My First Tattoo
It finally came. The day I was going to get my first tattoo. I didn’t anticipate getting it so abruptly. I planned on getting it when I came back from my trip. But then I realized how much of a boon it would be if I got it before. Why? Because the tattoo I wanted was to inspire and encourage me.
Those were words I could find solace and motivation in. When I get scared abroad, when I feel dumb for going alone, when I am on the verge of a culture shock breakdown, I can look down. I can read the words. I will tell myself to be brave. I will tell myself if I want to be free, I must be brave.
And so I did it. I booked an artist, agonized over fonts (seriously, way too many fonts), and went in on a Saturday. I thought I’d have used numbing cream but I figured it was small enough I would be okay. He said it would be a 3-4 on the pain scale. Yeah…It was probably more painful than that to me as I have a shit pain tolerance. Then again, I’m shit at estimating pain on that dumb scale. Put it this way…I didn’t faint and in the past have fainted with shots and giving blood. But that’s mostly about psyching myself out before hand which I made a conscious effort not to do. But I also didn’t cry or hold my hub’s hand, which shocked me. But I wanted to do this completely on my own. I cursed, demanded a distraction, but once I got talking it sort of faded into the background.
I did it. I fucking did it. I felt like I’d earned my rebel wings, my apostate badge. My arm will forever be changed. I am becoming someone completely different than I imagined. I’m becoming my real self, bit by bit. And I was alive with excitement and adrenaline.
So of course I leaped onto social media to tell people, this was a huge moment for me. Something I wanted to celebrate. The likes poured in from women I only know through a women’s travel group and a few friends, comments about how it was beautiful. Not one from my family or my husband’s family. Not. One. No calls, no texts, just dead air on one of the most liberating and exciting days of my life.
Update: Since this, my grandparents posted. But not to compliment it. One just said “ouch” and the other made a sad face. Thanks for the support.
I broke from the cage a little today. Tattoos are forbidden in Mormonism (shocker). I took a huge leap away from past Shelby when I got inked. And the more I escape the cage, the more I realize the cage was more than just society and religion. Even the ones that claim to love and support me, don’t really. If I’d shared a new calling in church or announced I was pregnant, the support would come. But if I do something amazing and personal that doesn’t conform, I’m ignored.
This is why I have no reservations about leaving the country one day for good. Because all the people that might keep me here, save for the hubs, don’t really support me. They find it impossible to be happy for me if they wouldn’t get it/do it themselves. They couldn’t support me being me.
But it’s okay. Because when I look at my tattoo, I recall my bravery, I know why I had those exact words etched into my arm for forever. If I want to be free, I must be brave. And that means weeding out those who only pretend to support me. Life is too short to waste on people who are fake.
So there it is. She who is brave is free. Be brave, be free, be yourself. And to hell with anyone who doesn’t support you.
Tell me about tattoos you got! Were they as monumental as mine felt? Did you get support? Let’s hear it in the comments!