pretty understandable for a person to experience depression. When you are told that you're just lazy/playing sick/attention-seeking, it's hard to refute without a real diagnosis.

Having a name for my illness was great but it also added to my other problems. Suddenly, I "belonged to" my disease but I became determined to fight it to the end. Shortly after that I went to California. Piercing my nose was my way of branding myself, except the owner wasn't a boy or a family member or a religion or even a baby. My body was mine even if only for a little while.


Breez said...

I can relate to feeling that you don't belong to yourself. When I initially came to Maryland, I would not go out because I felt guilty having a good time while my kids weren't with me. I think that's why I spend time craving a relationship and rebelling against the very idea of one. "Belonging" is all I know, but I enjoy being Breez.

blackcaesar said...

intense post with very real feelings....
yes, I am all in the archives.LoL.
I can relate all too well. I have brands tatoos and have had piercings in the name of self affirmation. you have lots of flavor. I am saddened that your people couldn't recognize. I wish you the best with your illness; who really is without ill though? if you respond to this... please email me... i find the topic intriguing. I hate word verification.

G Bitch said...

i relate so much to this post and know what you are saying (and know once again why i like visiting your blog). i got my first tattoos feeling as if i were taking repossession of my body, marking it as Mine and not Someone Else's. as a mother/woman who has struggled with depression and suicidal ideation, i feel ya.