Friday, July 20, 2007

I've got a dirty little secret, and my dilemma

OK, it's not dirty, but it's not what you would expect from a mommy blogger. Bear with me, folks.

About 4 days ago, my younger brother called me with an idea. Since he and I are flying out to see our sister in less than a month and he will be meeting Marci face to face for the first time, Ben thought that to commemorate the moment, we could all get a tattoo. Marci already has 2, and Ben has at least 5 I think... but me? None. That's not to say that I don't have markings. I have plenty of marks on me but none of them are pretty.

My husband became angry very quickly, he is against tattoos, you see. He thought it was very inappropriate for my younger brother to suggest something like this, and he was angry that I would even tell Ben that I would consider it- despite knowing that he doesn't like them. Later he asked me what kind of example would I be setting for our children, which I really took offense to.

This may sound a bit romantic but since watching Miami Ink (which I love), I have learned that usually there is a reason behind a tattoo. That's not to say that people don't get a tattoo on a whim, or because they saw something pretty they liked. Watching the show and being an artist, I began to appreciate the time, effort and artistic skill these guys put into their work. Almost every client they have wants a tattoo for a reason, usually as a memorial to a lost loved one or to signify an experience that they had that changed their life forever.

And... to be quite honest, I have always wanted a tattoo but I could never think of reason good enough to get one. Most importantly though, I didn't want my husband to think less of me.

Over it's [almost] 38 years, my body has endured marking. I have so many scars that I have stopped counting; each and every scar has a story and a distinct memory attached to it. Some of the memories are horrible, and others bearable.

The marks on my body are not who I am as a person. They don't define me, and they certainly are not boundary markers of who I am and who I could or couldn't be. They simply tell a story of life as it is , and has been up until today.

I have many, many cat scratch scars from the 8 cats that I have owned since being married 18 years ago. Whether kittens or adult cats, all of my cats have given me at least one battle scar.

I have a small scar between my eyebrows from the time I managed to pull the high jump bar down on myself in track. As I jumped over, my foot hooked itself on the bar and eventually the bar came crashing down on my brow, the sheer force of the bar colliding with my skull caused my skin to split open. This scar brings up old resentments because I had finally found something that I loved but my mother refused to let me continue because I had hurt myself. This from the person who hurt me and my body on an almost daily basis... it doesn't make sense to me.

When I feel the pebble that is embedded in my skin just beneath a layer of barely perceptible scar tissue, I don't think of fear so much as a choice to live no matter what the consequences would be. I can recall jumping from that car with clarity as if it had happened yesterday, and though I felt great fear, I decided that jumping from a speeding car would ultimately save my life. My thoughts weren't completely coherent, but when I look back on that day, and on the days that my elbow hurts- in a weird way I look back with an odd fondness. This little pebble of mine reminds me on the days when I don't want to get out of bed that I am a braver human being than I give myself credit for.

I have a mark on my neck... it's fading still but if you look you can see it. Four years ago I had a very large benign mass removed with the right side of my thyroid. I feared for my life while I waited for the results from the preliminary biopsy, and those 2 weeks before I was told I would still have to have surgery to remove the mass was agony. I imagined the worst, that I had cancer, and that I would not live to see my 2 year old Anna grown into adulthood.

In my sk*rt post I explained that you'd "see paths my body traveled- in joy and in pain, through the marks mapped out on my thighs and belly", and I talk about "the scar on my lower belly that bore three children- 2 in life and one that was not meant to be". I also have 3 new scars : One on my right bicep, and two on my right thigh and hip from having lumps removed from body last December.

These marks were not my choosing. I didn't want any of them, and yet here they are. I've had a life time of marks placed on my body, and my life - I hope- is far from over.

After thinking for a night on what image I would want on my body forever- despite knowing that my husband was still very angry about the whole thing- the lotus flower kept coming to my mind. I told my brother and sister about the symbolism behind it and they both love the idea:

In modern times the meaning of a lotus flower tattoo ties into it's religious symbolism and meaning. Most tattoo enthusiast feel that the a lotus tattoo represent life in general. As the lotus flower grows up from the mud into a object of great beauty people also grow and change into something more beautiful . So the symbol represents the struggle of life at its most basic form.

