It was mid-2010. I’d been thinking about getting a tattoo for a couple of months. I had no idea about how to go about choosing a design or creating something meaningful to put on my body.
I walked into a local tattoo shop, looked at their portfolio, told them I wanted a particular design in purple ink, and got a tattoo on my left wrist. It is an ambigram in cursive: “serenity.”
Fast-forward maybe a month, and I got tired of the asymmetry of the tattoo on my left wrist not matching my right wrist. I’ve always been matchy-matchy like that. For instance, for my 40th birthday I decided to get a black camera tattoo behind my right ear. But something had to be done to the left ear, so I got my left ear’s cartilage pierced. I’m nothing if not consistent– I like to be edgy, but in a preppy way.
So, the Faith/Hope ambigram came to be on my right wrist as well.
I started talking about the tattoo thing in February of 2010 while I was hospitalized at Willowbrooke. I’d spent a year working as a food stamp/ Medicaid specialist and it was stressful, to say the least. My co-workers were nice but they were mostly jaded, convinced that 99% of the people who came in were trying to game the system. Maybe that was true, I don’t know. I got customer service awards for my interactions with clients but in the actual functions of the job (processing applications efficiently) I was terrible.
I ended up having a psychotic episode in the aftermath of leaving that job.
The me before that episode was never interested in tattoo’s. Piercings, yes….I’ve had both tragus pierced since I was 21, my belly button pierced twice, my tongue pierced three times. But I’d never been a tattoo girl.
I don’t know what flipped other than a desire to be edgier. I guess some part of me knew that a conventional job wasn’t really something I needed to be trying to do, so there was less of a reason to NOT do it.
Meant to Be
These days, I would have been much more particular about design. With the camera tattoo, I thought for about a year and a half about it. I tossed ideas about it on Pinterest and consulted with friends on designs. I carefully considered placement and ability to hide it.
In 2010, though, I just walked in having no clue what I would walk out with. I knew I wanted things on my wrists, but I wasn’t particular otherwise.
In hindsight, I’ve learned to live with them. Even though it took me months if not years to recover from that psychosis, I think even then I knew I needed the reminders that I need to have faith and that I need hope and serenity in my life. Most people wouldn’t put those reminders on their body permanently, I guess, but I think now there are worse things I could have chosen.