Last summer, to celebrate my 45th birthday, I got my first tattoo.
I have wanted a tattoo since I was 12 years old. This was about the time my parents separated. My father was not a traditional kind of guy. He had a long hair, a full beard, a few tattoos and drove a Harley Davidson. Yep…my dad was a biker. He drove that Harley right up to our state capitol with his 12 year old daughter behind him to spend a week with hundreds of other bikers to protest the helmet law.
The group, which for the record was not a gang, camped together for the week. The highlight of the trip was a helmetless convoy to the capital building where we filled the observation area and sat in on the legislative session. I don’t know if it was the House or the Senate, but I do remember the sound of hundreds of bikers chanting, “let those who ride decide.” One of our government representative held up a piece of paper that said, ‘ helmet law sucks.’ I wish I knew who that guy was.
There were two tattoo artists set up in the camping area. All week I watched people walking around with their brand new tattoos. I begged my father to let me get one. I wanted a mushroom on my shoulder. As unconventional as my father was, he wasn’t going to return his preteen daughter to her mother with a tattoo. Regardless of whether or not either of the artists would have done it, the answer was no.
So my tattoo got put on hold.
When I was 19, I was close to getting one. I was hanging out with a guy that had a couple. A few days before my first date with the man who would become my husband, I watched my friend get another tattoo. I started thinking about what I would want. When I shared this information with the man who would become my husband, he was less than enthusiastic. That was probably when I realized there was a certain stigma attached to women with tattoos. Ladies didn’t do things like that back then. If you had a tattoo, you probably weren’t a lady in mainstream societies eyes.
So my tattoo got put on hold.
I really didn’t think about it again for over 20 years. I started considering it again about a year before I got it. I shared this information with my husband and he was less than enthusiastic. However, I could do what I want.
I went to a consolation. I put down a deposit. I made an appointment for a week later. What a long stressful week. I gave my husband the opportunity to be the voice of reason, but he wasn’t going to tell me I couldn’t do it. Right or wrong, it was my decision to make. Up until the moment the needle made contact with my body, I wasn’t sure if I would go through with it. Once the needle made contact with my skin, I knew it was to late to change my mind.
Then a funny thing happened. The world stopped. The music that was to loud faded in the distance. The only two people in the world at that moment were the tattoo artist and me. He was in his own zone once he started tattooing. The feeling was so amazing that I understand why people want to do it again and again.
Then it was over.
When it was over, I felt shell shocked. I drove home in a daze. I was very self conscious about the tattoo and there was immediate regret. What was I thinking.
Once it healed, I started the plans for my second tattoo. I can’t do a sleeve because of work, but I have tossed the idea of getting my whole calf tattooed around. I was obsessed with thinking about it.
Then a funny thing happened. I started taking antidepressants and the urge to get another tattoo is gone. I have half heartily attempted to research if there is a connection with getting tattoos and depression without much success. The only thing I saw was an unconfirmed source stating a medical organization grouped tattooing into the self mutilation category, the same as cutting yourself.
I no longer regret my tattoo. I am no longer self conscious about it. It is a part of me. I am no longer planning another one. Not to say it won’t happen, but there is no uncontrollable urge to get another.