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Ink, A Drug

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I am heavily tattooed.

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When I was little, I used to steal the Sharpies (which were hidden after an unfortunate accident involving a Magnum Sharpie and my little brother’s face) and draw little icons and words on my wrists and ankles. Doodling on my skin happened constantly, until I got my first tattoo at 21.

And it fucking sucked.

The shop was creepy, the artist a total asshole, and the tattoo wasn’t what I wanted. It scarred unevenly, hurt like a bitch, and bled obscenely. I never wanted another.

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Three years later, my life was a mess. I was recently divorced and dealing with a terrible new boyfriend, trying to keep my shit together during the holidays, and swimming through the early waves of what would become the worst depression I had ever faced. I had managed to barely survive my first ever panic attack, and I needed to feel in control.

Control over the racing heart. Control over the difficulty breathing. Control over the never-ending thoughts of self-hatred. Control over the dark and swampy fog that seemed to be filling my brain a little bit more every day.

I needed something reckless, but not too reckless, because I’m also a wuss. Something that was mine, only mine, and no one else could touch. So I Yelped tattoo parlors near my house, found a shop a mile away with 4 1/2 stars and some grammatically correct positive reviews, and got into my car. I didn’t tell anybody where I was going or what I was doing. It still hurt like a fucking bitch, but the experience was pleasant, and I had something small and personal to remind me of me.

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I’ve collected a lot more ink since then, but each one is still the same experience: a small reclaiming of myself.

My art is a reminder that I am me. Every piece is something beautiful and creative that I look at and love, which means my body has become something beautiful and creative that I look at and love.

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A lot of my tattoos get negative responses. Some people don’t understand, make assumptions about what type of person I am, or out right tell me they don’t like something. This is essentially making the same commentary on me as a person, because I am my tattoos. They are extensions of my mind placed on view; my inner workings permanently painted externally for all the see.

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But even if I’m garnering dirty looks or snide comments, zero fucks are given, because I’ve found a way to take hold of my personality and express it in a physically beautiful and colorful way that makes me smile every single time I look in a mirror.

And that is worth every scratch of the tattoo machine.

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