Lotus flower tattoos are also popular for people who have gone through a hard time and are now coming out of it. Like the flower they have been at the bottom in the muddy, yucky dirty bottom of the pond but have risen above this to display an object of beauty or a life of beauty as the case might be. Thus a lotus flower tattoo or blossom can also represent a hard time in life that has been overcome.

After my husband had a whole day away at work, he was able to calm down and see things from my perspective. I told him that even though he doesn't necessarily like tattoos, that I hoped that he could see that this is something that will make me happy and he could be OK with that.

As I showed him the designs I am looking at (and after I chided him for not trusting me earlier that I could pick something that was actually pretty), and after I explained the symbolism behind the lotus, he admitted that me having a tattoo cold be sexy and that he liked what it represents. ;)

Don't get me wrong, it's not set in stone yet- we are still mulling it over.

I would love, just for once, to have a mark put on my body by my own choice. I would love to be reminded daily of the spiritual pact I am making with my brother and sister, and the joy of meeting my sister again after 10 years. I would love to be able to look at this mark and remember all that I have overcome, and see the beautiful flower that I am today.

It's not that I need a tattoo to remind me of all those things, but it would make me very happy.


Karen said...

Not for me. But I do understand why some people decide to do it. I'm just too wimpy! And I'm afraid what the thing would look like when I'm old and wrinkly!

Not So Anonymous Michelle said...

Hey girlie, you know my feelings on it, if it makes you happy I think you should do it. I think there is special meaning there plus a possible bonding experience for your sis & bro. I think you make a great point about putting a mark on your body that you chose.

Did we ever talk about c-sections? It sounds like you had them too, I had one with Emma. When she sees the scar she likes to poke it, say "eeek" with a giggle and I tell her about her starting her life there.

Karen Lynch-Live the Power said...

I think you should get your tattoo. Make it beautiful and remember the good feelings and the reasons for it! I say "go for it". I enjoyed your post and I thought of my own wonderful scar right below the bikini line that brought me my 3 beautiful daughters! That is a scar that I love!!

Carey said...

Very well written. I say pray on it, make sure it is what you really want. Remember, it may be cool now, but waht about in 20 years? Will you still feel the same way? Think about what you liked 20 years ago? Is it the same as it is now? Pray some more, and talk to you family.
If it was me, I wouldnt do it, but im a wimp too, even after having 4 kids.

Jeff said...

My wife and I went through an almost identical situation ten years ago and I felt the same way as your husband. I hope I don't offend anyone here but I've always thought of tattoos as "dirty" for lack of a better word.

I'll skip all the details as to why my wife wanted the tattoo but she came from an abusive background as you did.

We discussed it and I thought about it and ultimatley realized that if it was important to her then it should be important to me. I told her my opinion but that I would support her decision.

I went with her to the tattoo shop and helped her pick it out and held her hand through the whole process (it hurt her a lot more than she thought it would, and she has a high tolerance for pain).

Now I have to admit, I think it's sexy as hell. There are times I catch a glance at it and want to jump her bones.

So she was right and I was wrong. I just asked her if she ever regretted it after all these years. She said nope, as a matter of fact she has a dream to head down to those Miami Ink guys and get them to touch it up and add something!

I hope this helps. If you's like I'll be glad to snap a pic and post it on my blog for ya!

Tee said...

I think tattoos can be really special. I haven't found a reason to have one done either, but I've never ruled it out.

I like all the stories and memories behind my "natural" tattoos, too :)

BTW, just wanted to let you know I'm having a blog contest again.

The prize this time is a kid's prize pack including 3 computer games.

Good luck if you decide to enter!

Mert said...

Thanks guys for your honest opinions! I really appreciate it :D

Karen- I'm looking at a couple of spots that are supposed to remain wrinkle free ;)

Michelle- what would I do without ya!

Karen Lynch- Thanks!

