I have gotten a tattoo every year since fall 2014 when I was reeling from the end of a relationship. Funny, how things we never saw coming that caused us so much pain can be the impetus for our growth. I know the end of that situation was the beginning of the Gabby that exists today. I also know that while pain might have been the impetus behind my first tattoo, I ultimately always have and will get them for myself. I also know, that the cause behind my first tattoo, has nothing to do with why I got my last. Thank God for G R O W T H.
February. Breakup. November. Still sad, but things were looking up. Tattoo.
This Too Shall Pass
Fitting, because in the thick of it, I was a hot mess. Ask my friends. Look back at stuff I wrote then. Lurk my twitter. I was a wreck. Fitting because I hoped, believed that someday, the pain would pass. Appropriate because I was right. Also, apt because it’s one of my favorite India.Arie songs. And well, it’s true.
It did pass. Everything, always passes.
Thailand. January. New Year. Coming home to self. Still kind of a mess. But, a hopeful mess.
I got my second tattoo in Thailand. It’s an anchor. It was New Year’s Eve 2014 and I was finally starting to feel hopeful about myself, life, and love again. I wasn’t thinking about him or it as much and was able to entertain the possibility that someday, somehow I might actually be happy again. Bangkok was bustling. Kao San Road was lit. I would enter the New Year before everyone back home in the U.S. and after sitting in the rain for so long, it was nice to feel the sun peeking out through the clouds. Plus, it was cheap. An anchor, because I finally had hope.
“We have this hope as an anchor for our souls…” (Hebrews 6:19)
Fall. Study abroad. England. Second time around. Freedom. HAPPY.
‘Let’s cross over.’
Flash forward to fall 2015. I was studying abroad in England and everything was singing bees and pear trees. Everything was love, innocence, and probably a little bit of naivety. But, more than that, I finally no longer cared. Indifference both is and was a beautiful thing, especially for me, a person of extremes. England was like coming up for air and realizing it was cleaner up here where the baggage can’t reach you. It was freedom from who I was and empowerment to be who I always wanted to. It is amazing what crossing an ocean will do for a girl. It was the space I needed to just be – be me, be seen, be understood, be free. It was crossing over into another dimension of self love, worth, and confidence. It was venturing and wandering, both away from my world and deeper into myself at the same time. It was joy. It was coming home to myself and life.
It was attraversiamo. It was crossing over.
Twenty-two. Graduation. Graduate school. Philadelphia. New beginnings. Fresh start. WHOLE.
Silhouette of a Woman
And now, there is graduation, graduate school, and Philadelphia. There is fresh and new. There is pre-adulthood. (Does grad school count as adulthood)? There is a young woman who knows that she is the whole table and is growing the strength to claim her space by speaking up for herself. There is the watering of vocal cords and planting of spines. There are musicals, concerts, and art shows. Activities that feed my soul and nurture my creativity. There are bank accounts being monitored and budgets being adhered to. There is saying ‘no’ and doing for self – because to thine own self be true. There is love, friendship, and life, on my, mutually beneficial terms. There are my, meant for me, good people. Because, all the people in your life should be good, but not all good people can be in your life. There is faith and belief in God, myself, and love again. Always, in all ways, again. There is truth. There is no imposter here. Here, is where I prayed to be. Here is who I prayed to be. I am, who I worked to become. I am, who I needed when I was younger.
Here she stands. Word to the woman.
Tattoo’s help me mark my progress. I never know I’m going to get them before I do. Each of these was in some ways a spontaneous decision to walk into a tattoo parlor and ink my body. But, they all bubbled up from somewhere deep inside of me that knows physical reminders matter, at least for me. Yes, I tell stories, mine and others, with my words. But, my body, through these tattoos, tells MY story as well. They are the physical representation of my spiritual and mental growth. They tell the story of becoming the woman I always prayed to be.
I have no clue what I’ll get next, when, or where. But, I know I’ll continue on this journey of self-love and discovery. Likely, with more ink to show for it.