Getting a tattoo.

As with many things that I’m doing because of my Memory List, getting a tattoo has been something on my mind for a couple of years, but I never made it a priority. I didn’t really know what I wanted, and without being sure of a design, I wasn’t going to go through any sort of pain to get something permanently applied to my body.

In the days and weeks after I decided to leave my marriage, the idea of getting a tattoo popped back into my mind. A small, simple, black bird, with spread wings on the inside of my right wrist felt the closest to being true to me and how I was feeling. A bird flying free, unrestricted by the limitations of the Earth’s terrain was the poeticism I was looking for.

But with COVID having everything shut down, the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to have a friend in the room with me, giving me the emotional support I thought I needed to get through pain of the tattoo, I shelved the idea once again. At least until after the pandemic.

Now, let’s fast forward a couple months, to about 5 weeks ago. At the nudging of my career coach, I started reading Glennon Doyle’s autobiographical book, Untamed. There were a number of aspects of her life that resonated with me, and similarly paralleled my experiences. I, too, had built structures in my life because of what I thought society expected of me. These structures weren’t true to me. These structures, although they looked like they made sense on paper, weren’t the blueprints of the “house” I wanted to live in any longer.

In order to start over, all these existing structures have to first be taken down. They need to be burned down to the ground, leaving nothing but scorched earth. Only then could new blueprints be used to create the patterns of a new foundation.

This idea of burning is one of the main metaphors I’ve had in my head, and something I’ve discussed at length with my therapist. The work of saying goodbye to so much that I’ve held so close to my heart for so long is excruciating. But the process of grief recovery demands that I acknowledge my past relationship to all these structures, recounting both the positive and negative moments I experienced with them, and let them go.

It’s hard to not hold on. In many respects, they’ve been what have kept me afloat for so many years. But, over the past few weeks, I’ve come to the realization that I’m more buoyant than I had thought. I am my own life preserver.

This moment of self-awareness hit me heavily while I was on my morning walk last Saturday, with the first beams of sunlight breaking through the trees. I had a vision of myself being reborn, rising stronger from the ashes of everything I’ve been burning down.

I’m a phoenix.

That was it. My tattoo would have to be a phoenix. Never had something felt so right in my heart, and for the first time since I had mildly entertained the idea of getting a tattoo, I felt I needed it now.

When I got home from my walk, I immediately went to Google to get some inspiration from phoenix tattoo designs. Yes, yes, YES! I couldn’t contain my excitement, and quickly contacted a local tattoo artist, who uses vegan ink, and asked about next steps.

With the universe in my corner, the stars aligned, and there just happened to be a last-minute cancellation, and I was able to get in today! Otherwise, I would have had to wait until mid-November, given how popular they are.

I now have a permanent reminder of how strong I am. How I can do hard things. How I can rise from the ashes to fly free, according to the blueprints of the truest, most beautiful life I can imagine. And, of course, the blueprint is a rainbow.

Follow along and make memories.


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