ink-checkered past…

So I’ve been of a mind lately to mark up my body up some more… 🙂

… As in another tattoo.

I swore years ago, after my last one that I wouldn’t even get another…but things change…especially in my world. This would be my sixth, so quantity-wise, it might seem a little bit excessive. But quality-wise…that’s a different story. My reasons for wanting this one are far different than they were for the others. Speaking of the others…I regret them. Well…not regret exactly because that’s not entirely true. What’s the line… “don’t regret anything because at one time it’s what you wanted” … yeah, so maybe instead of regret, I should say that I’m not particularly proud of the fact that they exist, on my body.

My first one–well that was pure teenage rebellion, to put it simply. It was. I had just turned eighteen and my grams was absolutely against me getting a tattoo so naturally, I went right out and got one. Looking back…not one of my smartest moves, but what can you do, right? Chalk it up to teenage ignorance and not knowing any better.

My second one isn’t so bad. Of the five, it’s by far, my favorite. It’s a pretty little butterfly design on the top of my foot, with a little “J” swirled on the tip of the butterfly’s wing for the initial of my first name. Admittedly, I love it. It’s pretty and simple and personal. Butterflies are an unspoken symbol of freedom and independence…they can’t be caged. And they symbolize the ultimate transformation…a beautiful change. I love the metaphor they represent. I love the tattoo. The placement wasn’t the best…as anyone who has ever gotten a tattoo on their foot can tell you…it’s painful. Heck, it’s more than painful. I was shaking so bad, the guy tattooing me had to have one of his assistants hold down my leg. After that, I swore after tattoos for awhile.

My last three were mistakes. Big, big mistakes. Let’s just say that I was a little er–um, “inebriated” for two of the three. Okay…a LOT inebriated. Like I said, big mistakes. Why I thought it would be a good idea to get inked–two at the same time, no less–while wasted as all get out–well, I wasn’t thinking, that was the problem. The first one wasn’t so bad…but the other, this flower design on my shoulder blade–again, not a fun spot to get a tattoo, pain-wise–took forever. Granted, it came out pretty good…but it was pure hell…worse than my foot. I was literally sobbing through that one…nearly all three and a half hours of it. It was bad. And the very last one I got, I think the guy doing the tattooing was a little “inebriated”, to put it nicely. Luckily the tattoo came out alright, but it was a bad idea from the start. It was one of those “oh I’m at a tattoo parlor with a friend who’s getting a tattoo so why not, I’ll get another of my own” kind of things. Yeah…not smart.

So I have out of five that I actually don’t mind. I’d like to make that two of six.

All my other ones were for stupid, careless, just because I can reasons. I didn’t really think about them. I just decided one day I felt like getting a tattoo, so I grabbed a friend and went and got one. Simple as that. No thought really involved, aside from the picking out the design. Simple. But this time is different. I’ve been thinking a lot about this one. One I want it to mean. The butterfly symbolism means something to me, sure, but nothing like this. This one is way more important. And far more personal.

The tattoo I want to get will be of a little quote I came up with, something that means something to me, something along the lines of :

Behind every scar, there’s a story.

For every story, there’s a lesson learned.

Battle scars are not given, they are earned.  

The plan is to put it on my wrist…the one with the scar from a not so minor incident many years back. For the longest time when anyone asked about it, I’d shrug the question off and spout off the “oh, I put my hand through a window, clumsy me” story that I’d perfected. Only my family and a couple of close friends knew the real truth behind the scar. I’ll admit it, I was ashamed of the truth. And scared of what people would think if they knew the truth. It took a long time, but I eventually let go of the shame of that night and the truth; of which is that I did it to myself. I slit my wrist with a razor blade. I did. I admit it, with no shame.