Carey- very good points, and something I have been thiking about... will I still love it when I'm old-errrr LOL! I'm already gray so i can't say old and gray. ;)

Jeff- thanks !

I would love it if you would post a pic of your wife's tatt, that would be very cool. I'm thinking of lower back or ankle... I'm a bit "fluffy" as I like to put it so I have heard that those places won't become distorted when I lose weight. BUT, I also hear that both of those places are extremely painful.

Tee- Thanks, I will check your contest out :)

MotoMom said...

As the proud and unregretful owner of two tatoos (so far) I say if your husband agrees then go for it. You have clearly given it alot of thought and the symbolism behind your choice of design is beautiful.
There are definintly some things to consider...yes, it does hurt but some areas hurt worse than others. In considering placement I chose areas that could be covered if desired and would not be prone to stretching or sagging. (upper back and lower leg, since you already know what design you like search the internet for flash or bring in a picture of what you would like for the artist to work from. Also, for many tatoos are addictive.
Good luck!

Virginia, like the state! said...

Hmm...I'm a wuss when it comes to pain--even if it's for a good cause (God help me-and the people in the room within choking distance-during child-birth!).

I think the tattoo is a nice sentiment and if you really want it, you know yourself well enough to make that decision. Good luck! :)

Holly Schwendiman said...

What an interesting discussion! I think there's a noteable and important difference between the reasons for doing it. Sounds like you've put a lot of thought into it.


Mommy the Maid said...

I love tattoos. I have 5 myself with plans for more. I think that tattoos are a great way to express yourself as long as you are doing it for yourself. Each one of my tattoos has a story behind it. The one on my arm has changed it's story based on the person who bought it for me and it means even more to me now than it did then.

It is obvious that this decision is your decision and the flower would represent you well. I say go for it.

Jenny Ryan said...

Rock on, grrlfriend! Way to reclaim and love your body as your own:)

And kudos to your fellow as well for his support.

leisa said...

My husband and I are keen on matching tattoos, loved reading your analysis of why - really thoughtful. I love it when people think deeply about stuff :)

Jenster said...

Great post. I, too, have scars all over my body - including a c-section (or hysterectomy from two weeks ago) and where I had the right side of my thyroid removed 18 years ago for the same reason. (spooky).

I've been toying with the idea of getting a pink ribbon tattoo on the inside of my ankle for the last two years, but I hesitate because will that define me? I mean, yeah, I'm a breast cancer survivor, but I'm so much more than that.

So now you've got me thinking again...

BTW - I hope you don't mind, but I not only posted the Frisk the 15th banner, I also linked to your blog.

Mert said...

Thank you so much everyone! I had JUST typed out a reply addressing you guys and blogger ate it. Really, I was worried that i would lose readers over this and the fact that I have had such positive comments about all of this really warms my heart :D

Jenster- I think you decision is a tough one. I didn't want my tatt to define who I was as a victim, but what i have become... so if your tattoo makes you feel good about what you have been through and is a positive reminder of what you have survived, i say wear it like a badge of honor.

And I am just thrilled that you linked back to my blog, thank you very much!

Mari said...

I love the lotus idea. I think that you should get the tattoo.
Obviously, I don't think that you should go against your husband, but I think he has changed his mind, right?

I have a daisy-chain tattoo on my toe-it looks like a toe-ring. I absolutely love it. I can't think of another tattoo, but I'd consider getting one if I thought of a cool one with a cool place.

Of course, I have a nose ring too, so I'm quite the wild one. Maybe you shouldn't take advise from me!!

Janie Hickok Siess, Esq. said...

You should do what feels right to you. I can understand your reasons and I think the symbolism is extremely meaningful.

I appreciate your husband's perspective, too.

For my $, I would have to get a tattoo somewhere no one saw it. In my profession, it just wouldn't do to have it anywhere I couldn't cover it up with clothing. No judge would take me seriously, unfortunately.

Bottom line: Rock on and do what your heart tells you!

wolfbaby said...

