Today it seems like everyone has at least one tattoo. Over half my brother’s body is inked. My sister hides one on her rib cage. They can be anywhere, backs, calves, arms, bikini lines. No place is off limits.
I have two tattoos. The first is the word “Love” on my right wrist. Perhaps this is the most important of the two. I got it for a couple reasons – to, as a Christian, signify that God means love, and maybe just as importantly, to remind myself to love myself. You see, sometimes that is hard. When I am depressed I abhor myself. And even when not depressed and my phone calls go unanswered or I get rejected from yet another literary agent, it is a reminder that I DO LOVE MYSELF, and always should.
My other (favorite) tattoo is on my right foot. It is a series of stars, the largest a maritime star, the upper most a yellow northern star. I designed it myself with a little help from my brother. To me it signifies that the answers lie above in the heavens. If I get lost all I need to do is look up.
But just as significant as tattoos are scars. They too tell a story or mean something. I have cut my wrists, both of them. There is a line that divides the “o” and the “v” in the “Love” tattoo. That was, no doubt, a dark night. My left wrist is a tangle of scars. Obsessive compulsive disorder is to blame. Unless you suffer from this ailment you have no idea how it feels to be all-consumed with a thought. I fight. And I fight. And after fighting some more I give in and I cut.
It has landed me in an Emergency Room and then on to a psych ward for a week. It has led to two incidents where I should have gotten stitches but didn’t seek treatment until it was too late for that and all that was left was to tape me flesh back together and wrap up my wrist. I’ve probably needed stitches more than that, but I shy away from doctors. Doctors mean lock-up, and I prefer my freedom.
But just as my tattoos signify something, so too do my scars. They mean that I am still here, that I have been to depths of hell that is obsessive compulsive disorder and lived to tell the tale.
Often I hide my scars. They aren’t pretty. People get concerned. But a lot of the time I don’t. I bear them as securely as I bear my tattoos. Because, after all, both define me. The pretty and the not-so-pretty. My ying and yang. My truth.