It was a long time ago.  Halloween night in 2007, to be exact. I was 20 years old. And drunk as hell. It’s true. I’d gone out with a friend to celebrate the holiday and had had far too much to drink. I can’t really remember the events that led up to it, but somehow, at some point, I ended up on the front steps of my family’s home with a razor blade in my hand. The rest is kind of fuzzy. Like I said, I was really, really drunk. I was upset, for a lot of reasons. I was conflicted about school–I wanted to go back, but I was scared of what would happen with my ex if I did. There was all this pressure from my family to go back and to get my life back on track and honestly, I felt like I’d let them down. Like I was a big, disappointing failure to them. That didn’t set well with me. I felt guilty and ashamed and angry, with myself, with them, with my ex…with the world. I felt lost because while everyone else around me seemed to know exactly what they wanted…I didn’t have the first clue of what I wanted or what I wanted to do. At the time, I thought I was supposed to know. The fact that I didn’t just added to my feeling like a total failure. In retrospect, I know it was completely normal to feel as I was–but I didn’t know that then, obviously. In my fragile state of mind right then, I guess it didn’t help that I’d had an argument with the friend I’d gone out with that night. She’d ditched me after the party to run off with some guy that was bad news, after begging me to go out in the first place. I hadn’t wanted to go out because well, I’m not a big fan of Halloween. That kind of happens when you’ve been sexually assaulted at a Halloween party 4 years prior. But she insisted. Then left me. Drunk as a skunk. (To clarify–I’m an emotional drunk–big-time. I mean, BIG time. I’m a crier when I have way too much to drink…especially if I have hard liquor. Mainly vodka. Me and vodka–not a good combination. Granted, it probably has to do with the fact that my drink of choice is Vodka and Redbull…thus making it so that I can drink and drink and be all sober and lively for hours until wham, the vodka hits me ALL AT ONCE. It’s never a gradual thing with those drinks. So yeah, when I’ve had a few too many–and something on my mind that I’ve been avoiding–I’ll get emotional and cry. It’s really not a pretty sight, but yeah. We all have our flaws, I guess. :/)

Anyhow, all the stress combined with all the alcohol I consumed–I went a little off the deep-end. Initially, I don’t I intended to go as far as I did. I think I was only trying to relieve a little of that stress in one of the–albeit unhealthy–coping mechanisms I’d used often in the past…cutting. I know, I know–that’s a really taboo subject, but it’s an honest to god, real one. I’m not saying that it’s the right way to cope with problems, because I know that it’s not. And I’m not one of those crazy people who is all Pro-Cutting and Self-Harm…I’m not. But I do think people are afraid of the topic and avoid it, when the solution should be to embrace and try to understand it. I know, it’s hard and it’s not something people want to talk about, but life isn’t always puppy dogs and rainbows. Sometimes it’s gritty. And self-harm is a problem. Doctors call it a mental disorder. I think it’s a front. A way to cope with the bigger, underlying issues. Personally, I struggled with it for years. I haven’t done it in a really long time, but that’s not to say I’m completely cured. Like anything, it’s a learned habit. One that’s really, really hard to break. When people ask why I did it in the past, I say that it’s complicated. And it is. It’s also easier to say that than it is to explain it in a way that people will truly understand. It’s something that’s not easily understood…and I get that. It’s hard to understand something that you, yourself haven’t experienced. All I can say is that it helped…at the time. I know that sounds crazy and messed up–and probably makes no sense at all–but it did. It didn’t hurt. Not really. I mean, there was always the sting…but no real pain. And it was that sting that was my addiction. I craved it. Needed it. At times, I couldn’t breathe without it. Or that’s how it felt. With everything else coming at me sometimes, I honestly felt like I was suffocating. Cutting was a distraction from all of that. An escape. An unhealthy escape, but an escape nonetheless. I think people judge “cutters” without really understanding and that bothers me. It’s not something I’m entirely proud of, but I’m not afraid to admit that. And that takes guts, I think. And besides, it’s not something you can ever forget…even if you wanted to. The pale little scars are always there, a reminder forever. You can either hang your head in shame, or you can hold your chin up and say that you’re better than those scars…you’re in a better place. Which I am now.

