Life, Death, Rebirth and Renewal… Tattoo

I got my new tattoo this past Saturday. I got to the shop around 1p, left around 7p. Total time spent working on the outline was 4.5-5 hours. Keep in mind this is only the outline. It will be fully colored but the outline needs to heal first, and I will most likely have to do 2 more sittings of similar duration to complete the color. A lot of the color will be freehanded so there is no outline for that. The depth and shading, the fire aspects, none of which can be seen now, though hopefully you can see where this is going.  It did not hurt at all. Currently it itches like mad. I always forget what the healing stage is like.  I’m not sure how long I’ll keep this post public as I feel like I’m basically naked on the internet. I also can’t take a picture of my back so you can use your imagination to fill in the rest of the wing going up my back.


Tattoo:
This is a Skeletal Phoenix. It is a marriage of two concepts that have been a part of my life for nearly as long as I can remember; the Phoenix and Death. What they represent to me is something I need to keep with me. I tend to lose my ability to hold onto things, people, concepts… and this is something I need to never forget. I need to constantly remind myself so that I do not fall to hopelessness with I am prone to. Talk about a need for some permanence.  
Every year, or two, or three, my life starts over. I crash, or burn, or both and I have to pick up and begin anew. Each time a little different than the time before, but it keeps going.
Phoenix – Phoenix imagery is just that: renewal and rebirth from the ashes of the past. I can never fully forget my past, but I can learn from it; leaving the char behind me and hopefully heal into a better place than I had been before.
Death – I’ve also been constructing my own Tarot deck. Meditating and drawing each card. While working on my Major Arcana, I got to my Death card and {a variant of} this image came to me immediately. I sketched the basic idea the minute I thought of it and knew I had to have this as a permanent reminder for myself.
If you’ve ever studied the Tarot you will know that Death, is not representative of physical death. Interpretations vary slightly by deck but some of the meanings include:
Ending of a cycle – Loss – Conclusion – Sadness – Transition into a new state – Psychological transformation – Finishing up – Regeneration – Elimination of old patterns – Being caught in the inescapable – Good byes – Deep change.
Typically it implies an end, possibly of a relationship or interest, and therefore implies an increased sense of self-awareness. An opening of new opportunities from the ending of those previous. When one region in your life empties, there opens a space to allow something new to replace it.
The banner the Firebird holds says ‘ Bás ’ which is Gaelic for ‘Death’.
The Death card is generally depicted as skeletal so the combination of this imagery along with the phoenix inspired this idea of a skeletal phoenix.
In my struggles with my BPD, my life, becoming who I will become, the nature of life in general; it is strikingly obvious to me why all of these things are a part of me.  This is a card of change. Transition. In the death of one thing springs the potential life of something else. Endings are not only endings, but also beginnings. Endings bring change. In change there is hope. With hope there is the possibility for a better life. A life worth living.
So here you go.


