First, I must apologize for my absence from the old blog lately. Between an added puppy to the family, an under-functioning thyroid, and general burn-out, I was less than inspired to do much of anything. However, Kyle and I were able to take our (much needed!) first vacation since our honeymoon five years ago and some of my general weariness was expelled. Mom took excellent care (aka, spoiled!) Dobby and Pip, so I got a little break from potty-training and all the fun that is puppies. And despite being in Vegas, Kyle and I got considerable rest. Hot weather is perfect for napping.
I will post in the next week many exciting aspects of our vacation, including the helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon that we did as my anniversary gift to Kyle. But I wanted to start with the most....surprising part.
For awhile I've been toying with the idea of a tattoo. No idea where it started, really, because I've never been a fan of tattoos for myself and was far more concerned about the permanency than the pain. Yet, at the same time I wanted to commemorate my five years with Kyle in some way - something to remind me constantly of the bond and love we have - as if I don't think of it hourly as it is!
While I had a very tame Vegas Vacation (no drinking and spent a whole whopping buck in the casino), not everything that happened in Vegas stayed there.
Kyle and I got matching ones. Mine on my wrist, his on his shoulder. My name is under his, and soon I will get his name inside mine (the guy wouldn't put text as tiny as I wished so I decided to wait).
Why a hedgehog? When Kyle and I were dating, he left me little presents on the coffee table to greet me when I'd come to visit and he'd still be at work. Several of these were little stuffed hedgehogs, and thus began my love of them. Our second year of marriage we bought our hedgie Spike, and though he never warmed up to us, we love him just the same. We lived four hours apart, so time together was hard to find. I cherished the hedgies as a memento of him and kept them on my night table to greet me each morning.
Hedgehogs symbolize protection, fertility of earth, and vitality, which is also sun related. Kyle is definitely my protector - he guards my heart and encourages my growth in so many ways. And so we found the perfect symbol at Tattoo Tribes - a hedgehog whose spikes are reminiscent of the sun and whose spiral shape inspires thoughts of seashells - also symbols of love and safe shelter.
I verged on two nervous breakdowns after I got it. I looked at this black brand-like symbol on my pale wrist and thought, "WHAT was I thinking?!" Maybe I hadn't been thinking at all! Panic hit, tears followed, and anxiety rippled through me for the first day or two. Kyle tried to calm me, telling me he loved it, I was beautiful with or without it. Of course I didn't believe him for a minute. The moment I got home I googled "laser tattoo removal". I was already calculating how I would find the money to get it erased.
Then I took a deep breath and asked myself what was really bothering me about it? Was it the design? No, that was perfect. Was the symbolism there? Yes, it made me think of Kyle, our love, and all that is my rock in this world. Was it the permanency? Somewhat. But what it really was, I had to admit, was one pervasive thought - "What would people think???" This wasn't like me. Tattoos are so...well, not me!!! Would people see that and judge me? Dislike me instantly? Turn me down for a job? Think me unprofessional, stupid, sleazy, blah blah blah...? Why oh why oh WHY had I gotten it in such an obvious place?! What WAS I thinking???
And here I thought I was doing so much better at being me - discovering who Roxann really is - and who she - I -am meant to be. I was stilled by the realization that I was still very much immersed in the idea of who I should be.
When I was almost 300 pounds, I had a lot of rules about who and what I could be. I couldn't be the center of attention. I needed to blend into the background. No heavy makeup. Nothing red. Nothing "sexy" or "forward". Who was I to think I could try to look good? I had to be a perfect image of plainness and basically distinguish myself in no negative way. I had to be perfect in behavior, accomplishment, etc., etc., etc. I thought I had put some of those rules to rest when I shed some of the weight. But the insecure, timid, unworthy, self-accusatory me was still inside, and the tattoo caused her - me - to rediscover how much I hate her. Not because of who she is, but because of how much she limited me. How much she skewed my identity until even I had no idea who Roxann really was.
Now that I've had a week to get used to my tattoo, I'm starting to love it a little more each day. Because it represents none of the judgmental thoughts I might once have had about what kind of person gets a tattoo, (which, oddly enough, never applied to the many friends and family members I have who have them). All this tattoo is, is a little bit of encouragement; a reminder that my pulse beats beneath my skin there. That I'm alive. That I get to live a life now instead of watching from the sidelines and wishing I had a place in it all. And that my pulse quickens when one certain individual enters the room.
I live my life with no regrets. Every decision, every event, is a learning moment. I take from it what I can. This tattoo is not a mistake. It's a surprising lesson in letting go, doing what pleases me when it hurts no other, and discovering what surprising little moments life offers.
I may not remember where I ate, what exhibits I saw, or what I wore in Vegas five, ten, fifty years from now. But I will remember the exhilarating feeling of carrying my love on my arm, the bond that I felt with my husband for going through the same experience with me and for me (because, let's be honest - Kyle is no more a tattoo "person" than I thought I was) and a little bit of pain. Mostly, I'll look down at my arm and smile sweetly at the remembrance of ten of the most perfect days with my soul mate. And even a tattoo isn't as meaningful as that.