Friday, August 15, 2014

Our Bodies Tell Our Stories

Our bodies are a container for our stories.  That scar from the time you were learning to ride a bike, the C-section scar that heralded the birth of your child, the breast reduction or augmentation that allowed you to feel more confident in your female body.  The weight you gained or lost to keep men from looking at you because they did it too much when they shouldn't have.  The child who flinches away when you are talking to her and you reach up your hand to brush your hair out of your eyes.  The thrill that runs through you at the sight of your beloved.  The hunched shoulders, the limp, the bitten fingernails.  Our bodies tell our stories. 

And this is something I love:  Ask someone about their tattoo.  Eyes light up and they start talking, even that sullen teenager with the knuckle tattoo will share his story.  Every tattoo has a story, tells something about that person's life.  Mine do.  One of my favorites is the dragonfly and the word for Breathe.  I got it when I turned forty and had been through years of therapy.  My therapist would look at me sometimes and say "Breathe!"  I forgot on a regular basis, a holdover from a childhood trying not to be seen, believing if I simply didn't breathe I would disappear.  That tattoo was a statement of a decision to take up space, taking my place in the world and allowing myself to breathe. 

Today, after months of searching for the right design and the right artist, I got a new tattoo.  A chicory flower.  When we named our property Chicory Hill Farm I went out and bought seeds to scatter on the property.  I was too impatient to wait for the weeds to find their way up our hill.  Because Chicory is a weed, growing on the side of every road and highway, in the cracks of the sidewalks, in the fields.  It gets mowed and cut down and walked on and it comes back.  Over and over it will rise up and bloom all summer long with the most perfect purple-blue, a color rarely seen in nature.  It shines with an inner light in the mornings. 

It is a symbol for me, not only for the survival of my rough childhood but my survival of this last year and half.  I've wanted this tattoo for a long time and only now felt that I had actually survived and could honestly wear it.  There have been so many days when I was cut down, on my knees, not certain I would be able to get up again. Finally, now, I know that no matter what happens I will get back up.  And like the Chicory, I will be strong and hardy and beautiful. 

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