I have a tat on my belly, got it when i was 20 i think. that was over, no im not saying how many years... anywho.. i don't regret it. there is a story behind it. a very important one that someday maybe i will share. It means alot to me. i think to each there own.

on a funny note you should see it when i get preggers LOL it is on my belly after all *grin*

Marci said...

Sis... When Jeff and I decided to get our first one, I really had to thing about "why" I was getting it. I was lucky cause he wanted one too so that wasn't a problem. My biggest problem is finding something that was "me". I had a lot of people who told me I should get this or that, but they were not "me". Jeff and I talked about it and he picked out one that he really liked. I didn't get it cause again, it wasn't me.
A tattoo is a very personal thing. It's your body that you are putting a mark on for the rest of your life. It's for the reasons that you want and no one else. I respect your hubbies right to voice his views, but you are a big girl and like you said, you have thought about this a lot.
I love the idea of the flower. My first one was the two dolphins. It is for the love that I have for the ocean, the free spirit of the animal and the beauty that is with in each of us.
As for the pain, Yes.... IT HURTS LIKE HELL. If you choose a spot that doesn't get a lot of exposure like your upper arm it's going to be a killer. Lower leg is great cause it's going to keep it's shape more. The lower back I hear is one of the most painful spots.
I thought about getting one of Tigger(he's the best) but at 60, I didn't want it to look like a cheese puff and take the chance of freaking out my grandchildren one day.
Think about it long and hard and know that if we do this, I'll be there to hold your hand.

I love you!

kailani said...

If it will make you happy, then go for it. It's your body!

I'm too chicken to get one! LOL! said...

I have never liked tattoos and would especially worry about what it would look like over time and when they're in a visible place I think they ruin an outfit, just like a necklace can ruin an outfit when no jewelry would be better (which is a lot of the time),


you helped me to understand why someone would want to get one. I completely understand your reasoning of wanting to have a mark upon your body that you, for once, chose.

I thought I had it tough as a kid. Your life story sounds like one I'd want to read! Get writing! :-)

Jenn said...

Your blog is really good. I have a tattoo, and I love it. It is my lower back so unless I am in my swimsuit or I am tring to show it off you would never know I had one.
It is the Texas flag shaped like a heart. It has great meaning for me because I am born and raised a Texan and I am very proud of that. However my husband likes it even though he does not have one. I have a high pain tollerance and it did not hurt really bad until it hits bone. When it would hit my spine I definately knew it. I would get another if I knew what I wanted. It is however something you must live with for the rest of your life and your husbands life as well.

Slackermommy said...

You make a very convincing argument. Now go get that tattoo.

Pamela said...

I'm a wuss. If it hurts I'll pass.
How about a nice henna, first.. just to see if you like it?

Mert said...

Thanks Mari, Janie, Wolfbaby, Big Sis, Kailani, Pink, Jenn, Slackermommy, and Pajamela!

I told the hubs that I wouldn't get a tattoo unless is was OK with it. I know he still has some reservations about it, but for the most part he is dealing with it and has been more positive about it.

Pajamela:D , This site I found a design from, they sell special transfer paper where I can print out a trial run of the design. I'm really thinking about it.

Karmyn R said...

I personally won't ever get tattoo'd - (I'm a pain-wimp AND because after 50 years they look like crap) - however, meeting your sister is a huge moment and a lotus flower tattoo will be a great representation.

(I like the henna suggestion - give it a try before hand)

Daddy Forever said...

If it makes you happy, go for it. You only live once.

Michelle said...

I have two and a very small third one, I got them before I met my husband.
He doesn't like them at all, and thinks they are trashy . . but what can be done . .
I only wish that I would have placed them on a much more private relm . . like my butt, 'cause it would make picking out clothes a whole lot easier . . as it is I got them on my thigh, and on my left upper breast cauese I was too shy to disrobe for anyone to tatoo me. I'm sorry for that now, seeing there are times I want to be in something lovely and such and here I have this tatoo stiking out . . and it doesn't match.
But like I said, oh well.
If you do decide to do this, just chose wisely.