September 16, 2015

A New Tattoo

Yesterday I got a new tattoo. I've been thinking about it for awhile. At first, I was thinking I would get something to represent that I'm a triathlete, or that I did a Half Ironman, but that didn't feel like what I wanted. I mean, I am a triathlete, but in the grand scheme of things, it's a small percentage of who I am. So, meh. The tattoo idea went back into the incubator for further cooking.

I had a hard time being alive in 2014. My brain felt like it was on fire, figuratively. Every emotion and interaction was painful. I could not navigate anything. In one of the first appointments with my therapist, she told me that my ship was on fire and I needed to get on the first lifeboat I could find and row away to safety. It sounds dramatic now, but at the time, to have someone look at me, see that I was on fire, and know how to help me put it out, was huge.

Thus began what has proven to be a life-changing relationship with, what I believe to be, the world's greatest therapist. I did a lot of heavy lifting initially. I had to put out all of my fires. I tore it all down, grieved, DID A HALF IRONMAN and started to heal. Then I was okay. And once I was okay, it was time to unpack 9/11 and work through my PTSD.

Everything is connected:  how I define myself, the situations I get into, the jobs I take, the jobs I don't leave, the people I choose to surround myself with. Working through my 9/11 trauma has healed me in a greater way than I imagined. I feel whole, alive and loved. I know who I am. Furthermore, I'm okay with who I am.

This tattoo is an obvious, symbolic nod to New York City, but for me, it's also emblematic of strength and resilience. When New York City was attacked, it fought back, it healed and it came back. I've done a similar thing. This tattoo is a daily reminder of my own strength and resilience, and how proud I am for working this hard to be okay.

Thank you to Shannon Wages at Banshee Tattoo, and thank you to Freya for pointing me to a tattooer with the right balance of artistry and empathy.

One last thing. There was a guy waiting while I got my tattoo yesterday and he heard me talking to Shannon about my tattoo. He told John that he joined the Marines because of 9/11 and was in there yesterday to get an eagle tattooed on his arm. Thank you for that, universe.


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