Friday, September 30, 2011

La Weirdo De Brooklyn

On Sunday I did a bit of impulse shopping and got myself a(nother) tattoo. Nothing special, just went to The Village and got some ink on my way home from hanging out with friends. Signed the release form, paid in cash and went downstairs to wait for my tattoo artist to set up the space.

When he put my arm on the stool and began to pierce my skin, something weird happened; my arm felt funny. Not so much because I was allowing someone to stab me repeatedly with a tiny ink-filled needle because pain I'm used to. My entire existence is about pain in some capacity. It's old hat.

This was an uncomfortable tingling in my elbow, sending a message to my brain to GET US OUT OF HERE. My breathing started to become difficult and I had to quietly talk myself down of the ledge in my head. "Everything is okay. We were just getting a tattoo. We've been here before, Raquel, relax."

Normally I don't watch while I get inked because (surprise, surprise) I hate needles (serious side eye at the irony of it all), but I forced myself to watch him etch the Sanskrit characters on my forearm and that's when I realized why I felt so wrong.

He was sort of holding my hand. There wasn't a need to call the SVU detectives- he was strictly holding my arm still, pulling the skin taut at times, to make sure the lines were straight. He was just doing his job.

The problem here, it seems, is that I've become so unaccustomed to being touched that I've actually developed a real aversion to it. There was a person of the opposite sex TOUCHING ME and it was making me so uncomfortable it triggered an adrenalized FLIGHT reaction in me. Once I realized what was happening I took some deep breaths and told myself "He's just doing his job, Raquel. You're going to be okay."

I can laugh about it now that it's over (and yeah, you can go ahead and laugh, too) but at the time a sudden sadness overcame me. My body, my skin, has forgotten how nice a caress can be. It's been THAT long that a tattoo artist gently grabbing my hand to steady my arm could baffle me so. I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING. Isn't that horrible? I've closed myself off so much that my body has taken to rejecting any random form of touch.

In the middle of it all the artist looked up at me, must have noticed the terror in my eyes and asked, "Are you okay? Does it hurt?" Yes, it hurt to think I could be losing my capacity to enjoy human touch. It hurt to think that I've never enjoyed hugs from anyone but my kids, and even then I struggled with accepting it after they'd reached a certain age. And yes, it hurt to know that with every day that passes my heart is turning more and more into stone, that only the people I love right now will continue to be loved by me and no one else will be able to fit.

But how do you lay that burden down on the guy holding a sharp object millimeters from your skin?

"I'm okay," I lied. "It's just me being weird."

*smooches...not sure what to make of all this*
certainly I'm not looking to indulge in random hook-ups again but still, there must be a happy medium somewhere...or a 12-step program...or a Wizard to give me a new heart...