Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Feeling Low, Flying High

There are points in everyone’s lives when we wish we had an angel looking over us. Highs and lows are a normal part of the daily cycles but when depression takes a hold it can seem relentless.  This is for everyone who has struggled with their inner demons.  

Rachelle would seem to have it all: a loving mother, the glamorous looks of a young lady already modeling at 14, good health. Yet that is only what we might see from the outside.

Rachelle says:  my tattoo of angel wings represent many things... liberty, independence, growth.

There was a point in my life when I was so very unhappy. I cried myself to sleep every night.  I felt alone and unwanted.  Especially in high school I found life very hard. I was so self-conscious. When I looked in the mirror and just saw a face filled with acne. I felt the boys didn’t want to talk to me, and girls were especially catty with me. Studying in my 2nd language, I spoke with an accent, making me standout even more. At times I was also openly bullied.  In my eyes, life was unbearable and I had no self-esteem. I lived in fear of being asked to do anything in the front of my class mates.

This depressive state lasted for many years and it carried over into my home life. While I try to keep a smile on my face and be independent I was often sad and empty. I entered into a long term relationship and it started to go very bad when I felt I could not get the attention and support I craved. After two years, we were always fighting and I’d find myself even more alone.

At some point I realized that my negativity and hollow existence was leading nowhere. I did  not recognize myself. Where was that fun and smiley girl I had once been before high school.  I needed to get a hold of myself and change my outlook. I started to change my friends, hanging out with people who were successful and filled with ambition. If someone was a poor influence I’d avoid them. I also found the strength to leave bad relationships, and move on rather than just lament my current reality.  

I truly believe that I’ve learned a lot - both on my own but also from many others. I am very proud of my mom raising me as a single parent and going back to college at the same time. That was a powerful example. Today, I am very proud of what I have achieved in life. I feel I’ve learned so much but also realize I’m still learning. My wings represent all of this... liberty independence growth.

I’m still growing, ready to achieve more in life, and fly even higher. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Heart Must Go On

Emily has several tattoos. She is a romantic and a lady of fortitude. When you meet her, an inner strength is immediately conveyed. We also saw in "Death before Dishonour" her deep sense of loyalty. What is not obvious is a life of challenges and hardships. 

She states “I have many tattoos. They all have meaning and are very important to me.  I have no childhood pictures, and I own very little so that are all I really have. Each of my tattoos is for a very special purpose."

Here are two more examples:

Heart on my sleeve – This one was after a miscarriage. The event was especially traumatic since it was brought on by a severe beating. 

This was perhaps the lowest point in my life. I has hurting and felt alone.

I wanted to do some of the tattoo myself and I did.  It felt good to inflict pain… "sometimes you need to feel physical pain just to know are still alive".  

The heart will be broken, but broken lives on

I had these words tattooed on my arm the day after mom died. It is perhaps my most impulsive tattoo. The words are a Lord Byron quote. 

Mother's hold a special place in our hearts. Losing one's mother amplifies our personal mortality. 

It is also however a milestone many face. To cope is hard but as you ponder the event and memories it is when we realize that this is the time to look forward, live on and be the person our mothers would be proud of. 

Losing a child, losing a mother. There are many points in our lives where we feel alone, abandoned and heart broken. This quote often reminds me, I need to keep moving forward. Indeed, though broken, the heart lives on and a new future awaits. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Toxic Relations

My tattoos represent personal strength and growth. If my tattoo tale can inspire even one person to move on from a toxic and abusive relationship then I would be thrilled.

My 1st bad relationship goes back to my college days, when I was just 18 years old.  I felt locked in a very abusive and controlling relationship. Over a period of 2 years my life was hell, yet I stuck around and we were even secretly engaged. Life however was far from normal.

I could not go to beach wearing a bikini, was never allowed to hang with his male friends, when he travelled he’d come back and demand to know what I did in his absence – always 20 questions. To pass the time I wanted to model but he forbade it. His controlling manner and bad influences lead to a life of drug use.  With the help and support of my family I finally left him 2 ½ year later – I was not quite 20 years old and this already had a profound impact on me, perhaps even setting the stage for relationships to come.

My 2 most prominent tattoos tell this story.
I have them on my back; a huge tree and a dragon.

The dragon was my 1st tattoo and represents inner strength. It stands on a few Chinese symbols that represent FAMILY.  They were always there to support me; my mom and I are very close. She's my rock. Without her I may well still be trapped or worse. It takes great strength to leave a relationship – even a bad one. The Tree Tattoo was started back then – it represents growth. I knew I needed to kick the drugs and heal my soul, but the process is slow.

Morally bruised I jumped into yet another bad relationship.  I gravitated to a 2nd fellow and this one was emotionally abusive. For 8 months he not only abused me verbally me but was cheating on me with younger teenager girls.  I gathered my courage once again and left him. 


Resolved to try harder,
I got a 3rd tattoo, this one on my leg reading
Live Laugh Love.  

I then met a 3rd fellow who got me even deeper into harder drugs – not just smoking anymore, he added pills to the mix.  He too was abusive and it got very serious.  I was held hostage and beaten while trying to leave him.  

My neighbour heard screaming and called my brother. A bad brawl ensued and my brother suffered stitches on his lip and I ended up with a fractured arm.  If not for him and the 911 call I would have been hospitalised in much worse shape.

I had to press charges on 7 counts. Going to court and retelling the story was very hard and lasted for nearly a year and a half. The hardest part was his constant attempts to try and come back into my life.

My mom helped me through the detox process at her home. We’d take long walks in the bush and she’d help when I was ill. I eventually moved to a new city determined to start fresh.  

The tree tattoo on my back was done in two steps. The bottom of the tree has the start date of my sobriety.  Half the tree is a typical bare skeleton of a truck, sparse, struggling to survive. Just before the move to Ottawa, I added leaves to show growth and progress. I wanted to signify a change for the better. The tree then evolves to birds which signify family (purple: brother, white: dad, blue: mom, red: Michelle; all our birth stones)

Therapy has suggested I wanted to try and FIX these guys. Perhaps my relationships are linked to a father who was present in his own way, but not in the manner a little girl needed. The part that really matters is that like the tree I am maturing and growing. My current relationship is a positive one with an old friend I’ve known since I was 12.  

My self-esteem and health are vastly improving as I branch out, reach for the sky and embrace a new life.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Miss Panda

Not all Tattoos have an equal level of significance.
Some for family, others friends, yet others for a special memory.  

Like many, Kelsey has a number of tattoos dedicated to her family. 

The three big stars are for her mom, dad and brother each of the others for uncles, aunts and other who passed away. 

Their prominent placement has her frequently explaining their significance. 
Less visible is a large Panda on her side. This is mostly seen at the beach when her mid-section is exposed. 

Why the amazing Panda?

...  when I worked with a carnival as a ride-tech they gave me the nickname "Panda". 

A co-worker said I look cute and cuddly like a Panda, but truth be told a Panda is a wild animal and can tear you limb from limb. 

I too have a tough side and when pushed too far will lash out.  That name kinda stuck. 

Me and a tattoo artist designed it together. She free handed it on my rib but each step was looked at by me first. 

Today it reminds me I'm a complex and interesting lady with many facets. 

One of these is also my love of music and the soothing effect it has on me.  

I have had counts of depression and found music could be more of a comfort to me than other people. Others can be self centered, sometimes even cruel and judgemental.  

The tattoos on my back signify my love of music and its deep importance to me and my soul.