Yesterday I was having lunch with a good friend. She was telling me that she had shown her mother a photo she had taken of me a while back. Her mother immediately got frightened and judgmental because of the tattoos that were on my forearms. Imagine how she would have responded had she seen all the other ones on the rest of my body! My friend set her straight about her judgments and attitudes. But this got me thinking about how often people jump to a LOT of conclusions, even in this day and age, when they see tattoos. Try going through airport security! No one thinks to ask about your journey of self-modification and what that journey means to you. They want to know what gang you are in. They want to know if it is a sexual turn on to get it done. They want to know what each tattoo means in terms of symbolism. They never ask about YOU.
So I decided that I am going to get very personal here, but hopefully not uncomfortably so. If you are the type of person who thinks the slightest thing is too much information I suggest you stop reading here and start reading about personal inhibitions and social guilt tripping and shaming. Then come back and read this post. So here we go.
Not a lot of people know this about me, mostly because I rarely ever talk about it unless absolutely necessary. I have survived physical abuse and several sexual assaults. There. I said it. Each time I went through something I was profoundly aware of how it was affecting me. I would refuse to “leave my body” for the duration of the event. I stayed right where I was in rebellion of the event. I knew that if I left my body they would OWN it, so I stayed right there for every single second, every minute, every hour, every day. I did not want to be the person who knew something went wrong and not be able to remember what it was. And my grandmother had instructed me on how important it is to stay present even if the present moment is torturous. That way you don’t experience Soul Loss. And you will remember the events as they happened and people involved will always know that you know exactly who and how they are. It tends to take away their power over you, or their perceived power. That is what got me through for years until I was able to afford some good therapy regarding these issues. The good therapy part was quite the hunt back then. It was a time when therapists and social workers did not want to contemplate the possibility that males are also victimized in our society. I challenged every misconception on that front, and I still do. Gradually…YEARS LATER…things are beginning to turn around. It is a darn good thing that I am a very patient man.
So where does this tie in to getting tattooed? Let me just say that it took me 50 years to get around to getting my first tattoo. So this was not something that I did on a whim and I think that by the time someone is 50 years old they are old enough to make their own decisions regarding body modifications. It is not like I dove into that as a rite of passage on my 18th birthday or anything.
All my life I have had tattoos existing under my skin. They are sometimes seen by others, not necessarily restricted to just those with “sight”. People, regular people, have seen them. What tends to freak them out is that they are not stationary. The shadow tattoos move around under my skin all the time. They are part of my energy field. Often I asked Spirit if I should get one inked somewhere on my body and was told that until I get the green light to do so I should just allow them free range. Then, one day, I was watching a tattoo under my skin move around and it came to rest on the inside of my forearm. I heard my Spirit Guide say, “Now is the time. If you would like to get this one inked on in that particular spot, go ahead. It is anchored there from now on anyway.” So I did. Gradually over the last 5 years I have been having more and more of the images anchor themselves and so I tend to get them inked when they do. Granted, some of the tattoos that I have are also images that I simply love and have never really been a part of the shadow tattoos under my skin. So for example I have a heart shaped crest on my left shoulder that is there in memory of my late wife. That is its soul purpose. Nothing more. I also have a steampunk heart over my left pectoral muscle, which for me represents the mechanics of the heart and of emotions. But it is not a part of my shadow tattoos.
In having tattoos placed on my body I walk through, each and every time, an inner reclaiming of my body. All of the trauma that went down, all of the assaults that took place, have healed. But for me it is also about a reclamation. It is my way of saying, “My body, My rules.” Up until my torso was covered in ink I was quite intimidated about even removing my shirt. Now, even with my shirt off, I am no longer just naked. In fact, I do not feel naked at all. Last week we were visiting with friends and the woman, who is totally into tattoos, asked if she could see the other ones. I took off my shirt and watched as she admired each and every one of them. I mentioned that I have some on my legs and she invited me to drop trou. Without even batting an eye I undid my belt, dropped my pants and stood there in my underwear in our kitchen as she admired the tattoos on my legs. It was not sexual in any way. It was personal, but I feel completely comfortable with these people, and I NOW feel completely comfortable in my body. I am a walking and talking work of art. Family members have worried about what all this means, but it is really none of their business. Some friends have worried as well, and again it is none of their business. The friends that are closest to me celebrate with me each and every tattoo that I get and the beauty of it and what it means to ME. And that means so much to me in and of itself, because my ink has nothing to do with anyone else on the planet. It really is, in this particular circumstance, all about me…no one else. If people are offended by them they can sit in that offended feeling and sort their stuff out. I owe them nothing and I need not be doing pretzel performances to try to make them like me. I don’t care if they like me. And if they are the type of person who is going to judge me based on their misconceptions about tattoos, then I really don’t want them in my life anyway.
So that is my story. It has nothing to do with tribal ritual, nothing to do with gang mentality, nothing to do with drug use, nothing to do with an “ink addiction” (which to me is a stupid myth), nothing to do with deviant behaviour, nothing to do with worshipping Satan (whom I don’t even believe exists anyway), nothing to do with cultural appropriation (believe me I have heard ALL the idiotic perspectives over the last 5 years), it has nothing to do with “hiding who I am” like people say about men who choose to grow beards, nothing to do with anything other than my personal self-expression. It has to do with who I am as a spirit on this earth plane. It has to do with the energy medicine that I carry with me, regardless of whether or not it is physically visible. It has to do with being comfortable in my own skin and allowing myself to become a beautiful canvas for art of my choosing.