Monday, February 23, 2009

sacred ink

When I was younger, I never thought I would get a tattoo. But, today, I got my second one. As someone who cycles through phases of stability and depression, I am often in a state where I lose faith in myself. When I am stable, I am confident in my ability to achieve my dreams and can see my good qualities. When I'm depressed, I think that the "stable me" is wrong -- I have no talents, I'm not smart, I can't function like normal people, and I'm incapable of achieving my goals. The first tattoo I got was a reminder to my depressed self that there is a version of me that knows that these are distortions. I have "touch the sky" tattooed in white on my left wrist. I see it every day, but others don't see it unless I show it to them. It's a permanent, private affirmation.

Some girls get tattoos of the eating disorder recovery symbol upon leaving treatment. But I don't see myself as always being defined - or ever being defined - as someone who recovered from an eating disorder. I want to be someone who uses the skills I learned in treatment to battle all of the difficult things life throws out me, the eating disorder being just one. So, to remind me of this, I got a tattoo on my right shoulder that says "above the storm." The idea came to me in a reflective writing group a couple of weeks ago; it was part of a quote I liked.

"Your hopes, dreams and aspirations are legitimate. They are trying to take you airborne, above the clouds, above the storms, if you only let them." --William James


  1. I did not even know white tattoos existed... I like it :-)

  2. I have the words "freedom" and "respect" on the inside and outside of my left wrist. The word freedom reminds me that I am free from abuse. Free from the abuse that my Uncle put me through when he molested me for 17 years, free from the mental, physical and sexual abuse that my husband subjected me for 15 years and free from the 37 years of abuse (bulimia, cutting, drugs, sex and two suicide attempts) that I have put myself through. Respect reminds me everyday that I need to have respect for myself so I am no longer a victim. There is a lot to be said about private affirmations.

  3. i had no idea white tattoos existed... but i love the idea. ive wanted to get something for so long but ive never had any idea what to get, and i wanted it to be something that i would see and know about and that would not be public to everybody else. i love the idea so much. i also love the idea of the word "freedom"
    i too am finally free from the physical and sexual abuse i went through. and i continue to fight for my freedom from anorexia and self-injury
    thank you so much for posting this

  4. also, i just want to add that i went to renfrew too, only i went to the one in philly. life changing, really.

  5. I love this. Anorexia almost took my life 11 years ago this May. I have struggled with various forms of eating disorders since then and I'm finally starting to feel like I'm dealing with my issues in a way that will allow for lasting happiness. I came across your picture while looking for a way to help me remember my survival and keep me going when I am having trouble. Thank you for sharing your picture.

  6. White tattoo? Interesting! Dear, i am glad that your ordeal is over. Thanks to the bulimia treatment center and of course yourself and the people around you who continuously supported you along the way.