I have wanted to get my nose pierced for years. It isn’t a decision that I came to lightly; it’s something that I have toyed with for quite some time. I’m a firm believer that if I do something like this, it’s forever. It’s a commitment, and I was ready to make it. I’ve been ready. Nearly five years ago, I got a fake nose ring and wore it around for a while. Until my ex made me take it out. Which I did readily, because I belonged to him. It was his choice.
“Why would you want to do that?” My husband stared at the box of hair dye in my hand. “It’s going to look ridiculous.”
I set it down on the counter and stared into the sink. The first time I dyed my hair, I was thirteen years old and the color was an awesome shade of red. I’ve been coloring it ever since; I wouldn’t know my natural color from Adam. And every time something major happened in my life, I changed the color. Something major had happened; I was changing the color. I was changing me.
“Because I can,” I replied finally. “Because it’s better than shaving my head.”
He blinked slowly. “I don’t like it. It’s so…it’s almost purple.” He swept the box into the trash can. “Next time, you need to ask me before you buy this crap.”
He was never one for letting me make my own decisions.
My first experience with body modification post-divorce was getting my tattoo. My ex would never have allowed such a thing. I swore (though am considering caving) that I would only get one. My tattoo has significance, it isn’t just something pretty that I painted on my body.
I did it to honor my son. He’s not here anymore, though I suppose that’s not an accurate statement. He was never actually here. He died prior to birth. But I have nothing of him. I don’t have the locks of his hair. I don’t have his ashes. I don’t have his things. I have a hospital bracelet and a hat that was donated by the angel group at the hospital, but that’s it. During the divorce, my ex took everything.
I tattooed my son’s name on my body because I needed a part of him to hold on to. I wanted people to see it and think, even if they have no idea what the tattoo means. I wanted something that I could touch, something that would show the world that he had been real. He was a person.
I wanted a part of him that belonged to me and no one else.
I was scared shitless; I have never experienced anything like the process of getting a tattoo before. I passed out in the tattoo chair. The artist told me that this happens to a lot of people the first time that they get a tattoo. There is a huge buildup of energy and adrenaline in anticipation of getting inked, and then when you sit down in the chair, there’s no place for it to go. This makes a logical sense, but I’m not sure it was the case for me. I think that, for me, it was more my body not knowing how to handle me being brave for the first time in my life. I was scared, but I was going through with it anyway. My body didn’t know how to process me overcoming my fear.
I got my tattoo for a reason. I got it not only to get over my fear of the unknown, but to have a piece of my son to hold onto. I got it because it was the only choice I could make.
My husband stood behind me, taking up the space in the mirror above my shoulder. “I like it when you curl your hair.”
I kept sticking in the pins I was putting in, shoving my hair into a messy bun.
“I like it curly better than when you put it up. You should curl it for church today.” He phrased the last part as more of a demand than a suggestion.
I began to pull the pins out of my hair. “We’re going to be late.”
“But you’ll look beautiful. And all for me.”
People keep asking me why I chose to get my nose pierced today. It wasn’t about being pretty, or doing something cool or fun because so many of my friends have nose rings. While it is pretty, and many of my friends do have this piercing, it was never about those things. It was about overcoming a fear, about leaving a mark that I no longer belong to him. I can make my own choice, a choice that I have let him and others stop me from making in the past. I was scared today. I practically mauled E’s hand when they stuck the piercing in. But I did it. I did it for myself. It is a symbol of me being my own person, as well as me letting go of him, in ways that many people will never understand. I refuse to justify it, because I made a decision for myself and it is one that I will happily live with.
I can keep in my nose ring if I choose to do so. And I definitely choose to do so.