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.


Advertisements

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
                                             

Shadow of my Self

Losing control of my mask.

It was a weekend. A long, long weekend. I’m including Monday in this too, even though I was technically working. I took a day trip to Chicago for my job. Up at 4:30a.m. to fly out, back by midnight flying back.

Friday I hung out with Friend. I don’t know why I was there. Usually I feel some connection. I was alone in that room. Watching movies, geeking out, I couldn’t contribute. He kept talking, I wish he wouldn’t, I couldn’t think. I had nothing to say. I found myself mindlessly agreeing with him. About nothing particularly important, but I no longer had anything to say to him. He doesn’t even feel familiar to me.
No one does. Monday, waiting for my plane I texted all the friends I should feel close to. Nothing. Empty. Hollow tubes connecting where solid ties should exist. I don’t know what to do.
Saturday I knew it would be a bad day. As soon as I got home from Friends the night before I knew I was alone. Utterly. I slept as much as I could. Forcing my sleeping drugs down my throat to not feel. Saved by an unlikely source, my tattoo artist called me and I hung out at the shop going over his design. It’s not right, not yet. I’m obsessing over it. Figuring out how to make it more my own. I’ll sit down with him again this week, but I need to do it before Saturday when I’m having it done. I’m dreaming about it, how it can go wrong. How I’ll settle to not upset him since he put so much work into it already. But this needs to be about me, not just his talent. I will live with this and I can’t let someone else   I can’t. I have to remember this. Too often I let others have too much leeway. This is one area I cannot compromise. I’ll take this for me, because it is for me.
Sunday, I hung out with another guy I’m becoming friends with. I don’t know how to discourage him from liking me in a way that is more than I can offer, more than I care to offer. I don’t want to lead him on. I’m suspicious this is the only reason he’s around. I’m unable to not question his motives. I don’t know if I’m paranoid or perceptive. Got home that night and I finally gave in. Alone in my apartment I drank, ate, binged, purged. The last thought before going to bed should not be, this is how bulimia is supposed to be.
Monday I took a day trip to Chicago for my job. Up at 4:30a.m. to fly out, back by midnight flying back.  Me and a colleague, networking with others in my industry.
I couldn’t maintain my mask. People talk about masks occasionally. That image you present to the outside world to cover up what hides inside. The shroud thrown over your true Self to blend in with the crowd. Masking the madness within. It didn’t crumble completely. The weight of being someone I’m not for so long at one time, for someone that knows nothing of me other than the professionalism I present. There was no walking away. No slipping out to slough off the pressure pulling me down.
I work alone, occasionally mingling with coworkers. I can take a break when I need to drop the façade with no one monitoring me. During the day, meeting other professionals in my field, I held up. I held up for a long time. Too long. Usually I can walk away, take some time to release the pressure building up from crushing down my core. No opportunity this day. Not even a minute for me.

 

Walking the Ring I felt myself floating away. My mind reeling in that depersonalized spiral. My surroundings surreal. Watching the wall of electronics and machinery I floated two feet to my right. Hovering heady and light. I felt too tall; disembodied.  I’ve become so used to my dissociated emotions, but I have generally felt grounded. My body my own. Not this time.
Next, visiting a manufacturer, touring the machine shop my vision blurred. I viewed everything through a foggy lens that wouldn’t rub from my glasses. I love machine shops, the noise, the smell, the rush of productivity… too much, too much for me that day. I couldn’t focus my thoughts; I couldn’t tune my attention to what was being told to me.  I relied too much on my colleague to keep up the conversation. Interjecting only when I knew I needed to.
By the time we got back to the airport I could no longer project the professionalism. Not an emotional crumble, but too personal. Talk of school, spending my time alone, geekery, movies, forgetting to watch my pronouns, I felt like I was lying when I mentioned past boyfriends knowing that this was not my preference; knowing I did this only to redirect attention from a part of me I’ve embraced. I’m not used to repressing parts of me that I am believe in. Hiding in a closet has never been my way; however I never spend time socially with colleagues making it easy for me to never mention it. Professional is not personal, and my personal has no place in my professional. My identities don’t bleed together. There is no seamless transition. There is one, or there is the other. I tried to toe this line, but even talking about subjects that were safer I felt myself hunching over my beer, staring into the amber liquid looking for a way out. I played to my exhaustion, and his. It’s all I could think to do.
Coming into work this morning I feel well rested. I feel utterly out of place. This is not my environment. It’s wrong. Clothes that don’t fit, an office that is not me, air I can’t breathe. I no longer have a choice. I picked my path and now I have to see it through, but something broke. I don’t know how to pick up the pieces; glue them back together. The cracks in my armor are apparent to me and everyone will see that my façade is a fraud. I’m sure of it. I’m living someone else’s life.

