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6th-Jun-2009 07:15 pm
 Hi everyone.  I have a few questions for you.  I am at a very positve time in my life-have never felt so alive and "normal".  I feel like I have come out of my box-at least mostly.  I want to do something big to finally say that I am who I am and am finally happy with the real me. Its taken me so long to get to this point and I have had many setbacks and been in the dark places several times.  I dont know what really changed except that I am not wanting to run from fear-real or imagined anymore, I also am sick of sitting out for reasons that are only in my head-not my heart.  

Anyway--  I designed a tattoo idea (a henna colored tribalish owl) and found an awsome female tattoo artist to do it.  I just realized that the date we scheduled for the tattoo is 2 days before my 15 year SA anni.  So it really is going to be a milestone event.   Which leads me to this question or questions:

has anyone done something similar for simalar reasons?

Did it help you retain that focus and feeling of being in that positive light?

Do you feel like it boosted your feelings of self worth ect?

anyone have any stories or pics to share?
6th-Jun-2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
I'll be doing something similar for similar reasons next year, when I have blue flames and the word 'fate' put on my left shoulder.

Good luck.
6th-Jun-2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
I'm actually in the process of getting a side piece done of a skeleton key which represents "memory" to me. I'm hoping to hear back from the artist soon about a final design.

I don't have it done yet, so no pics, sorry. I know there are a few other people on the community that have gotten very personal pieces done about their journey, though. :)

ETA: Silly me. I'm also glad that you're feeling more "you"! That's a big deal. And I think a tattoo can be a wonderful transition.

Edited at 2009-06-06 11:43 pm (UTC)
7th-Jun-2009 12:41 am (UTC)
I really hope a lot of people respond to this; I know there are several community members who have tattoos for similar reasons and that this topic has come up quite a few times!

I have two tattoos. I never really intended, consciously, for either of them to be recovery-related, but they both sort of are anyway. I'll post pictures after the descriptions.

Tattoo #1: Medieval-style sun on my lower back. I got this about three months after breaking up with my abusive, ex-boyfriend. He had never even let me wear make-up, let alone get a freaking tattoo. Originally, I thought it should symbolize "happier, sunnier days" ahead. I got it on my 23rd birthday in Philadelphia. Since then, I've reworked it a bit and added more color. I plan to add a lot to it and expand it into a tattoo that covers half my back.

Tattoo #2: Ouroboros (snake eating itself) on my left wrist. I got this right before I started therapy for sexual assault/abuse. It was great timing. I planned it out much better than the sun and it represents a lot of what I work towards regarding recovery. It basically means that I have to keep "eating" my past in order to continue to grow. That I choose knowledge over ignorance. That I will keep going no matter how bad it feels. I love it and am, two-plus years later, so glad I have it.

Tattoo #3: Still in planning stages. On the base of my right foot, I plan to have something tattooed in Hindi script. I love the Indian culture because it is so intense and alive. The colors are vibrant, the food is spicy and the people are passionate. I want it to be a testament to my intense nature and to develop into a henna-style design towards my toes. I just need to figure out what I want the script to say.

My wrist tattoo always reminds me of who I am and what I'm working towards. It definitely bolstered my feelings of self-worth and continues to serve as a reminder for the strong person I am.

I think a tattoo is an excellent idea. If you have any questions regarding anything tattoo-related, feel free to ask me! I'm happy to help.

Congrats on your decision! I wish you the best of luck!

My tats:


7th-Jun-2009 03:13 am (UTC)
you have some nice work there. Love the colors. I am getting more excited every day. one question for you though-- Do tattoos hurt as bad as people say?

(( also to one of the above posters--Im going to get the tattoo on my outer mid to upper fleshy calf area so that I can cover it if need be. ))
7th-Jun-2009 03:42 am (UTC)
Pain, like many things, is relative.

I'll tell you what I experienced, sans sugar-coating. That's the best I can do for you.

First of all, tattoos over bone = PAIN. That's a pretty general truth. The more fat under the needle, the less agony you're in.

That said, my wrist tattoo was surprisingly painless. The only time it hurt at all was when he got to the part over the tendon in the middle. And it was so quick, it barely really bothered me. Most of it just tickled.

My back tattoo was, however, excruciating. Especially over the spine. Imagine that someone has an uncapped, jagged pen tip and is shoving it into you, dragging it deeply into your skin. For four hours. That's what a semi-large tattoo feels like.

Outline and shading/color needles are the worst. Outline needles are thick and hurt becuase of the size. Shading/color needles are slanted and hurt because of the angle at which they hit your skin and the varying depths to which the tattoo artist has to apply them.

But pain is really relative. And once the endorphins kick in, it almost feels... good. That's not quite the best word, but it's really hard to describe. All I can say is that, in the end, you feel like you went through an experience you've earned.

I would definitely bring someone with you if it's your first tattoo. That way, you can have someone distract you with unrelated conversation if need be and drive you home if it's sore/swollen/painful afterwards (not unusual).

