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.