So yeah, that’s what I think I started off intending to do. And somewhere along the way…it got out of hand. I went too far, cut too deep. For a long time, I was in denial. I refused to admit that I was trying to kill myself that night. I would just say that I was drunk and did something stupid–that it went too far. And that’s true…but it’s not the whole truth. I was drunk. So drunk. So much so that I wasn’t thinking clearly. But a part of me I think, a little part of me, wanted it. Wanted to die. That’s not an easy thing for me to admit, even now, after all these years. But it’s the truth. A part of me did want to die…to just fade away and make all my problems go away. I wasn’t strong enough to fight and right then in that moment, I honestly didn’t want to. I was tired of messing up. Tired of feeling messed-up. Hell, I was just tired in general. But at the very end, I chickened out. As it turned out, I wasn’t brave enough to actually go through with it. I mean, technically, I had. I slit my wrist…right down to a severed nerve. There was blood…everywhere. And I remember sitting on the gravel in the driveway feeling numb, staring at all the blood, and thinking that I couldn’t do that to my family. I couldn’t let them down again…not like that. It would have been the ultimate betrayal to them, the biggest disappointment. So I called my sister, who was asleep in the house. There are a lot of things I don’t remember about that night, but I can still see her face…clearly. The confusion as she walked out and saw me sitting in the driveway, sobbing. The shock and horror as she came over and saw all the blood. The absolute fear as she ran in the house screaming to my grams and running back out with a towel. I remember sobbing over and over that I was sorry as she called 911, telling her it wasn’t as bad as it looked. But it was. I knew it was. I can still remember the hospital psychiatrist arguing with me when I told him it wasn’t a big deal and him telling me that I would have bled out if I’d stayed there in that driveway and hadn’t called my sister.

It wasn’t an experience I like to relive or think about often. I prefer not to think about. It wasn’t pleasant, at all. Certainly not the act itself…or the ER visit. I swear that doctor was a sadist that night, even though I know he probably thought he was doing me a favor my teaching me a lesson. His method of teaching was to force me to sober up a little before sewing me up. Which was a little hard considering my BAC was almost .2 that night. Like I said, I was drunk as a skunk. How I was even conscious is a mystery to me. Anyhow, it sucked when he finally did stitch me up. It was bad. I was shaking so bad that they had to give me a sedative, but I was still awake and could feel everything, it seemed. I just couldn’t talk, or move. All I could do was cry while my sister sat next to me, holding my other hand. I spent 5 days in the psych ward after that. I guess it’s standard, although my stay was a little extended because I didn’t exactly “cooperate” with the psychiatrist. He wanted me to admit that I was depressed, which I wasn’t. I’d gotten drunk–really drunk–and felt hopeless for one moment, one night. I mean logically speaking, if I’d really wanted to die–really wanted to–then I never would have called my sister for help. So there. He and I also disagreed on his suggested course of treatment. He wanted me to go on anti-depressants and I refused. I didn’t want to be a “downer” zombie. I’ve never been a fan of anti-depressants. I’m sure they help some people, but I didn’t that for me. I wanted to get better on my own. It was the only way I was going to ever trust myself again. He disagreed with that. So…he made me stay there until I agreed to go on meds. Eventually, I agreed just to get out of there. I never filled the prescription once I left. I didn’t see the point. And it wasn’t like he could make me take them.

That unfortunately wasn’t the end of that, though. 2 days after they released me, I had to have reconstructive surgery on my wrist to repair the nerve I severed. That definitely wasn’t a fun experience. I really messed up with that one. Even with the surgery and physical therapy, my wrist will never be the same. I still have some limited movement in my wrist and the feeling is all messed up. Half of the time it’s numb, or there’s a tingling sensation that never quite goes away. It sucks. But I guess I’m lucky that I can still feel it at all. Lucky.

Then there’s the scar. It’s hideous…well, it’s faded, but it’s still hideous to me. But I’m not ashamed of it anymore. I’m not proud of it, but it’s there. It happened. It’s a reminder of a horrible low point in my life…but in a way, that’s a good thing. It’s a symbol that it gets better, because it has. I mean, sure…things aren’t always great and there have been some trying times since…but things have never been as bad as they got that night…and that gives me hope. In a way. It’s weird, but yeah. Anyhow, I want the tattoo to symbolize that. It’s my own battle scar, in a sense. And I’ve fought really hard to change and I think I’ve come a long way since then and who I was that night. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed either. And that’s a big realization for me.

Thus…the want for a new tattoo…. 🙂

xoxo, MESSIE

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