Fresh ink feels like painful liberation for me. My first tattoo was made of symbols that helped me to remember that my beliefs are bound by the meaning I assign to them. I took symbols that hold different meanings in Christianity and Wicca, and made it mean something unique to me. My second tattoo is pictured below. The third was butterflies. I was told that my family being torn apart was a rebirthing. I've carried 7 children in 6 pregnancies and childbirth was never as painful as the destruction of my family and our dreams. I chose the image of a butterfly and live out a daily crushing of my chrysalis, then I blog about it here. My 4th tattoo is covering number 2.
When I got #2, I had given my ex three sons and seven years and I couldn't imagine him not being my every tomorrow because I didn't think I'd need a contingency plan. The summer my maternal grandmother passed, I saw his love and commitment and his carrying my needs and decided it was time to mark my flesh with what was more than skin deep. It wasn't enough to carry his children. I wanted strangers to be able to see where my devotion rested. We were in Big Bear on one of our family vacations and I got his name the same weekend he got our children's names on his leg. I don't remember what all of his tattoos look like anymore. It's been so long that even those memories are fading, though I would recognize them if I saw them again. The name is his, but the bee was about my nickname for him. I called him my "Honeybee" because he used to make me feel like I was his queen. A hive dies without its queen, but he seems to have learned to be something else without me. He's learned to be a great Dad without me.
Getting his name covered was the first thought I had when he chose to leave our marriage in March of last year, but the timing was about not wanting to act on a feeling that might have been temporary and not really having disposable income.
Mr. Monster has an apprentice named Melanie that helped me pick out a design. She is sweet and friendly and so intuitive about the designs that would work and the ones that wouldn't. We picked a design we could cover the name with and I chose this one for the flowers with mainly four petals. It's symbolic of our new family size, although one of the flowers has 5 petals. The original bee was sharpened, and two more were added for my kids, who keep our busy hive humming as my baby bees. They've always been my baby bees since their Dad was "Honeybee." I also call them "Pumpkin" . . . "Punky" . . . or "Punk," depending on their behavior. When I'm in an affectionate mood, they go by "Munchies" because my munchkins are always munching on something. Melanie sketched out the design a bit and then transferred it over the old one. I was pretty thrilled. She then started rough sketching baby bees around the design with Sharpie markers.
The shop has a mellow vibe with a joy that just wraps around everyone there. They were happy doing what they do and that attitude made it a wonderful experience. My 3rd tattoo was done by a woman with such a strong hand that I was bruised from the pressure for days. Mr. Monster was strong, but it was a controlled strength where I only felt the pain of the needle as he sang along to the music he played. I remember he played the Beach Boys and Morrissey but I was mainly just enjoying his craft.
When I got my first tattoo, my mom tried to stab it with a fork. I think the fear of her reaction made me lie to her about it last night. Each inking must break her heart a little more. I told her I was asking about prices and she said it was too early because she still has hope in the marriage I no longer want. Mainly I wanted my boys to be the first to see it, but I lied and have since called to apologize and come clean to her. If I have to lie about what I'm doing, then I feel shame and shouldn't do it, but I love what I did and covered it in remorse for my lie and I came clean. I was worried about how the boys would feel in covering up their Dad's name. It was a topic that never came up in my explanation or their questions about it's meaning.
The kids like having their names on me, and I tried to honor our past with our present. It was originally a bee with a name that embodied what my future was. Now it's three bees and three names because we took what we had and made it grow. I kept the original bee because there was love for many years. There was commitment. Half of the time I still have a busy beehive.
This morning I was looking closely at it and I can still see the original, but I've had it for nearly 9 years. It was so much a part of my body that I wouldn't expect it to disappear. I would expect it to fade into memory as new paths are created. I don't need to erase memories, but cherish the ones that were meaningful and beautiful while allowing space for a new life with new traditions and deeper meanings to grow. I can appreciate the ways my ex made me grow and the ways in which I flourished as a woman under his love and attention. I have clarity on the ways in which I was crowded into a smaller space and the ways in which I compromised myself away for who he wanted me to be, failing both of us in those attempts. There's freedom now that I found my remote control and it's always in my own hands.