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Getting my wings...

While I was growing up, things weren't always easy at home - I experienced an unreal amount of death and violence for someone my age. Part of my trying to cope was to cut myself. I did this for a lot of years and have a lot of quite ugly scars as a result. But I wouldn't want to be without my scars, because they, like my tattoos, have come to represent a big part of who I am. It was only after I met my boyfriend that I realised how much what I was doing hurt the people I care about and who care about me, so I tried to stop. It took me a while but I think I got there. The only problem was, I still felt I needed something to channel my emotions. I was tired of hurting my friends and family, and fed up of trying to make excuses for my injuries. I had always been fascinated by tattoos, and after a number a failed piercings, I though that I might have found my answer.

My tattoos have always been chosen for a reason, and nothing I have was done at random or without thought. Up until last summer I had six pretty small tattoos; my first was the kanji for tranquility on my back. Next came a dark red rose on my left hip, chosen for me by my boyfriend, and a wiggly water dragon on my lower stomach, designed for me by a friend. Shortly after those I got some Latin script added above the dragon, and a little sail boat on my right hip (the sail boat is for my Dad who passed away when I was 11). My sixth tattoo was a shooting star on my right ankle. I felt like it gave me hope when I was in a very dark place, following some family illness.

Then last summer I decided it was time for me to leave home. About a month before I was planning to go, I decided that this was the time for my next, and probably last tattoo. I thought it would be a perfect chance to mark the next step in my life.

There was a space on my stomach between three of my tattoos that I always wanted filled, but had never found the right thing or the right time. It looked strangely empty with nothing there, and I always knew that once I found the right thing, I would get the gap filled; it was just a question of when.

In the end, I chose a butterfly, about an inch square, and decorated in pink and yellow. After I found the image, I knew it was going to be perfect. I found the image on an old book mark I'd had as a child - odd maybe, but inspiration can be found in the weirdest of places. I felt the butterfly would fit nicely with my other ink, as it's all fairly girly and sweet-looking.

I went to a local tattoo place, not far from home, and I really didn't mind how long I had to wait. It seemed important to get it done then; my 7th tattoo, on July 7th 2007. I've never thought of myself as superstitious, but maybe I am. I just knew that having it done on a different day simply wouldn't have had the same sentiment or significance. I've always gone to get my tattoos alone. I think it just feels more cathartic when I go through the experience that way. I wouldn't want somebody else standing around and asking questions or making comments, and distracting me from what happens. I don't know if other people feel this, but I find tattooing to be a very peaceful experience, regardless whatever pain I might feel.

The artist who worked on me was kind and professional (sadly i've forgotten his name), and was most curious about my other ink, which we talked about at length while he was doing my butterfly. I think this one hurt a little more than some of the others, but the pain was never that bad. I think though, I was just really happy to have found my picture and have the opportunity to have it done. After it was finished I thanked the guy, paid and set off home.

My butterfly doesn't simply represent freedom. For me it feels like a closure on some very painful memories. I don't show off my ink often, but then, that isn't why I have it. I have it for me, as part of my healing, and I think somehow, it helps.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to share with my family what I've done (at the moment only one of my sisters knows), and how I feel the process has helped me, but I'm not sure they'd understand. I'm sure they'd just interpret my art as mutilation and so on, and I don't want to argue with them. It would be nice if they realised though, that healing doesn't always come from a doctor or with a prescription.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 28 Sept. 2008
in Tattoos

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Location: Bristol%2C+England

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