Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tattooed at 22

How do you help yourself heal after placing a child for adoption? How do you deal with the pain, the loss, the grief? How do you accept that you are a mother with no child? I had many ways to cope, and this is just one of them...

When I returned to Missouri from California after the second adoption, I was a different person. I was not having an easy time dealing with the heartache that was familiar to me. I tried as hard as I could to prepare myself for life after the birth, but I soon found out that I was fooling myself. I was so disappointed in myself for having to watch my heart leave me, again, and disappointed that I could not undertand why God would put me in that position for a second time. Sure, I knew deep down that there was a reason, but that reason was eluding me and breaking me at the same time.

My solace was my mother and my man. I cannot say enough about the support and love that I received from them. I was blessed to have them, so blessed! Even though I had them, as anyone who is a birth mother knows, it was hard to move on with life. The road ahead was going to be hard, I knew that. And since I had placed my daughter a couple of years earlier I figured that I would have a good grasp on what I had to do to heal. Well, every juncure in life has it's own demons to overcome and these particular demons that I was facing were the worst. They were the worst because these demons were inside me, inside my own head. I was my own worst enenmy. I was almost manic ... happy and content one minute, depressed and lost the next. I really thought that I could heal from my broken heart so much easier because I had been through it before, I knew what was in store. I was wrong, so VERY wong.

My man noticed that I was not happy. He tried everything to help me. He held me while I cried, he smiled with me when I spoke of the twins, he made me laugh when I really did not feel like laughing. He encouraged me to do what would make me happy, whether it was driving in my car listening to Tool at loud volumes, shopping for books to forget my worries, taking a long stroll through our favorite park in Kirkwood or just laying around watching some favorite movies. He tried so hard to make me forget the gigantic hole that was in my heart. He told me that I needed to asses what it would take to make me move on, to get past the initial loss and start to heal. He did not make suggestions, just pushed me to look within and find what it was that would help me get over that first hump in healing. I thought about it for weeks, trying to find a way to put it all behind me, to find something that would help me move on. I was at a loss for so long, but then, one day, I figured out what I thought would help me.

My birthday was coming up in a month and I thought of the perfect present that would help me: a tattoo. "What?" you say. "A tattoo will help you?" you are thinking. Yes. IT would. IN my mind, mothers did not have tattoos. Tattoos were reserved for those that were rebels, wild childs that were showing their angst against what was the norm in society. All the people that I saw with tattoos were mysterious, intriguing, looked like they had a good story to tell. Keep in mind that this was the early 90's, before it was so acceptable to have a tattoo. We see them all the time now, case in point ... watch a basketball game game for two minutes and you will see 100 tats, no lie! But back then, they were far and few between. They were for real hard people who lived hard lives and you had to have a good reason to have a tattoo. not to mention, you had to have a lot of balls to be a girl and get a tattoo. Well, I had balls. I had was a rebel. I was a wild child. I was in a point in my life when I had angst against the norm in society. In my head, a tattoo would remove me from being a mother. Moms did not have tattoos then. If I got one, I would not see myself as a mother. I would see the rebelious self that I was, the strong and hard person that I was, the non-mom that I was.

I told Bruce what I wanted and he loved it. I did not explain that I thought I could pshycologically remove myself from my children with the injection of ink into my skin. I just told him that I wanted one. We went on my actual birthday to a place that was recommended by a rocker friend. It was a small building that stood by itself on the side of the road, nothing special. We walked in and they assumed that he was the one that wanted the ink. I told them that I was the one who was there to get the tattoo and I knew what I wanted. A little surprised, one of the artists said, "Well what do you want blondie...and where?" He had a mass of hair that was wild and curly, dark and a little slimey. He himself had two full sleeves and a long stroke of something that swirled up the side of his neck. He looked a little shifty, but I did not care. At that moment I was ready to do it, ready to mark myself to remove my pain. I told him that I wanted a moon with clouds around it and I brought my favorite necklace to show him that it would be a cresent with a man on the moon face in the middle of it.  I then told him that I wanted it on my ankle. He took the necklace and told me to have a seat, he would be back in five minutes with a drawing. We sat in silence, listening to the television that was on in the back. I could tell from the voices and conversation that it was "The Karate Kid" starring Ralph Machio and Elisabeth Shue. When the artist returned he had a great drawing of the moon, sans the clouds. "Let's do this, and then I can add the clouds after. Let's just feel it..." he said. Okay guy, let's feel it. I think he might have smoked a doobie while he was back there. I sat in his chair and he on his stool. He took my foot and placed the paper on my ankle. We discussed the placement, and he transfered the outline onto my skin, right over my ankle bone.

The needle was shiny, and it went deep into my skin. Oh Lord! I wanted to pull my leg away, just thank him right there and leave. But curiously, that pain did exactly what I thought it would. As I looked at his fingers leading the gun to dig the outline into my bone, I felt a strange release in my soul. I watched as the shape of what I wanted came to live on my skin, just as I had watched my belly grow into the family wanting to be born. The pain was shocking, yet so very healing for me. I had wanted to distance myself from motherhood, and watching the tattoo form on my body was doing just that. Once he finished with the coloring, he then said "Let's get those clouds on there." After he dipped the gun into the ink, he sat there holding the buzzing needle over my skin. I was watching his hand, wondering why he was not finishing the job. I looked at him and he was watching the tv. Huge smile on his face, so engaged in the movie he was no longer woking on my tattoo. I cleared my throat trying to get his attention. He then looked at me and said..."Mr. Miagi kicks ass! I love this part!" He did not care that I was there, he just wanted to watch that movie. I looked at the tv and thought of how surreal the situation was. It mirrored the feeling that I had had for the last two years: no one understood but me how important it was to distance myself from my children. More important, no one ever would. This guy finished the tat and we paid and left. I was feeling better, feeling more in control of my life. That one little thing, that small tattoo on my ankle made a huge difference in my healing and how I viewed myself.

When we relocated to California, I had the tat worked on again. I hated the "clouds" that were around my moon, thanks to Mr. Miagi's kick ass ways!, so I went to the renowned female artist Pat Fish in Santa Barbara. I asked her to fix it and add a sun around the moon. What an amazing job she did! That sun was done all free hand and only took her about 20 minutes to complete. I love the tattoo now. I love what it represents to me. It may have helped me distance myself from my grief and pain when I originally got it, but now it is a reminder of how I helped myself  become a better person. A reminder that I am strong. A reminder that if you believe in yourself, and what you are doing in life, you can accomplish unbelieveable things. It is so much more than a tattoo. It is my badge of honor.


Anonymous said...

I have two. One signifies the changes I have been through As a Birth Mother,the other is for me and my chilldren