words & shit abt self harm & tattooing

[CONTENT WARNING: talking about, uh, self harm]

IMG_7653Last weekend I impulsively got the tattoo I’d been thinking about for upwards of six months (maybe a year?) – if impulsive is a word that can really apply to doing anything after that much deliberation.

I held out so long because I am, honestly, a gigantic baby. Thinking of a tattoo as a permanent, irreversible marker, I had planned it as an indicator of my recovery. In my mind, it would be like stepping into a body (a personality) that would never slip up again, especially because I saw self-harming as shameful and juvenile. I would become the person I wished I was – confident, disciplined, in control. I thought I had to earn this tattoo by being a new person, which in retrospect, is bullshit.

On the rare occasions that I actually talk about my history with self-harm, I describe it just like that: as history. “I used to cut myself,” is what I told my roommate (soon to be mega cute polypartner) when I moved in and she asked if I had any mental health issues. I’ve had at least four relapses since moving in (in june), but it’s still a used to. Like any addictive-type behavior, it hangs around.

I was on/off sick for almost the entire month of July and lost about ten pounds; I very vividly remember this dream I had while I was sick where I realized my body was shrinking up, revealing deep red cuts on my leg underneath the fat that had been hiding them the whole time. I had faint scars for probably about a year after I stopped cutting, but they’ve faded. I could live the rest of my life pretending that it had never happened, if I wanted to.

I had a conversation with Amanda (the previously mentioned polybabe) about tattoos when I made the appointment to get mine, and we were both frustrated with the expectation that the imagery of our tattoos be fraught with symbolic meaning — it takes itself so seriously. That I got a triangle means very little, other than that I feel very comfortable with the idea of something clean and geometric (I do so much math, you might say I’m a trig witch), and all the significance for me is in the placement. This isn’t limited to the fact that I used to(?) cut myself on my leg — it was also because I feel like thighs are a very loaded part of the female body. Thighs are always going to look big, because of the way they’re built; I feel very empowered by the idea of celebrating a part of my body that is very easy to slip into hating, just from decades of pressure.

More than anything, I’m working to think of myself as a fluid entity; there is no single, right way for me to be, there is no single, right path for me to get there. There was a moment when the artist was going over a part of my leg that was extra-painful that I thought “oh shit, I’m a fool” — all the relief from hurting myself came from control and shifting focus, and it’s different when it’s something happening to you. It’s cheesy and shit, but there it is, and I think in the long run I’ll (probably) be happier for letting go of the insecure desire to be in control.

life is chaos & shit, xoxo,

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