Tattoo 2.0

After waiting nearly 6 months, I felt it was time to finish up my tattoo from May.  While ‘done’ in one sense, having finished what was begun the first time around, both Paul and I knew I had a little more I wanted wrapped up once it had healed.  As you may recall, after sitting for nearly 5 hours for the initial side piece, I pretty much hit a point where Paul said we needed to be done. My body was going into shock and he was hungry.

So the vine didn’t climb as high as it was originally intended to climb, and the hummingbird (which happened to be the last thing he did, and the most painful) was somewhat simply set because I was shaking and cursing too much to allow any sort of detail to occur.

Last Thursday I went in to get the thing finished and found the whole experience vastly different from the first time around.

First of all, once you get inked, you seem to get this idea in your mind that the process isn’t painful.   Maybe it’s sort of like the way moms seem to forget how much childbirth hurts once they see their baby for the first time.  A year later they conceive a second child in pure ignorance, only to have the memory of the first come charging back to them whilst lying in the delivery room shouting ‘what in the *bleep* ever made me forget how *bleeping* much this *bleeping* huuuuurrrrrttts!!”

I can’t really say, I’m not a mom.  But can I just say, this seems like a very nasty to trick to play on someone. Very.

So anyway, that is how I went in the second time,  with sort of a devil-may-care, whats to worry about, la de da and ho-hum state of mind.  If fact, I was so relaxed I fell asleep in the waiting room while Paul was prepping the room for me.

“Are you asleep Jen? Good NIGHT, when you relax you really relax”

“Oh, I suppose I did fall asleep…haha”

“Well, I’ll wake you up right quick”

This he says a big, mischievous grin, and for a moment I feel a bit nervous.

Did it hurt last time?  I can’t really remember. Nah, if I did squirm at all I was just being a baby, I’ll be fine.

These are the lies I tell myself as I get prepped and lie down on the table.  Paul hands me the remote and tells me to choose a movie to watch on their new flatscreen TV.  I am pleased to discover Hunger Games as one of the options, since a good friend has recently recommended I watch it and I am rather curious about it.

Soon thereafter he begins.  Ouch. Hmmm.   OUCH.  This is not how I remember this going….something is wrong.

Paul asks if I’m alright, based on the number of times I’ve jumped as he’s touched the needle to my skin.  I tell him it’s a much sharper pain than what I remember, and he proceeds to explain that this is fairly typical, and that it often does hurt more after the first time.  This occurs for a number of reasons, all of which he’s decided to tell me about after he’s begun and not before.  Strategic, I must say.

Factors that may increase pain involve one or all of the following:

-Just getting over an illness and being in a weak state physically (not applicable)

-Getting hammered the night before and attempting to get inked while hungover and already deprived of B12 (not applicable)

-Being too relaxed prior to getting your tattoo.

What now?

Yeah, so I guess because the first time around you tend to go in pretty pumped up and ready for anything, the pain is bearable.  However, if you go in (like I did) half asleep, you may be ‘woken up’ in a not-so-pleasant manner.  Also, he said there was likely still scar tissue from May, which would also increase the level of pain.

So that explains that.  It’s funny, but I find that when you have an explanation for something (even internal pain) it makes embracing it that much easier. There is something unnerving about suffering in darkness, or for no known reason.

Once he explained that to me, I was able to bear it much more graciously, and found myself very absorbed in the movie.  When he saw me starting to really struggle through the pain, Paul asked about my story, and why I had done this piece in the first place.  Having no where else to hide and needing to say something, I told him my story, and in doing so found the effects extremely therapeutic.  When he asked why I’d never told him before, I admitted that I rarely tell anyone.

“Jen, you tell your tattoo artist everything. That’s just how it is”

I suppose he’s right. Especially when he’s dragging a burning needle across your skin and asking you questions.  You tell him whatever he damn well wants to know.

Once the touch up on my side was done, he moved to my wrist to do a Latin script I’ve been wanting for some time.

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In English it reads, ‘it is through scars I love’, which for me has three separate meanings and is quite significant.  Comparatively, this one didn’t hurt at all, and I was able to finish Hunger Games with hardly a thought about the fact that I was still getting inked. This fact alone felt meaningful for me as well, for deep personal reasons, and was the highlight of the experience.

By the time he was finished, most of the other artists were watching the movie with me, and Paul told me to stay so I could see the end.  It’s a good thing he did, I might have had to stop and rent it on my way home otherwise.

The finished side piece makes me smile, and it’s healing nicely. I have no intention of getting any more tattoos from this point on, as I’ve said what I needed to say for my own purposes.  Not to say that couldn’t change, but I imagine it won’t.  In closing, I am very glad I did this and have found the process incredibly helpful to my own heart’s healing.

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