Pleasurable pain

Tattoo of my daughter’s name, ‘Lilia’.  Photo by my friend Shayma Kamel

Last Friday I got my first tattoo.  (I say first because I have a feeling there will be another one at some point in my life).

I’ve wanted one for a while but fear had always prevented me.  I was afraid of the pain.  Afraid of society’s reactions (my parents, Yemeni community, colleagues).  Afraid of the permanency.

Yet when I finally did it, it happened spontaneously and without much thought.  I visited a dear friend’s new art gallery.  About ten minutes after I arrived, a tattoo artist next door came to speak to my friend.  She introduced us and we began talking.  I told him of my desire of getting a tattoo. “So why don’t you do it now?” he smiled.

I didn’t look him up nor his parlor on google.  I didn’t read any reviews.  I didn’t scroll through top 10 lists of things to do before/after getting a tattoo.  Instead, I just followed him back to his store.

As I sat waiting for the needle to pierce my skin, I closed my eyes and bit my lips.  To my surprise, it was a soft tickling pain, endurable and even enjoyable.  My friend asked me if it hurt, “Yes and no,” I smiled. “It’s like eating chocolate from a needle.”

When he finished I was euphoric – probably a result of the endorphins that were released. It’s extraordinary to realize how some pain actually helps us feel pleasure, it might even enhance it.

Once again, my daughter is teaching me strength.

Thank you, Lilia.

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