Lucid Analysis: Trials in Therapy – 5

Therapy last night was an ordeal. I was exhausted and run down. I didn’t feel like talking. I honestly didn’t want to be there.



Bottled



Sometimes I wonder if my therapist understands me at all. She keeps going on about Friend. I’ve been more down than usual, she thinks in part because it is their 10th year anniversary and it keeps coming up. I mentioned previously that I have no intention of attending their gathering.  Did I mention that Friend asked me to babysit so they could go out to dinner one night? Seriously? As soon as he asked me I wanted to punch him in the face and scream at him. My self-control is better than that now and what I ended up saying was ‘no, babysitting really isn’t my thing’. Which he knows so it was a plausible excuse. Yet he still asked me (Asshat).  I instantly feel guilty for not doing it, but I’d hate myself and trigger myself into doing something stupid if I did. I want nothing to do with this event. I say good for me. Yesterday the wife IMd me to help her find an anniversary present for him. WTF?!? Either I’m really that good at hiding my hatred of this whole thing, they’re utterly oblivious to my residual feelings (Friend) or intentionally poking at me because wife is a huge bitch (Yes). Therapist thinks their insensitivity is causing me to spiral down. If Friend was really caring he would know that this bothers me and not put me in a position to make me uncomfortable. Dick. I just kept saying, ‘it’s whatever, he’s a guy, what am I supposed to do about, he’s just a guy’.  Considering how close we were, and how much I cared about him, maybe even loved him, that I’m Splitting him into the all bad category in my life is my inner Angry Child acting out.
I thought this session was a complete waste until about 5 minutes before it was supposed to end. Then she started to upset me. Whatever she was saying made me face how I was really feeling. I had to confront the fact that I was feeling jealous, hurt, because such an intense part of our connection changed and was basically abandoned. She said I need to pay attention to those feelings of hurt and jealousy. Don’t dismiss them. That I am feeling these emotions means that I am lacking something in my life. I’m missing those things that would counter those emotions. I need to find something healthy to fill that void.
Note: Pay attention to my feelings. Negative emotions indicate a lack of something I need.
Therapist again, brought up the idea that maybe this relationship is no longer a healing relationship for me. That continuing to spend so much time with him, talking to him may be triggering my depression. What I had to make clear to her was I’m always depressed. I’ve been depressed since I was 12, this isn’t new. I did finally have to admit that he was contributing to it though.
Homework: Get out. Begin to form new relationships outside of him and the people connected to him.
I honestly have not felt ready for this, but after this session I think I should. I’ve been casually chatting with a woman I met on-line (don’t judge). Last time we communicated she gave me her phone number. I’m going to text her at lunch and see if she responds. I brought my phone charger to work so I couldn’t sabotage this plan and use my phone dying as an excuse to not do this (I need a new battery). That I’ve been so hesitant about this has meant to me that I’m not ready to be involved. Last night I came to a place that I think I can at least reach out, is a step in a healthier direction. I’m going to try. Maybe nothing will come of it, but at least I’m making an effort. I even have little thoughts and visions of double dating with Roommate or some other friends that live out by her. That’s good right? A little vindictive part of me hopes this makes Friend jealous, but it’s just a little voice in the back of my mind.  
Also, Sunday I did hang out with another guy I’ve known for ages. When I finally got home I was starving b/c I hadn’t eaten since my run. Poured myself a glass of wine and had dinner, then a snack, then more food until I binged out completely. Purge. Your last thought before going to bed should not be “this is how bulimia is supposed to work”::headdesk:: Therapist was obviously concerned about this. That my bulimia is coming back regularly is an indicator of my depression and my feeling out of control. This is most likely the result of my emotions revolving around Friend. Going out makes me worry I’m abandoning something and that’s scary for me, because my going out, will make him jealous, angry and push me out. She hopes he’ll tell me that I am important to him and that he will not discard our friendship because I am making new ones. I need to get past this.
I had no intention of really talking much this session. I don’t feel all that connected to Therapist and I didn’t want to say anything. For the beginning of it I was aloof, detached, I couldn’t focus on what she was saying, and honestly I did not care. I know it showed. She mentioned I seemed disgusted. Around mid-session I was starting to get angry, very angry, but still detached from my deeper emotions. I was lashing out about the wife and even swearing. I KNOW Therapist was trying to push me past this. She was actually trying to upset me, but in a direction away from anger. By 5 minutes to the end she did it. I shifted again and she actually made me start to cry. I hate this. HATE this. I hate myself for not being able to control this. I do have to admit that these were feelings I needed to face and work through. She ended up keeping me in session for a half hour after our time was up because she wanted to continue helping me work through this. I was ready to run out the door by this point and I practically did. I felt more connected to her at the end.
On a different note, when I told her about my tattoo consultation she was a little worried that I was going hypomanic because my excitement and up mood was so unusual for me and disproportionate to what that should have inspired. She’s not worried that it’s an impulsive decision. She is a little worried that I’m completely unconcerned with how much pain it’s going to cause. I have very little fat on my ribs and the majority of this piece is going to be right there, which is a notoriously painful location for tats. My other tattoos didn’t really hurt at all. Pain is normal for tattoos though. It’s really just something you have to accept if you’re going to have them done.  Maybe I’m rationalizing, but it is the reality of the thing.
She also told me to come in Thursday if I felt I needed it. I doubt I will but that she’s suggesting two sessions a week again is disconcerting. Sigh.

