If you know me, you know I love tattoos. And if you really know me, you know I struggle with self-harm. Every now and then I try to count my tattoo’s and I always lose count around thirty. I have tattoos ranging from a few cuss words to a bible verse on my wrist. But, I can honestly say I don’t regret a single one of them. Over the years, I’ve accumulated hundreds of scars. Most of which are now covered with art. It’s hard for me to put into words how I felt when I got my first self-harm cover-up tattoo. It went from the scars that everyone questioned, to this wonderful piece of art. And yes, tattoos are art and I am the living canvas.
I’ve spent most of my life dealing with this, and it’s affected so many aspects of my life. What do you think of when you think of getting a tattoo? I bet you start to wonder how painful it’s going to be, and it is painful (even though I’ve fallen asleep during some). So is getting a tattoo or piercing a form of self-injury? I mean, both maim and change the body after all. I’ll be the first to admit that some of my tattoos did come about because I had the urge to hurt myself, but it’s not always about that. Tattoos aren’t done by one’s own hands, so really it’s not self-harm. For me, it’s mostly become a coping technique. A very expensive coping technique, haha.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like my depression is swallowing me whole. My life just isn’t where I thought it would be at twenty-five, but are any of y’all where you thought you’d be? No, really. I’m curious. I started harming myself in little ways the past couple of months. You know, like the cap of a pen or a paperclip. I know it’s not a healthy coping mechanism, but sometimes it’s all that works to calm me down. Self-injury isn’t uncommon. It happens way more thank you think. There have been studies to show that one in five people have harmed themselves intentionally at least once in their life.
Self-harm usually develops in the early teens, when you’re young and finding out who you are. Life was scarier back then, at least for me anyway. When I was that age (and maybe even now), I associated cutting with the release of my inner pain. Hurting myself made me feel something, it made me remember that I’m a person and I can feel things other than emptiness. Although, it wasn’t always cutting. I went through a period where I would go outside and punch the bricks of the house. God, I did it over and over and over again. And, do y’all remember bloody knuckles? I can’t believe we played those games, but it was my alternative to cutting at school. So I played, and I still have the scars to show for it.
I spent all of the school years wearing long sleeves, bracelets, or long pants to hide the cuts. I also had to avoid the cruelty of other kids. Kids can be cruel, and I had my fair share of cruelty in school. One time, this girl Katie told me I should kill myself. We were in eighth grade, and I was in a really vulnerable place. Kids (and some adults) don’t realize how much words can impact a person. I spent so much time covering up my cuts when I should have spent more time understanding why I was hurting myself. Therapy is real, and it helps. It’s not a fluke, and if you need help you should get it. It’s the right thing to do for yourself, and it doesn’t make you weak.
I love my tattoos. Every single one of them. I have a story for every single one, and they always bring a smile to my face. I know it can’t be an alternative for cutting, but it sure is a good way to express myself. Now, I don’t want to hurt myself for the rest of my life. I know I need help and I’m committed to the work it takes to get better. I’m gonna share my favorite tattoo story before I go. I got “fuck this shit” tattooed on my hip. No one ever sees it but it’s one of my most meaningful tattoos. I crawled out of a deep dark hole the day I got it, and I’ll always remember that feeling.
When my Pawpaw passed, Cameron passed shortly after. Life got turned upside down. When Tristan had me move out, I was really lost. I was in this place where I couldn’t find a single thing that was good about me. This one day I was curled up in bed, crying my eyes out and I started saying fuck this shit. I started to think about how shitty life can be but on the other hand, it can be so beautiful. There are always better days. So, I got up and drove to the tattoo parlor. I thought of my life, friends, family, and everything in between. Then I got it. I got “fuck this shit” to remind myself that yeah, life can suck but it gets better. It always gets better.