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Art, ink, and anxiety…

Nerves.
I am extremely excitedly. I am intensely anxious.
Not my tattoo
Tattoo appointment is at 1’clock today. Tattoo artist sent me the last few changes yesterday. I absolutely love everything about it now. I feel so horribly guilty that I’ve had him rework things a few times (the original drawing plus 2 alterations). When I went in I was afraid he was going to tell me he couldn’t do it. Then, he said he could no problems and I was elated. I really liked the concept he came up with but some things were off. My stomach was in knots to sit down with him again to ask for some changes. Having seen the differences between the two I could see the perfect combination and told him my thoughts. I was absolutely terrified to do this. I was positive that he’d tell me I was too much of a pain in the ass, too difficult, too SOMETHING, and no longer want to work with me. Tell me to f- myself and take a hike.
Everyone keeps reassuring me that for a piece this big it’s not unusual to do a few alterations. It is a permanent piece; it needs to be what I want it to be.
He’s really a brilliant artist though and I’m afraid I’m insulting him and he’s not going to like me because I didn’t trust his judgment.
I’m freaking out about whether I should be doing this at all, but I think that’s just the pre-appt jitters. I get that for a lot of things because I have time to over think, over analyze, ruminate, let my mind run away with me, go over how things would be nice and normal without the change, but then again how neat this is going to look after. The anticipation before is ALWAYS worse than actually having it done. I’ve wanted this for almost a year now. I keep reminding myself of that. I’m nervous, but I’m over thinking. I need to calm down my brain. Find something to occupy my time, and go.
I’m also very worried about how I’m going to exercise after this.  I know I’ll have to take a few days off from pretty much any non basic movement. I can’t have fabric rubbing on this while it heals. Which means my daily 1.5 hr workouts are not really an option for a while. My body image and fear of putting on weight aside… Exercise, intense exercise, has so far proven to be the best thing for controlling my anxiety and depression.  I’m worried about how taking time off will affect me.
I go on vacation for 8 or 9 days ever year where I don’t have gym access, but I’m walking all day, taking dance classes and performing at night, so it’s not like I’m sedentary. I went to see my parents over Easter and didn’t work out for 4 days. Those 4 days were the longest I’ve gone, in probably 6 years, without some kind of directed activity. Seriously. I sprained my neck a couple years back and in complete opposition to doctors orders I was back in the gym 2 days later. One day off I can justify. Two days I can get by with minimal guilt. Three days I’m hitting the anxiety point. Four days and I’m ready to crawl the walls. I actually feel nauseous and sick if I can’t keep to a regular exercise schedule. My anxiety takes over.  I’ve tried to think of ways to counter this. I know an incredible amount of upper/lower body lifting, abs, pilates etc. that I can do in a manner that won’t inhibit healing, so I’ll be able to keep up with my toning. I don’t know what to do about cardio yet. Ugh.
And finally, it’s Friend’s 10th year anniversary BBQ/Party thing today. I’m fighting with myself on whether I should make an appearance. He wants me there, he’s said as much, that he’ll be sad and miss me if I’m not there. I’m worried this will throw up a bigger wall between us if I don’t go. I flat out told him I didn’t care to see the gift he was thinking about for the wife. Whenever one of them brings up the party I’ve quieted and/or redirected the conversation. I haven’t flat out said I don’t want to be there, but I’m sure Friend has picked up on it by this point. At first I said it would depend on my moods, which is true. Now that I have my tattoo appointment I’ve told him it’s going to depend on how much I’m hurting.
Colliding thoughts:
He missed my birthday, he’s fallen through on a couple things that he said he would do and I really needed him to do. I haven’t. So far I’ve always been there to help and support him when he’s needed it. Maybe it’s time he realized what that feels like. 
If I go I’ll be able to say that despite the hurt I was a good friend and was there when he wanted me to be.  Is this petty? You couldn’t even do these things you said you’d do, but I can be the better friend and continue to do what you want. For the record, from the start I’ve told him it was unlikely that I would be there. Unlike him, I’ve never said, yes I’ll do this, and then not done it. I may be a lot of things, but I keep my word.
He knows I don’t really want to be there, he’s guilting me because he wants me there regardless.
He wants me there. He is my best friend and I do care. Because I care I don’t want him to be upset.
I’m afraid that if I don’t go he’ll be really mad at me. Instead of avoiding awkward feeling s by not going, it will compound them because it’ll be obvious that things still bother me. Driving a deeper rift into our friendship.  
I constantly acquiesce to what other people (that I care about) want instead of doing what is best for me.
I know mentally this is not going to be good for me. I still harbor a lot of resentment for how they treated me. In most situations it’s fine, but it’s going to be pretty much the focal point today.
I’m angry that I still have this resentment.
I honestly do not give a shit about their anniversary. If I go and pretend to be happy for them it will be a lie. I shift between angry and indifferent. Nothing else.
This tattoo is about starting over. Death. Deaths of the past, change, and from those deaths something new arising.  I want to close this part of my life and move on. Maybe this is a good time to start. Go to the thing, and let go.
Remember the woman I mentioned a week or two back? We’ve been texting everyday and we have a date this upcoming week =)
 
This shit needs to be put behind me.   It’s time to finish moving on. 
Also, not my tattoo