Monday, September 7, 2015

My Tattoo is My Badge of Survival

It took a longer time than for most, but when I was around 40 years old I put a tattoo of a fairy on the left side of my arse. Most people I know who have tattoos have put them on their bodies to remind them of something or it becomes a ritual for having achieved something; even if it is just falling madly in love.  Of course, the more inconsequential the reason for putting a tattoo on one’s body, the more likely one is to regret having it there which will send you scurrying back to the tattoo parlour to get them to fill in, fill out, change and colour the tattoo so that it no longer reminds you about the thing you never wanted to forget in the first place.
Like most, I also had a reason for that tattoo of a fairy that I put onto my arse.  When I was 15 years old, I was walking through the kitchen in my bikini when my father called me to stand in front of him.  He had a permanent marker in his hand.   He had a lot of male friends visiting him who were also standing around the kitchen.
“Turn around’, he said.
I did and I felt him pull my bikini bottom down and draw something on the left bum cheek.
“What did you write Dad?, I asked him.
“Go and look”, he said, above the laughter from the men.  
Off I went the bedroom I shared with my sister.   I turned around and pulled my bikini up so I could see what he had written or drawn on my bum.  There was just one word written in permanent black ink. 
I had to figure it out because it was now a reflection in the mirror and the letters were back to front.  I had no idea what it meant and looked it up in the dictionary.  I was mortified.   I scrubbed and scrubbed my arse but even when it was red from all the scrubbing, the outline of “whore” still showed through.
I never forgot that incident and vowed that never again would anyone put such a horrid word or idea onto my body.  And then…the opportunity arose.  I had the tattoo put in the same place as the indelible ink word had been put.  I closed that chapter of mortification by changing what was on my arse.   I have never regretted that tattoo.
BUT, the funny side to this story is that it no longer resembles a fairy and it no longer is quite as high up on my arse cheek as it was before.  As I have got older, so gravity has done its work.  The fairy is sliding down towards the back of my leg and now looks exactly like a dragon.  I now see that dragon as a triumph over adversity – it is a badge of survival.