I was sixteen years old. I cried. Not with pain, not with pleasure – certainly not with desire. I cried with the sheer relief at having sloughed off the weight of my clunky, ungainly virginity, which I had carried with me everywhere I went. I was free to turn away from the boy in whose bed I had divested myself of something I no longer had any use for.
It was gone.
I started calling getting tattooed “tattoo therapy” as a joke. I do this. I claim “kitten therapy”, “music festival therapy”, “camping therapy”. But for me, tattooing goes beyond a mere joke about something I like to do. Tattooing is something very large, very meaningful, and very good.
The way I feel after being tattooed, the way I feel right now, my skin still tender from the needle, the smell of ink and Vaseline still clinging to me, is beyond compare.
This feeling is not simply the endorphins and the excitement. It is a profound joy and pride at the deliberate act of taking control of my body, of changing it on my own terms. Tattooing my body is hurting it, yes, but in a way which transforms it and improves it and says THIS IS MINE ONLY MINE.
I am taking back my authority over my body.