Tattoo Therapy

Barbershops, Beauty Shops, Nail salons, Local Dive bar… these places have always been the go to when you need to get things off your chest. How many times have you chatted with a bartender or barber/stylist or nail technician about your life woes? Even the movies portray these places as a great place to get some thinking out. Places you go when you need to vent or just talk things out with someone other than yourself.

For me my outlet is tattoos. I struggle with depression and anxiety in daily life and I don’t really talk about it. Something that I have just accepted as part of my life and it’s not going anywhere, so I better get used to it. It’s hard to talk about it with close family members who really don’t understand what you are going through or how to help you. Most times you don’t end up needing actual help but just someone to listen.

For me, I’m not good at keeping my emotions in check. I tend to ‘think I’m fine’ which is just me ignoring the problem. Then emotions start to compound. This is when things get ugly. Seemingly small things end up causing anger, frustration, and outbursts. My capacity to deal calmly with a 5-year old and 1.5 year old gets significantly smaller and I end up with little patience. To be honest it’s not fair to my kids and I know that. I try to take that step back and think before responding to a situation but when emotions are high sometimes that doesn’t happen and I end up yelling. I hate yelling at my kids… It’s one more thing that adds to my onslaught of emotions. The guilt… Guilt of not being a good mom, not listening to them, not comforting them… when in all reality, it simply is me not having anything in my tank to give out.

Have you ever been there? Things continue to pile on top of each other until it feels like the world is closing in. Everything gets so heavy that it’s hard to pull yourself out of bed. You have so many things to carry out but it’s all so overwhelming that all you can do is sit in the dark and cry… The saying goes ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and so you need to take care of yourself first.

I get it… I’ve been there…

What do you do when the world feels like it’s collapsing on top of you? How do you get yourself centered again? Get your emotions in check, wrangle what feels like an immense amount of responsibilities flailing in the wind.

For me I’ve learned that my greatest outlet is a tattoo. Now I’m not someone who takes a permanent alteration of my body lightly. I’ve known what I wanted for tattoos for many years, just never found the right artist to do the work. I wanted someone who would be as invested in the piece as I was. Someone who genuinely cared about the meaning behind the pieces and was able to turn out beautiful artwork. When you find the right artist, you just know it. I found mine; on a whim I tried her out for some smaller and more simple pieces. What I got was a whole lot more. My artist allows me to be human; she listens to me when I have challenges that I need to vent about; she doesn’t judge me for any aspect of my life or mental health; and she genuinely cares about her clients. She puts an amazing amount of effort, combined with incredible talent to give me memorable and meaningful tattoos.

The process of getting a tattoo for me is methodical, and purposeful. It allows my brain to focus on one thing. It wipes away the weight of the world that seems to be crashing, and forces me to be in the moment and focused on one thing. It’s a release that is very therapeutic. A physical release of the pain that I feel on a daily basis. As the needle hits the skin, with every stroke a little bit of tension and pain escapes. Emotionally; little by little I’m able to let go of the things that have had me feeling strangled. It allows me to forget about everything that was unnecessarily burdening me. I can be vulnerable… In this space, at this time. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I don’t, but the tears do not reflect the pain of the tattoo but rather the peace that fills my soul.

I’m able to reset… back to ‘factory settings’ you could say. Yes I need to take better care of my mental health and stay on top of my challenges… But I know that when the day comes where I feel like I can’t take anymore, that things are beyond repair, or I cannot handle one more thing… I know I can call my artist, and she can help me create something incredible to represent this season of my life. I am forever grateful to have found someone who can assist me in my healing.