I said the other day that I’d changed something.
I didn’t use piercings as anything other than self-harm by proxy. It wasn’t to be cool. It wasn’t because I had a metal fetish. It wasn’t because I wanted to look ‘hard’. I used them to hurt – sticking pins into your flesh is not though well of. Having a guy shove a fat sharp needle through my flesh in various parts of my body was okay by most – and not seen as self-harm. So there was the aspect of hurting and continuing to hurt (tried stretching nipple piercings ? Ouchy). There was also another aspect, a deeper aspect which influenced the visible piercings – that of appearance. I wanted to look – and this word is woefully inadequate for this context – unattractive. I used to say that even on the busiest days in the city I always had a clear route through because people would get out of my way – 6 foot tall bloke, jeans, white t-shirt, shaved head, glinting steel, not smiling ..yep, I can see why. Underneath of course I was different but to the vast majority of people I was someone to stay away from. I liked that. A lot. Constantly being followed by security staff in stores got a bit tiring though. So I looked hostile, unattractive. This was a Good Thing because it reflected what I felt and how I felt. I said above I didn’t do it to look ‘hard’ – I didn’t. The hostile look was what I wanted – the fact others thought I was hard was a bonus (?) but it wasn’t my motivation. There’s a difference between hostile and hard to me.
So from 1991/2 when I got my first piercing up to about 18 months ago when I got my last and well in excess of 50 piercings overall (I pierced my right nipple vertically you know…. and I can see the wincing from here :) ) I did them all for negative reasons. Very negative destructive reasons. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I’ve changed.
A combination of life events, stopping drinking, the right meds, stability and also a lot of inner thought has made me realise that I wanted to change. Also key to this change was that I started disliking the way strangers were reacting to me. With the metal, I became visible, an object to be stared at (when we went around IKEA some weeks ago it was horrible to be stared at the way I was. 5 years ago I’d not have cared less) and something in me was starting to say “but I’m not like that any more”. I’m not saying that behind the metal I was an adonis, or that if I removed it then the all ladies would start throwing themselves at me (two at a time please girls ;) ) but I was a significantly different person whose deliberate chosen looks did not match the persona I was giving off. I wanted to remove the openly negative reactions. I wanted to fade back into the crowd. I wanted to be more like me. So I removed the three most prominent bits of metal from my lip. The labrets have all gone. In the image you can see here (I forgot to resize it. It’s huge) there have been changes. Those 3 steel items through my lip have gone. My tongue is also back down to 1.6mm from the 8mm it was there. My lobes are bigger though. And my hair is brown and not purple and spiky. If I don’t pull that face, people don’t recoil from me. That’s good. It’s good because the underlying anger has gone. I don’t hate the world any more. I don’t hate me any more. When you look as I did and you are angry at everything and you want people to ‘get the f*ck out of my way’ then such an appearance becomes self-reinforcing because they do get out the way, that is good, so I look good so I’ll keep it this way. But when the anger goes …. doesn’t work. Not for me.
Other metal has also gone. It’s gone not because others will see but because it doesn’t do what it did (no, not that one ….). It does not reflect me. It reminds me if anything of a chapter in my life which is closing. Tattooing is a different thing and much much more personal. It has meaning and depth so I don’t see that as self-harm by proxy. Tattoos are from me, to me. Piercings were from me, to you. There may well be reactions to those, but they’ll be different. Society seems to have a different attitude to face altering – or maybe that’s just my experience. Whatever, I’ve moved on. I took them out the other day and since then it’s felt right.
I’m more like me now :)