Life does not stop after divorce, it begins anew!
Nearly a week ago, I joined the ranks of about 25 percent of the US population (estimated in 2012) that flanks one or more tattoos. I toyed with the idea of getting one for years, before I actually summoned up the nerve to do it. Especially since it is a permanent mark that will be with me until the day I die.
A big part of the delay was that I wanted the tattoo to be something that meant something to me. I thought of putting my kids’ names, my fiancé’s name or our date, and though they are the most important people in my life, that didn’t make enough of a statement, not tattoo worthy if you will. (I’m laughing here thinking of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine decides who is sponge worthy before she has sex with them.) Anyway, I wanted the tattoo to have special meaning to me, since I will most likely not do it again.
The next dilemma was where I was going to put the tattoo. I wanted it in a place that could be seen and not seen upon will. For me, it came down to two places: my shoulder or my lower back. Talking to family and friends about this, I was surprised at the existing negative commentary I received about both of those placements. Many felt that the shoulder was too masculine, while the lower back was too sexually inviting, hence the derogatory term “tramp stamp”.
I have been surprised in general by the negative perception that still exists regarding tattoos, even with the increasing prominence of tattoos in the past decade. Just look around your own neighborhood and I am sure you will see tattoo parlors cropping up everywhere. Even more interesting is that women, make up the majority of the millions everyday who are getting tattooed. Women and tattoos also have a long history dating back to the 19th century. The popularity of it began to wane in the wake of the Great Depression and then began to surge again in the 70s during the feminist movement.
Yet despite the long history, I just read a disparaging article about how others view women with tattoos and the psychology behind it. Many of the points that were made in the article were ridiculous and antiquated, however, I did laugh at two of them: 1- she must be a party girl and more sexually active than her counterparts, and 2 – she must have had a rough childhood. Well, since I am in my fifties and have my tattoo all of six days now, all I can say is yes I do like to party, especially if it exclusively includes drinking wine; I am sexually active, though I do not know who the counterparts I am comparing my activity to are; and, my childhood was just about as rough as everyone else in my age range. But all that existed BEFORE I had my tattoo.
I believe that tattoos are just another way for people to express themselves like writing or painting. It is body art and it comes in all shapes and sizes. Yes, some may take it to an extreme, but just like art, it is personal and means something to the individual. For me, it was about empowerment and a bit of rebellion. I took control of my own wishes without listening to the naysayers. After so many years of being in a bad marriage, where I oftentimes felt like I didn’t have a voice, this to me, was my voice, and it was my choice. It was painful too, but like the adage, no pain no gain, I believe is true here and quite symbolic. After surviving the pain from my marriage and eventual divorce, I survived and thrived. None of it was in vain; in fact it has given me great clarity and empathy for others going through similar pain.
So after mulling around what tattoo to get, I decided on a heart with a phoenix intertwined. The significance to me is that I rose above the ashes (phoenix) and found love again (heart). And, as to where the tattoo is -- well that would be my lower back of course. Call me what you will, all I know is … I love it!!!
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