When I was 18 and a freshmen in college, flaunting our newfound independence some of my best high school girlfriends and I went out to a tattoo/piercing place. Two of them decided to get their first tattoos, the rest of us got random piercings, mine of course being the “tame” second earring hole. (Which now of course are probably completely closed up because I never wear anything in them. Heck, I hardly ever wear earrings in my primary holes!)
I was in awe of my friends’ ability to throw caution to the wind and put something permanently on their bodies. (which they loved and totally didn't regret) But I really didn’t know who I was back then, and there was nothing that felt like it was something that I’d be okay with being indelibly inked on my body.
Fast forward to now, 10 years later, on my 28th birthday, today I got my first tattoo.
As I’ve written about before on this blog, I had a complete mental breakdown when I went off of birth control. I was anxious all the time, could barely leave the house and was having panic attacks that literally led me to stop functioning and quit my job. It was scary. At times, literally all I could do to get through the day was remind myself to breathe. My psychiatrist suggested I try the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Shortly after quitting my job and getting pregnant with Clare, I took the program. It was a huge game changer for me. It was uncomfortable and scary and trying to learn meditation in a group of strangers (while suffering morning sickness, mind you) seemed nearly impossible. I was terrified driving there the first day. But I did it, and it made a huge difference for me. After each session I was markedly calmer. I think that the breathing practices I learned in that program not only helped my anxiety, but helped allow me to have a natural birth with Clare and continue to allow me to manage whatever life hands me. (including the many trials of being a mother) I remind myself that I can always come back to concentrating on my breath. The symbol is the “OM” symbol which is a commonly used mantra in meditation and yoga chanting. Soon, on the opposite forearm I am going to get: be here now. because it didn't quite fit on this arm and we decided it looked cleaner with just breathe and the om symbol.
I can quite literally say that meditation and yoga and learning to just breathe have thoroughly changed my life over the past several years, and I wanted this to be a permanent reminder that I see daily on my arm, always reminding me to come back to now, and come back to the breath.
It hurt like hell, but I would definitely do it again. I see why people say the first tattoo is a gateway drug. :)