Sometimes Pain is a Good Thing

I wimped out during childbirth. I have no problems admitting this as I was 20 years old and freaked out by the thought of squeezing a human being through my delicate and once virginal cooter.

By wimped out I mean I had a full fledged panic attack. I cried, I whined, I hyperventilated. Besides the blissful and relaxing feeling of being torn in half by contractions (such an understated word. It should be something more like Anaconda Death Grip of birth), the back pain alone felt like Jason was stabbing me in the back with a rusty butter knife.

(Nevermind the burning ring of fire which makes one feel like someone shoved a flaming torch up one's crotch.)

I was out of my element and fearing each natural progressive step in the stages of labour and childbirth. Just when I seemed to acclimate to one subset of pain, the bar was raised and my threshold was pushed past it's admittedly puny limitations. I was the ultimate birthing wimp.

It was the like my very own perfect storm, the trifecta of terror for a young woman who had never gave birth before, who had only had sex a few times in her life and was about ready to become a mother as she was to start dancing on table tops, stripping for money right that very moment.

Yes, I was a big, enormous wimp. So when a maternity nurse casually suggested (and by this I mean grabbed my head between her clammy man-hands and yelled at me to breathe and shut the hell up for a second) I get an epidural, I jumped on that chance like a homeless person does on a lottery ticket.

Sure, have someone I have never met before jam a huge long needle straight into my spine and pump drugs into my body. Sounds a helluva lot more fun than this childbirthing gig. Sign me up.

I pussed out. Emotionally and physically. After a few hours of painful contractions and the mental image of a ten pound watermelon being squeezed through a ten centimeter hole, the choice wasn't all that difficult to me.

Screw natural childbirth and pass me the drugs, please and thank you.

After not one, not two, but three painful deliveries (the last one being drug free because the world is a cruel and merciless place) I thought I would never face pain like that again.

Then Bug died. Suddenly I was in the more pain than if I had to squeeze out a two tonne hiefer through my vajayjay. The emotional and physical pain was overwhelming. I expected mental anguish. I just never expected the physical pain that came along with my grief.

It felt like a weight was pressing down on my shoulders trying to grind me to dust while somebody was constantly stabbing me in the gut and in the heart. Add to this, the worst stress headache imaginable, lack of sleep and apetite and soon every breath you draw in feels like your body might explode into a million tiny shards - all broken fragments of the person you used to be.

This time there was no nurse waiting in the wings to grab my head, shove it between my legs and tell me to man up while she procures body-numbing drugs for me. This time I had to do it on my own.

So I did. There was no choice really. I had two kids and a husband who depended on me to stay sane and upright as they navigated the oceans of mourning alongside me. The pain was unbearable. And seemingly unending.

At times I thought of self-medicating, and if Bug were my only child, I probably would have made a different choice. I'd probably be typing this from rehab after months, years, of sitting on a couch, drooling and looking at the pretty sky while reaching for a half empty bottle of booze.

But Fric and Frac needed me. I needed a clear mind to steer through this tragedy and not inflict any more emotional trauma on them than they had already endured. Eventually, I survived the pain. And while it still lingers, like wisps of smoke after a forest fire, it is no longer the crushing pain it once was.

After surviving that loss, and of course the horror of childbirthing pain, I felt like there was no longer a pain in the world I couldn't shoulder. In fact, after walking through those embers of hell, I didn't really feel anything at all. I was numb.

So I started seeking out ways to feel. Painful ways to feel. I was a hollow shell of my former self, barren of the most basic human emotions. It was right about then I discovered the tattoo and piercing parlour. My new favourite place to relax. Some chicks dig spas and massages. I happened to find serenity in have a huge pointy needle shoved through my skin so I could bedazzle myself like a cheap pair of jeans.

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My third tattoo. And the least painful of the bunch.

It didn't take me long to get past the whole wanting to be poked like a pin cushion. Body modification is intoxicating. Soon I moved onto tattoos. And then another. And then yet another. Each one brought a special mark to my body, a permanency to the fluid emotions swirling around me. Each one was relatively painless.

Which made me want to get another. With my 33 birthday on the horizon, I decided to treat myself to yet another ink spell. Because I have rocks for brains and I enjoy annoying my husband. I'm thoughtful like that.

I sat in that tattoo chair smiling like the stupid rube I am. I was cocky with the belief that this tattoo would be just as easy as all the others.

I was wrong.

Holy mutha of all that is holy!!! Apparently, my grief has receeded and taken my cloak of numbness with it. Picture a rather burly tattoo lady artist with pendulous boobs eyeing my watering eyes suspiciously and asking me every twenty seconds if I wanted to stop and take a break.

I refused to wimp out. I gritted my teeth and nearly died from the hot buzzing needles scratching ink into my tender flesh. Beads of sweat lined my brow like I was running in the desert. I was wishing for a big ole needle to be jammed in my spine to give me drugs, I'll admit it.

I am a pussy.

But I am a pussy with a new tattoo who can once again feel the most basic of human emotions. Pain. Along with a host of other emotions that were once lost to me.

Time really does heal all wounds.

Now if only my damn tattoo would stop itching like crazy.

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One Joy Scatters a Hundred Griefs. Words to live by.

Edited to add: The tattoo is on my right forearm. Does this mean my arms look like legs or my legs look like my arms? Hmmm...