My Life As A Horror Story: Ear Piercing Adventures

Content Warning: This is a true story, but it is also a horror story. There will be blood.

It’s been exactly one week since my newest piecing. A double helix in the cartilage of my left ear. And it’s been 17 years since I last got my ears pierced. I was 14 then, and that wasn’t even the first time.

My 7th birthday was the day that started it all. My uncle sent me a small, pearl necklace that came in a plush, grey case and was accompanied by pearl earrings with gold posts. Sitting at the kitchen table, working my way through my gifts, I begged my mom to let me get my ears pierced. “When you turn 12,” she said.

Each birthday after that became a countdown to that all important birthday. I waited 5 agonizing years, marveling at my friends and classmates who were lucky enough to already have their ears pierced. My 12th birthday couldn’t come soon enough.

By now, we’ve all heard the stories. We know the many, many reasons why you should never get your ears pierced at Claire’s. But the internet wasn’t as prevalent in 2003 as it is today. So many children like myself got their ears pierced at the mall that my mom thought she was doing the right thing. How could she have known things would go so horribly wrong?

The employees at Claire’s gave me that branded teddy bear to hold in case I was afraid. Sure I was nervous, but not afraid. One of my earliest childhood memories is of being in the hospital, watching as the doctor hunted for broken glass in a gash in my leg after an accident. The piercing gun didn’t scare me at all. But it should have.

I closed my eyes just in case. Or maybe it was simply because the “piercer” suggested it to me.

There isn’t a particular feeling or sensation that has remained in my memory from that day. Just the sound of the crunch as the gun pierced my flesh. But everything went well – or so I thought – and I left with two little 14k gold balls in my ear lobes. I couldn’t wait to start wearing all of the earrings I had collected leading up to this moment.

But the day I first changed my earrings was a day of pain. Even though I did everything I was supposed to when it came to aftercare instructions, my ears did not heal properly. Whenever I changed earrings, I was in excruciating pain. Blood and pus oozed continuously from my lobes.

After a year of this, it was time to go to the doctor. She said I was allergic to gold. And worst of all, she said I would need to let the holes close up and wait at least a year before I tried getting pierced again. My precious collection of unwearable earrings was locked away as I began yet another countdown.

At age 14, my mom and grandmother took me shopping in that same mall to buy makeup and a fancy dress for a high school function. When we swung by the Claire’s, mom asked me if I wanted to try getting my ears pierced again. I said yes.

This time, I closed my eyes because I was genuinely scared something would go wrong again. I squeezed the branded teddy bear as that familiar crunch tormented me once more. But this time, my earrings were stainless steel with little crystals in them. They matched my new dress.

And that was that. I took care of my new (redone) piercings and changed into cute, gold-free earrings when I was able. But the fear remained. Throughout high school and university, when I saw friends and co-workers get new piercings – piercings that were not in the lobe – I wondered how they could do that to themselves. I liked the look of it all, but I couldn’t fathom ever putting myself through that. Not again.

Now I’m 31 and things are different. I know all the reasons why you should never go to Claire’s for a piercing. I know that it’s safer to see a professional at a tattoo studio. But that didn’t mean I was ever going to get another piercing. No way.

But then came @gemmedbyjen, a professional ear piercer who made me feel comfortable enough to maybe consider getting another piercing. But just one. And it was a big maybe. Until she told me she could give me a star AND a crescent moon, and that she could anodize them so that I could have custom colours. Damn her, she discovered my weakness! And a single helix piercing soon became a double.

Sitting in her room, back straight and hands clasped together, all of that trauma from my youth came rushing back and I felt like a 12 year old child again. But she was calm and gentle, and did her best to put me at ease. She explained each part of the process, and I honestly started to believe that I would be totally okay.

And then it happened. There was no unsanitary piercing gun this time, but that crunch as she pierced my cartilage sure sounded the same. By the time she second crunch echoed through my brain, all of the repressed memories from 15 and 17 years ago had bubbled to the surface. I sat there in shock as she continued her work, skillfully inserting the jewelry. Something damp dripped onto my shoulder, and it took my brain more than a few moments to register that I was bleeding. Jen quickly wiped away any trace that it had ever happened.

When I got up to look at myself in the mirror, I was thrilled with how my ear looked. The shapes and colours are very me, and I’m happy I got it done.

But it’s not over.

I’m a week into the healing process, babying my ear. It’s tough, but when I look at myself in the mirror I don’t have any regrets. But here’s the problem: now that I know I can do it, now that I know it looks good on me, I’m starting to think that maybe I need to get another piercing. Maybe something in my right ear…

Picture’s from Jen’s Instagram stories. Before…
…and after

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