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Under the Ink

When I was twenty I got permission from my mother to get a small tattoo.  As the years passed one tattoo became six, and I became the most heavily tattooed woman in my family.

I must have been naive, as I never imagined some of the rude comments my small collection of flower tattoos would invite. “Did you get those in prison? I thought you were a nice girl. You know what I think when I see tattoos? Loose woman.” For the record, I’ve yet to serve time, I’m pretty nice, and have never been promiscuous. Those experiences ,while insulting, taught me not to judge harshly without knowing someone’s story. Those who made such comments surely didn’t know mine.

It was during the long aftermath of a childhood trauma that I started  getting tattoos.   I  wanted people to look at my tattoos, not me. I wanted to appear tough; tough people always had tattoos. I wanted to be covered in the likeness of flowers to associate myself with something pure,beautiful,and whole, because often I felt anything but.

Unfortunately, my tattoos did nothing more than induce a temporary high.  So much inside me remained broken until I reached out, surveyed the damage, and began the healing process.

I’m presently in the chapter of my story where I wish more than ever to erase my tattoos. They don’t reflect the progress, growth, or healing I’ve accomplished. My tattoos  serve as reminders of my former state of mind. Each time I walked into a tattoo shop, I did so from a place of pain. 

Perhaps that’s  the worst part about my tattoos, they’ve left me branded with pieces of my past of which I’m  no longer associated. When I see them, I remember a version of myself who was hurt, damaged, and filled with anger.  I see denial, fear, a young woman who had little  hope for her future, and struggled  to  love and accept love. I hear a young girl saying,”I’m not ruined; I’m still good.”  I’ve evolved from that person. It’s he who would hurt another without reason who’s inherently flawed;  it’s never the fault of the one who was harmed.

For the past 19 years, I’ve taken  pride in looking after my well-being with natural foods and other self-care practices. The fact  that I defaced my body feels out of line with who I am, and who I aspire to be.

I have nothing against body art. I’m  in  awe of artists who use their talents to cover scars, restoring physical  beauty to people’s damaged parts. In such cases, I’d strongly encourage someone to consider a tattoo. Tattoos,however, are incapable of fixing inner turmoil.

Although I regret my tattoos, flowers will always maintain a certain significance in my life. When nurtured correctly, even those flowers that have been crushed, will rise again as if unspoiled by the past.

I’m unsure what I’m going to do about these tattoos.  Will I get them lasered away,constantly cover them with clothing, or allow them to serve as a reminder of  the contrast between the broken child I once was, and the renewed woman I’m slowly becoming? Only time will tell. What’s most important is that under the ink, now exists a person who’s realized her worth was never lost.

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