No Regrets, Just Memories?

I have several tattoos. And I confess; I also have several cover-ups, and am planning several more.

Everyone told me I’d regret getting ink…and they were all sorta wrong and sorta right at the same time. I love tattoos. They give me something about my appearance that I like and that’s easy to control (unlike, say, hormone therapy, which is out of my control in almost every way). Tattoos and piercings have, odd though it might seem, helped me struggle through some dark, tangled times in my life. Also, I just have a need to modify my appearance.

This is not me being some kind of freak – body modification of some type or another has been around pretty much as long as human culture has been around. We’ve been piercing, tattooing and otherwise changing our natural appearance for so much of our history that I think it’s some kind of built-in drive. After all, almost all of us get haircuts, right? And trim our nails? And wear clothes? Maybe even dye our hair? Most women (and some guys) wear make-up and shave their legs and underarms, and even the most reserved, conservative individuals, who think that navel piercings and pink hair are the work of the Devil, don’t bat an eyelash at a pierced earlobe or a bottle brunette. There are things we don’t think of as ‘body modification’ because they’re socially ubiquitous, but when you think about it we’re all modifying our appearance, either temporarily or permanently, all the time. It seems to be an integral part of how human beings form a sense of individual and group identity.

So anyway, back to me and my ‘mistakes’. I didn’t have a prayer, in a lot of ways. I’ve spent so much of my life being pretty seriously mentally ill that I didn’t have a very good grip on my identity – trying to ‘logic my way out’ of gender dysphoria didn’t help in that department, either. But I’d never really known anything else, so I didn’t realize what was going on. Also, once upon a time I was a committed Christian. I don’t mean a half-crazed, gay-bashing tyrant screaming at all the sinful unbelievers about how they’re destined for hellfire and damnation, I just mean that I took my faith really seriously and built my life around it. Pretty much like I do now, actually, except that Loki showed up and dragged me kicking and screaming into polytheism. This means that I now have several religious tattoos that are no longer appropriate.

If I could peel off all my ink like stickers and start afresh, I would. Then I’d sit and spend ages coming up with some kind of cohesive, add-to-able theme so it all looked perfect and impressive. But life doesn’t work that way, does it? There are *plenty* of things I’ve done and said that I’d love to somehow change or simply erase out of existence. Of all the (many) mistakes that I’ve made in my life, tattoos have been by far the least damaging and easiest to fix.

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