Code Name: Succulent – Navel Gazing

This post is entirely too long – but it would be weird to break it up. So settle in…

Navel GazingExcessive
introspection, self-absorption, or concentration on a single issue.


You might notice I do a lot of this in
these particular posts (or in general, but you’re all nice enough
to ignore that, right?). I try to keep it contained to my own head
most of the time, because really – all that thinking and
self-analyzing is just boring and/or tedious to anyone not actually
doing it. But occasionally my introspection seems to amuse people…

The fact is, we all do it, and I think
it’s healthy to navel gaze every so often, though perhaps not to
excess as defined above. Without truly knowing ourselves and what
makes us tick, how can we ever hope to figure out what makes us
happy?

But that’s actually not what I
planned to talk about this week (amazing how the internet can
facilitate digressions, isn’t it?).

No, I planned to talk about my navel
(ironic, yes?). Specifically, my belly button piercing.

Got your attention now, I bet.

Body modification has never just been
about “fashion” or “trendiness” for me. I’ve always put a
great deal of thought into it before I took the plunge. When I look
back on it, each event signifies a very specific point in my life
when I took a stand, learned something about myself, or wanted to
remind myself about something later in life. Sort of like permanent
strings on my fingers (um, body), or a scrapbook of specific “eras”
of my life.

Obviously this sort of thing isn’t
for everyone, but even though I do have one tattoo that I wish I’d
placed differently, I still can’t bring myself to regret getting
it, even though it no longer holds the same meaning it once did. It’s
still a symbol though – it’s just changed over the years.

Back to my navel (which started this
whole navel-gazing episode). Something you may not know about belly
button piercings is that a hollow needle is used to remove a plug of
skin where the ring will go. If the piercing heals fully, it will
never close up again, even if you take the ring out. What does happen
sometimes though is that sebum (your own skin oil) fills the space
when you remove the ring and creates a little plug, and the ends heal
over. For me, the spot where it healed over after I took my ring out
was very thin, and prone to breaking open when I scraped it with a
zipper or whatever (which, embarrassingly enough though not
surprising, is more likely to happen when my pants are tight). Then
it gets infected, and hurts, and it’s incredibly hard to heal since
it can’t drain properly.

File this under: “things you should
think about when getting a navel ring”. The hole is forever, and so
is the risk of infection (for some of us, anyways).

So last week when once again I knocked
that thin piece of skin open, I decided I may as well just put a ring
back in the hole and let it drain to be sure it heals properly. And
that got me thinking about why I got the piercing in the first place,
and why I eventually took the ring out.

I was 21. I never have been much of a
drinker (even on my birthday, I didn’t really drink much), and I
wanted something to sort of “mark” the occasion besides a
hangover. Navel piercings were popular back then (are they now? I
have no idea. LOL), and I was just sort of discovering my sexuality
then (no, I didn’t “give it up” in high school like so many
teens do). A belly button ring seemed sensual, a way to celebrate
being female and the exploration of my sexuality. I read up on them,
and got all the information about healing and such (because I am not
generally an impulsive person when it comes to large needles), and
finally decided to take the plunge. I made an appointment, got
marked, clamped, and suffered through a moment of intense pain, and
then it was all over. I loved it, even though it was a serious pain
in the butt to get healed (my advice, don’t work as a
lifeguard/swim instructor when trying to heal a navel piercing.
Impossible to keep it truly clean in the pool water).

It made me feel impossibly female, and
more like a desirable creature than I had before. Just knowing it was
there even though I didn’t show it off much changed my awareness of
my own body, and the potential power it held. It made me bolder, and
more apt to go just a little bit further out on those shaky limbs I’d
been scare of before (here’s where mothers everywhere are
forbidding their daughters to get navel rings, right?).

When I took it out over ten years later
(around five years ago?), it was because I’d started gaining
weight. It didn’t look “right” anymore – that look belonged
to someone slender and sexy, and I wasn’t feeling like either of
those things anymore. So I put all my navel jewelry in a drawer, and
let the hole close up as well as it could, leaving my younger, better
body behind with only a scar to remind me of those skinnier days.

Now that I think about it, it seems
like I was punishing myself and giving up at the same time. I was
acknowledging that I probably wouldn’t ever have that skinnier body
back. And I fully admit I still have issues with my weight and my own
sense of sensuality. Contrary to what some might be inclined to
think, it’s not Hollywood either…it’s my own sense that when
I’m overweight, I’m not as healthy as I could or should be, and
that’s not sexy. Healthy is sexy for me – not stick skinny
model-thin, but a healthy, muscular body. It’s less about weight
than it is about fat vs. muscle, in my mind.

And now everyone out there with a few
extra pounds will think I’m judging them…which isn’t true –
my feelings don’t extend outside my own sphere, and I think it’s
perfectly possible for larger women to be beautiful, sexual
creatures. It’s just much harder to embrace that for myself than to
believe that about others, if that makes any sense.

So to get to the point, I’m leaving
my navel ring in, even after the infection has healed again (it’s
doing much better after just a week). For two reasons – one being
to remind me that I don’t have to be slender to be a sensual being,
and the other to remind myself that I shouldn’t give up on my body
– if less fat is what I want, I should work hard to make that
happen. I shouldn’t just settle for a body that doesn’t make me
happy, because in the end, it’s entirely my choice, even though it
is more work now than it used to be.

And that’s what living a succulent
life is all about, right?


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2 comments on “Code Name: Succulent – Navel Gazing

  1. Ardee-ann Eichelmann

    I love this post. I am glad you are feeling more accepting of who you are in ways that you weren’t just a few years back. I hope you enjoy your belly button jewelry again.

    Cheers,

    Ardee-ann

    PS ~ processing out loud is not boring to others, it helps us to develop new insights about each other.

  2. Danielle

    I’m glad you decided to put it back in! I was also 21 when I got my bellybutton pierced, and I had it for 6 years. I felt the same way you’ve described – I was much more of a woman with it in. It made me feel like less of a kid, and more of a real person who could make her own decisions about her body. I’d love to have it back actually. Maybe I’ll look into getting it re-pierced…

    Yet another way you’re an inspiration!