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A Family Brought Together

A lot of the people I know who have any form of body-modification have often had trouble with one or two relatives, or with members or their chosen religion, due to the fact that what they choose to do with their own bodies isn't "normal."

This experience is along the same lines, but has a different ending when compared to most of the situations that my acquaintances have experienced. Generally when a friend has done something like getting a piercing, or a tattoo, or anything like that, his or her parents or guardians have had some problem with it. This, of course, isn't the case with some of the folks I know, because quite a few actually have accepting elders. However, almost everybody I know involved in the body-mod scene has had some experience with their church not quite enjoying what they've done; the whole "body is a temple" thing. Even though if most of them would look at it our way, we ARE using our bodies as temples...of self-expression.

My story begins on the day of my 18th birthday. I had thought about getting a tattoo or two from the time I was 15 or so, and did quite a bit of research on the procedure, dangers, and just about everything else you could imagine. I even used BMEZine as a reference. I wasn't about to do something that I wasn't comfortable with, so I wanted to know as much about it as possible before I let somebody drill on me.

I started following the advice of every tattoo or piercing-related tidbit I'd ever read, and began my search for a shop that I was comfortable with. It took a while, but I finally found one that I was comfortable with, and decided to work with one of the artists there on the design that I was thinking about.

I won't go into too much more detail about the actual tattoo right now. I'd rather save that for another experience. Suffice it to say that the tattoo came out just as good as I wanted it to, and I have since gone back for more work.

The situation I'm describing will probably sound familiar to some, though not to all. My family consists of almost entirely practicing Christians. And as with most stories that are probably housed on BME pertaining to religion, I'm almost absolutely sure you can see where this is going.

My mother was the first to see the tattoo, and she wasn't exactly thrilled, but I was 18 and had moved out of the house about 8 months prior to getting the work done, so she wasn't going to reprimand me; just tell me that I shouldn't have done it. My father was a different story. He was, and still is, a hardcore Christian. This can be a problem at times (I currently don't practice any religion) but generally he's an all right kind of guy. In this case he wasn't exactly all right with the situation. He actually threatened to disown me at one point. After that he proceeded to inform his friends of what an evil creature his son had turned out to be.

This didn't exactly bother me, but at the same time you have to admit that when a loved and respected member of your family decides that you're worthless, it's not the most enjoyable experience. So I decided to just stop the problem by doing what I decided, mistakenly, that my father wanted; I stopped visiting and speaking to him. I did however continue to visit my mother regularly when he was at work.

My mother wasn't happy with my choice, but she accepted it anyway. The way she put it was something along the lines of "It's not my place to tell you what to do with your body. That wouldn't be very good of me, and it wouldn't help anyway." She also told me that she had argued with him over his actions recently. I told her that he should at least listen to my reasoning and she agreed.

Out of curiosity, she asked me why I had gotten what I did. I explained it to her as best as I could. I had designed the piece that I got, and it was based on something that she taught me how to draw when I was 5 or so. This was, I guess, enough to convince her that it wasn't anywhere near evil. It was just sentimental.

I guess she told my dad that very night, because he called me and asked if I'd come over for dinner. I told him yes, and went over without any expectations, because usually when my father and I get together we don't get along whatsoever. He wasn't an asshole that evening, and every other day that I saw him he was progressively nicer and nicer.

Skip ahead about 4 years to today. I sit in my tiny apartment amazed at how my family has changed in the past 3 years. My mother and father have both discontinued their church-attendance, though I don't know why. They haven't quit believing their beliefs; they've just quit attending services. However they still go to some church functions, like dinners, plays, and the like. And that is where the story ends up.

I was invited to attend a get-together being held at the church I went to up until I was about 10 years old, and accepted because my family was going as well. I should note that since the first conflict between my father and I, I've gotten an additional tattoo, and been through a slew of piercing. He's been OK with all of them so far, and it's been pretty cool. He and my mother have even spoken of sitting in while I get my next one: my family's crest.

Anyway, during the get-together, I noticed that quite a few of the church's regulars were doing their usual gossip thing. This was always a normal thing so I never thought anything about it when I was there. However my mother had noticed what they were talking about, and was none too happy about it. It's obvious they were talking about what a sinner I was so I won't go into. However, what happened next was completely unexpected. My father walked straight up to them, and said, "Yes, my son has piercings. Yes my son has tattoos. My son designed those tattoos, and from what I've seen throughout the years is a better person than any of you little gossips sitting around here talking about him. So...I think you owe my son an apology."

This was by far the best day I'd ever spent with my father. Since that day, my mother has told me of at least three other occasions in which my dad has told people about what a great son he has, and how talented his son is. And, strange as it may seem, a few of the members of the church I used to go to have come up to me on the street and shown me tattoos that they have had for longer than I've been alive. Some have even asked my opinions on the newer shops around the area. This is one case where Christianity took a turn and ended up being just fine about my modifications, and for that I'm thankful. Most of the Christians I know would have ended up just keeping their children's tattoos a secret; something to be ashamed of. Mine turned them into something to be proud of.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 26 July 2005
in Culture

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