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Health

Do I Want Another Tattoo?

Do I Want Another Tattoo?

You know how mothers get pregnant with a second or third or fifth child and in the midst of the postpartum healing period someone asks them, “When are you going to have another?” And their eyes bug out of their heads as they shout, “NEVER!”

I’m in that spot with tattoo healing right now.

I got a new tattoo on the night of April 16, which is celebrated as Project Semicolon Day. I had participated the previous two years by drawing a semicolon on my wrist to signify the fact that my story is not over yet; I could have ended it, but I choose to keep going. I decided to make it permanent, because semicolons are the best punctuation. Plus, I’m an editor. Plus, you know, meaning and feelings and stuff.

Semicolon Project Tattoo

My previous tattoo takes up my whole forearm and really only hurt when the tattoo artist crossed the vein at the center of the top of my wrist. It’s also on my left arm. I don’t do much with my left arm.

Turns out I do a lot with my right wrist.

My semicolon is turned to face the side so that both I and my audience can see it properly. It’s also off-set a little so it does a little wrap-around thing because I know what I like and I like off-set things.

It’s also exactly where my wrist rests when I’m typing on the laptop. Or writing with a pen on paper. Or doing absolutely anything. I have bumped it on doors, on drawers, in the car and in the shower. I have accidentally scratched it with a fingernail and with a cardboard box.

This little puppy didn’t hurt much when I got it. The outline doesn’t go over the center of my wrist (smart off-set thing there, you see) and the filling in, as usual, just felt hot. Now it’s scabby, like it’s supposed to be, feels like a equator-formed sunburn, and if I bump it off one more freaking thing, I swear I’m going to scream my head off.

So no, today I do not want another tattoo.

Ask me again in about one week when it’s done sloughing off the scabs and skin. The answer will be yes: Sweet peas on my left outer shoulder. Note the left. I think all tattoos will now be relegated to the left arm. My right arm does too much.

But no, I don’t want any more babies, thankyouverymuch.

Categories
Health

I’m Healing

I'm Healing

Today marks one year since my maternal grandmother passed away.

It dawned on me early in the morning and stuck with me throughout the day. I didn’t have time to call my mom to check in with her until evening because work, kids, dog, and a migraine that wanted to be but I kept fighting. The migraine still might win; we’ll see.

Last year, at the end of this difficult weekend, a woman I had known online for quite some time made some unkind statements about how I posted and processed my grief online. I no longer know that woman, for telling any grieving person that they’re “doing it wrong” is simply unacceptable. My online community rallied around me and held me up, not just after the death of my grandma, but throughout all last autumn which marks the worst depressive episode through which I’ve yet lived.

I’ve been reading through my writings from last fall, both online and off, and it feels as though I’m reading the works of someone else entirely. I can see, hear, and feel the pain dripping off each word I typed here, each word scrawled throughout my many journals. I really have no rhyme or reason as to why certain pieces of writing end up in one journal or another, but they do. It makes following along both difficult and intriguing. Why this journal for this entry? Why this color pen? It’s like decoding my own state of mind at the time.

Which is to say: dark.

Decoding my very dark state of mind last year has felt rather empowering. Yes, looking at how lost, how grief-stricken, how deeply depressed, how desperately alone in my mind I was lets me see how far I’ve really come. I almost fully lost me, quite literally, and here I am, fighting a migraine because, hey, I like being alive. Without pain, even.

I am still healing, of course. I’m healing from the losses of my grandmothers, still making sense of the losses I experienced last year in quick succession. I’m healing from a depression that nearly killed me. I’m healing the parts of me that need compassion and self-forgiveness, though that process remains slow and arduous—but I’m doing it. I’m healing, also slowly, the perfectionist parts of me; the ones that don’t like to start new things out of fear of not doing them properly; the ones that pit myself against myself in a never-ending war of I can do anything better than… me; the ones that look to others and see only their successes, not their struggles, and then point back at me and whisper, “Failure.”

I’m healing.

Maybe that old back injury of mine taught me a thing or two about healing. All these years later, three years after starting to run again after two years of non-stop, debilitating pain, I still occasionally have a “bad back day.” I’ll wake up from having slept wrong—or from having pushed too hard the day before—and I’ll fear the worst. It’s back. I’ll never run again. This is it. But then I get out of bed. I do my stretches. I take some Aleve. I drink water and move my body. I wait a day or two, or even sometimes three. And then it’s gone once again. If I can accept the recurrence of physical pain with some initial trepidation but then follow through with a plan of action, then maybe I can look at my emotional and mental healing with the same sort of view.

Maybe.

I feel a little quiet today, looking ahead—or behind—at the next few days, a year ago. I also feel thankful, beyond what words can ever fully convey, to be here, to be healthy, to be whole. I feel most thankful for each and every person who reached out, stood by me, emailed, called, texted, tweeted, Facebooked, messaged, sent gifts and flowers, and just generally supported me while I couldn’t support myself. I am the luckiest to have each and every one of you.