Pen to Paper…

Or ink to flesh, as the case may be.
Body modification. I appreciate all forms of it. It may not all be to my taste, but I understand the need for the expression.


I have 19-20 piercings (I have an industrial that is technically 2 pierce points but one bar).

3 tattoos (2 of which are very large).

And multitudes (read: an excess) of scars.  Especially towards my older years I’ve developed patterns to my cutting. Symmetry and numbers in groupings. I find my scars beautiful. I never hide them. A part of me and where I’ve been. The cause behind my need to do this may be ugly, but the effect conveyed as an expression of my victory over the cause, my survival, is beautiful. Harsh journey, but I’m still here to continue on it. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Back to the point. Going in for a tattoo consultation today! I’m very excited. I started drawing this almost a year ago but due to all the wackiness that is my world I haven’t been able to finish my concept or iterate it to the point of completion. I’m done now, and I want it on me. It is a highly symbolic piece (to me), representing the trials and tribulations, deaths and rebirths of my life. A reminder that no matter what, there is always the chance for something new, something different. No actual ink today. Just sitting down with the artist. This is going to be a very large piece so we’ll have to work on fitting it to my body (though I did draw it with this in mind), how, or if, various aspects can be done, etc. Of all my impulsive inclinations… tattoos are not one of them. Well, mostly. As soon as I have an idea for one I need I make the decision. My compulsions necessitate that I obsess over the details until it’s exactly what I want.

So today is the first step! (Again) I’m very excited =)
Update:

**Squee**!!! I am even more excited having talked to my artist! He sees no problems with my design. He’ll sit down with it in a couple days to refine it and then we’ll set up an appointment! So happy! I actually had those little nervous butterflies as I was sitting waiting to meet up with him. Good nervous. The kind that pump up your adrenaline just a little bit. Leaving the parlor I just keep going up. I have not been this up or this happy in a long, long time. So much energy. Went straight to the gym and had the best/longest run I’ve had in ages. Gah! I want to spin in circles I’m so stoked! ::bounce bounce:: I so love that adrenaline pop up. I feel so good right now =)


Poked and Prodded – Criteria 4 / Impulsive Behavior Part 6

Part of me thinks I should put this in Section 5 with Self-Harm, but I find it to be not quite in that category. Lesson I’ve learned is many of these bleed together and meld into each other categorically speaking though so maybe I’ll revisit it then as well since:
Criteria 4:  impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
Piercings and tattoos. 
While tattoos aren’t so impulsive for me, piercings are. Currently I have 20. Mostly in my ears, but nose, lip and bellybutton are on that list too. I have an Industrial, inner conch, 3 in my outer conch, both traguses and a multitude of lobe and cartilage piercings. Just a few more cartilage and a few more in my belly and possibly some micro-dermals are on my agenda.  I have one impulsive tattoo that I need to get NOW. And a VERY large piece to cover my entire right side that I’ve been designing for months now that I will get very shortly. I have approximately 7 more tattoos that I simply must get. 
It doesn’t help that I have a lot of friends that also love piercings and tattoos. Every time they get a new piece I spawn new ideas to love and need.  The impulse to go out and drop hundreds of dollars on ink is so appealing. Not too mention addicting. Piercings are easier. Someone wants a piercing, sure I’ve got room. One more here, two more there. The cost adds up but the look is fantastic. Fantastically unprofessional. This means I have a hell of a fun time taking out my visible piercings or styling my hair to cover them when I have interviews or start a new job. Maybe not the best decisions I could be making, but I refuse to let Corporate Anything dictate to me who I should be. That in itself is what the status quo might consider impulsive. I consider it just another part of me. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks of me or my body modifications be they piercings, tattoos or scarification. They are part of who I am and the roads that my life has lead me down.
Not necessarily an impulsive decision, and this may bleed into Criteria 5 self harm as well, but I don’t think of it that way…. Suspension. Full back hook suspension is an experience I am dearly looking forward to trying. The pain coupled with the adrenaline rush is a high too appealing to pass up. I’ve wanted to try this for years and never yet had the chance. I will though. Oh yes, I will.