Here's the thing. I was thinking on the evolution of this design -- that first I wanted this dainty, botanical dandelion illustration with all the fluffies and the two butterflies and it would be all wispy and feminine but also very, very sad. Very woe-is-me. Very "I am floating away on this tide of grief."
So I went with something that is the COMPLETE AND UTTER OPPOSITE of that feeling.
I saw the design, and it was the perfect mix of tribal-style badassery, some traditional tattooing stipple style, and the natural beauty of two detailed monarchs.
It was just a lot bigger than I imagined.
Here is some stencil preview:
I gulped a bit at the size, but was like, YES. Let's do this thing. It is big, it is powerful, it is no shrinking violet piece of art.
And so I lay on the table, wearing a leftover BeBand pregnancy band as a makeshift bra and my old sweatshirt backwards to give me some warmth and coverage. I love the sweet poetic justice in the pregnancy band being used for this purpose.
I forgot how much tattooing hurts. I'm not sure if it's the placement (apparently where you are ticklish is where you have a bundle of nerves, and it feels like a hot knife dragging through your skin), or the new needle styles, or the way the artist moved quickly through but also gave it the depth needed, but HOLY HELL that was super painful.
The outlining was the worst. It was the biggest needle, and he just sort of did the wings all at once and the tail, and I lay there, trying to squirm without moving my shoulder, tapping my hand on the table, singing, swearing up a storm, and laughing maniacally.
My new therapist asks why I laugh so much when I talk about really shitty things.
I laugh because I refuse to cry all the time. And it works.
I cried NOT ONCE during the two hours of outlining, shading, stippling, coloring in, and general torture.
I did, however, at one point yell, "I MAY COMPLETELY REGRET THE SIZE RIGHT NOW! Oh, SURE, let's do TRIBAL! Let's do a SHITLOAD of BIG, BLACK SHAPES! GREAT IDEA. Why is there no MANDATORY COUNSELING for this???"
I don't regret it though. It is freaking beautiful. It is gorgeous, and powerful, and everything I wanted it to be. It will just slightly peek out of most clothing until the summer, but even then it won't ever be super visible at work. But it's there, showing my rise from the ashes of everything, my triumph, my strength. The two butterflies are transformation, but they are also memories of my two babies that almost got to be. They're not sad, though. They're beautiful.
|Right after. My hair is a hot mess because I sweat like a beast when I'm in pain, and it was a hilariously HUGE cloud of curls and frizz when we were done.|
|Today, more healed, less oozy, no longer bleeding all over the place. Hard to get the whole thing myself!|
Of all the things that happened this week, this was surely the most physically painful, but it was the most emotionally and mentally rewarding, too.
I love that this work of art on my back is a physical representation of all we've survived, of the pain and the strength and resilience that results from 8 long, difficult years.
I am a freaking phoenix. I am a butterfly. I am a warrior and a gentle soul all at once. I love when some things that are imagined and visualized can go from concept to reality.