Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Under my skin

This Memorial Day weekend I took on a little memorial of my own. On Saturday, I spent several hours grinding my teeth in pain while an artistic sadist punched ink into my skin. In other words, I got a tattoo. It is not my first. I have a dragonfly on my left ankle that I had done June 6th, 1998 (don't ask why this is marked in Auntie Chihuahua's Palm to this day, but it is). That was more of a "I like dragonflies and I want a tattoo decision" than a real emotional process. This time was different.
Last year I lost Mao and just a few days later I discovered that despite my searching Terry had already been lost for years. These two voids hit me with such unexpected force I was left reeling. In an attempt to reconcile with how much I was changed by the loss, I decided I would mark my body with a symbolic connection to those pieces of my life. I have reasons for the choice of design, some can be easily put into words and others are more internal. The more obvious reasons have to do with established symbolism. Koi represent those who go against the grain, they symbolize those who are struggling against their own challenges, they also symbolize those who have overcome their struggles. As I read more about the symbolism of fish, they srepresent the emotions at the foundations of our character, they represent possibility and potential riches. Once I chose the idea, it seemed to flexible enough to expand and grow, covering all of the amorphous emotional "goo" that I wanted to have wrapped up in there.

While these losses may have motivated the decision, other things have driven the action. Symbolism aside, I also got the tattoo for me. In addition to creating a lasting physical connection to those I have lost, I am also reclaiming myself. A while back someone brought it to my attention that I had been pregnant or nursing constantly for the past 5 years. It has been a heady thing to make people and nourish them with this body of mine. Yet at the same time I has been providing life and comfort to others for all this time and in some ways I feel oddly disconnected from my body as my own home. It is time for me to reclaim my body for me, so I've marked it with my chosen design. I don't really care what other people think about it. It means something to me, and it is mine.
But can I help it if it also makes me look bad ass? I think not.

7 comments:

super des said...

I love it. And I love your reasoning, especially the reclaiming of your body for yourself.

Since I have 5 (or 7, depending on how you count) tattoos and no kids, does this mean I've *always* had control over my own body? (I hope so!)

mamikaze said...

It's so purrrdeeee! I wish I was as cool as you.

Саричка said...

It's beautiful in every sense of the word.

Molly said...

Rock on, momma.

Kaza said...

Awesome. Just awesome. You go girl.

Elle said...

Cool blog, great post and nice arm art
It will serve you well

Ann said...

When that thought comes over you about how your body has been functioning, about it "not being your own", that thought can really take you away.
I love how you brought it all back and claimed even more of yourself for yourself.

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