Ink of My Life

Want to know what’s important to me? Just look at my arm, my shoulder and my feet.

Each piece of artwork painfully adorned on my body tells the world a secret. It’s been my way to tell the world about my struggles and my fears without whispering a word. Every time someone compliments my arm piece or asks if my foot tattoo hurt- it validates something in me. I’ve made it through hard situations and come out with something beautiful, just like getting new ink.

I’m getting the tattoo itch- not the one from fresh ink, but the one where it’s been a little too long since the latest and I have new life monuments to commemorate. It’s worse than a mosquito bite to be honest and those I can’t remove the itch to save my life! It takes me months to dream up each piece, most of the time… my first tattoo only took me 5 minutes, but that’s also meaningful in itself.

My most recent tattoo expresses my freedom and my journey to break out of my cocoon. For a very long time, I didn’t understand that I could take action to combat my anxiety and depression- so I stayed wrapped up in a cocoon. Surrounded by all things that made me feel safe and in control, I barely was living life. Not participating in things solely because I didn’t know about them in advanced… not a way to live. A black and white floral arrow adorns my left forearm telling stories of last minute adventures and leaps of faith. It represents the reality of living with anxiety with the arrow. An arrow must be drug backwards in the bow, sometimes with great struggle, to be shot forward towards its target. And if you have ever shot a bow and arrow before, yes- that’s on my have done list, it’s terrifying to pull that tightly strung string back right up next to your cheek only to just let it go. Similar to pulling those anxieties close where they could really do some damage and trusting yourself to just let them go.

I have tattoos in remembrance of a grandmother, one who taught me perseverance, laughter and strength. I have tattoos celebrating the other strong women in my family- my mom and my sister. And another to celebrate the unbreakable bond that holds our family together. Another piece of ink tells a story of taking the first step to break free from abusive relationships. And finally there is the one that took me five minutes to pick- the outline of a heart- in a hidden spot, received the day I turned 18. It wasn’t exactly my rebellious act against my parents, but more of an act to show I’m stronger than I seem and realize sometimes.

It’s been quite a while since I was last in a tattoo chair, wincing with addictive pain. And since that last visit, I have accomplished one of the most impossible goals I set for myself with pure determination. It’s not the monument of purchasing a home that I necessarily want to celebrate, but instead the action of working so incredibly hard to accomplish what I swore was impossible. It deserves a spot on the ink wall of fame. So now the journey begins of dreaming up the perfect art to salute the battle that was won. It must speak without explanation and tell a story for me. And in true left arm fashion, it must be in black and white.

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