It’s been a week since I had my 3 new (well, 2 new and a cover-up) tattoos done , and I’ve had a new observation. As I’ve watched my tattoos heal, I realize how much the process reflects not just the symbols I’ve inked into my body, but also how growth happens in life. Tattoos are art, and I believe there is an art in healing, too.
The process of getting my tattoos was painful. It didn’t kill me obviously, but it hurt like hell. The one shown here (an interpretation of a mandala—a symbol in Hindu and Buddhism that has several interpretations, but most consistently represents completeness, balance, order in the universe) on the inside of my wrist/forearm was especially painful in certain areas. Plus, no one likes the sight of a machine jabbing a needle near your veins and such, but I digress. The initial pain eventually dulled into a lingering soreness. A constant reminder of what I had just endured.
Over the past week, I’ve cared for it as the wounds scabbed over. I applied an ointment multiple times a day to help the process, but it was still itchy and sore. But the past few days, the scabs started to rub off. No pain, just a messy smattering of black confetti across my arms. As the final pieces are still flaking away, like the remnants of a sunburn (like a black girl knows from a sunburn, but I’ve seen them!), I see the final version of the tattoo as it will be forever. No longer the pitch black of fresh ink, but instead the slightly more realistic deep dark gray that is imprinted in my skin.
My body is forever changed. But what I’m left with is, in my opinion, something stronger and much more beautiful . The tattoo is a part of me now, and while it represents the pain I endured to get it, the symbol itself is more importantly a reminder to myself to consider the balance of life, the universe and my place within it. It is a reminder to stop and consider things beyond whatever is in front of me at any one moment—to seek wholeness.
In getting tattoos, I was subjected to a situation (of my own volition) that caused pain and took time to get over, but when it is healed, I am better for it. Not a far cry from how we have to manage difficulties in life.
Tattoos have a power and magic all their own. They decorate the body but they also enhance the soul. -Michelle Delio
How do you manage pain and healing in your life? Is the pain worth the inevitable growth?