tattoos

Ink, A Drug

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I am heavily tattooed.

backtats

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.

bobby-pin-tat

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.

stars-tat

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.

leg tat bath.jpg

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.

6 Comments

  1. Debbiedoesinsta

    December 3, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    I got my first tattoo at age 48. My daughter, niece and I got matching ones. They are special, have strong meaning behind them and I couldn’t give a f$@k what others say about them!! Your ink is beautiful and you are as well!

    • AS

      December 5, 2016 at 3:34 am

      That’s fantastic! It sounds like that is one bad-ass tattoo, and you are amazing and brave for getting it done 🙂
      Thank you!!

  2. Colva

    December 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I started getting tattooed at 18, after a similar childhood love affair with skin doodles. Some of them I love more than others (they’ve gotten bigger, better, and more expensive as I’ve gotten older) some of them I wouldn’t get if I did it now, but they’re part of my story. My favorites are the ones that have allowed me to reclaim “unsightly” parts of my body, full sleeves mean I never shy away from sleeveless shirts and a big pink squid means I frequently wear shorter skirts that I “should”. Tattoos create a special relationship between the owner and their skin.

    • AS

      December 5, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      I absolutely agree! I was actually planning on writing about that, especially because I feel the exact same way about my arms and thighs. I absolutely agree.

  3. theraelynx

    December 6, 2016 at 1:32 am

    Like I told my mother, when I’m struggling, getting a new tattoo always makes me feel like a badass again. As always, I love everything you do.

  4. claudia

    December 27, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m a wuss when it comes to needles but I’ve gotten tattoos at meaningful times in my life when I felt like I needed something, a reminder, to commemorate something or to feel something other than my own emotional pain. I only have a few but they mean a lot to me

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