Last but not least, PLEASE be picky. It's not just an issue of "well it's going to be on me forever, so I want high quality imagery". A good quality tattoo artist knows how to apply the needles at the correct angles/depths and will hurt you less/give you the longest-lasting tattoo because of their high skill level. Do your research, ask questions and be prepraed to spend a good amount of money for the best service.

7th-Jun-2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the info. I may not have anyone to go with me, but I am prepared for that. As far as the artist goes, she is great. I have met with her several times and watched a session she did too. She is highly skilled and is an artist in every sense of the word. She is very positive and open.

Again thatnks for all the replies and thanks for the personal info too. (keep it coming-lol)
7th-Jun-2009 03:06 am (UTC)
I'm considering getting my nose pierced for similar reasons, but may back down because not that many people find it attractive and it can make it difficult for me to get a job. If you get a tattoo in a discreet place, it shouldn't be an issue.
7th-Jun-2009 03:47 am (UTC)
Can't you take the stud out for interviews?

I have a 15-year-old student who just pierced her nose and takes out her stud occasionally (i.e. when her parents are around). It doesn't seem to bother her or negatively affect the wound.

I definitely wouldn't interview with a nose piercing though. I'm on the hiring committee for my school (I'm a high school teacher) and, even though teaching is a HUGELY liberal field and several of us have tattoos/piercings, my boss made sure to take note of the 22-year-old college grad who applied for a Spanish teaching job with her nose-piercing in during the interview. She went off about how it showed "poor judgment and taste" for like a half-hour. Bleck.

Still, I like nose piercings and I think they can be versatile once they've healed!
7th-Jun-2009 03:51 am (UTC)
For the first six weeks, you are definitely not supposed to remove your jewelry, but I've been told that in reality, you're not supposed to remove it for the first six MONTHS. I absolutely plan on getting the smallest, least eye-catching stud on the market, as well as buying a quality retainer (which would be invisible unless you were staring), but because of the healing time required, not only is interviewing without it not necessarily an option, but WORKING without it may not be an option either- at least for a while. I was planning on getting it in early September, right after my birthday. I should already have a job by then, but that doesn't solve the problem of what to do during the initial healing time.
7th-Jun-2009 04:08 am (UTC)
This is mine. Just in case you can't read it, it says and it did not fall, for it was founded upon the rock.

I've done a lot of self-destructive things to try and validate my pain. It was only when I embraced my faith and accepted the things that had happened to me that I found the ability to stand on my own two feet. I fully acknowledge that this is not the path that everyone must take to survival, but it is was (and continues to be) mine.

I say all that to say: this passage is from the Bible, Matthew 7:25 to be exact. I got it ground myself. Yes, there are times when I absolutely believe I will never move past this moment. There are days when it's hard to think coherent thoughts. But I will not fall back into that old mentality that I had, because I'm founded upon the rock. Yadayada, haha.

So to answer your question, absolutely yes it helps to retain my focus. I felt proud when it was there - proud that I could explain to anyone when asked what it meant that I had survived something traumatic and come out the victor in the end.

As for the pain, well. I had expected a lot worse, especially because I have had people relate tattoo pain to dragging a razor over your skin. Well, I've done that many times before and to be quite honest, it's nothing like that. I found myself just turning the nervousness and energy that I felt into a positive experience and it was definitely easy to turn off the pain and just focus on the chills running through my whole body. It was truly amazing.

So good luck! I'm happy for you.
7th-Jun-2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
I've been getting non-permanent tattoos, if that counts, for reasons of reclaiming my life/body. Didn't get the permanent ones because I didn't want to have a *constant* reminder of the events I needed to heal from by that tattooing, though.

It's had positive effects on me as it helped me with the process of regaining the feeling my life is in *my* competency and my body as a whole doesn't belong to anyone else unless I allow them to.

However, it was just one tidbit of such actions for the same goal, and I can't really say it'd be some miracle cure, but little bits like that can do their work.
7th-Jun-2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
The tattoo in my icon is in honor of my survival of so much abuse. I have so very many anniversaries, that it's just about impossible not to time one to coincide, so mine was near an anniversary.

It was a beautiful experience, and I am so glad I did so. I have a beautiful piece of art which represents my rise from the ashes, again and again. It represents no one being able to keep me down.

Every time I'm not sure if I have the strength, I have a visual reminder - and I remember that day, getting the tattoo, and feeling so amazingly strong. It has definitely helped me.
7th-Jun-2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
I have a tattoo of the name I have gone by online since 2002 on my right wrist. Getting it and having it has been a very powerful healing experience.

Every time I look at it and touch it, it reminds me that my body is mine and real and belongs entirely to me. I also remember the friend who did the lettering with great affection (the particular text I used in the tattoo came from the front of a blank book she inscribed to me, so it makes me think about how my life is also a blank book for me to fill).

Edited at 2009-06-07 10:03 pm (UTC)
7th-Jun-2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
I've been in SA counseling for a few years and finally feel like i am getting somewhere.

I met a really cool tattoo artist that i adore and she will be doing my chestpeice tattoo.

It's going to be a Goddess symbol, with Sexual Abuse Survivor written in rune stones
I'm hoping it will be one of my final steps of healing.
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