Monday, February 2, 2009

Transitions and rituals


Today I had an epiphany of sorts. I've been really hurting lately and wondering if this hole in my heart will ever heal, and if I'll ever be able to let go of what I lost when Paul betrayed me. I'm honestly surprised that it's still with me to the degree that it is, even given the severity of everything that happened. And then I thought back on my friend Lukas and his tattoo, which he spent the better part of Saturday night showing me and explaining his motivation for getting. At the time it seemed melodramatic and a tad drastic, but talking to my therapist yesterday about it, something clicked in my head and it suddenly dawned on me why he had gotten that tattoo. I had been trying to explain to her how much of Paul I'm still carrying around with me, and that if I could just take this pain out of my heart and do something with it, I'd feel a lot lighter. I can't carry it anymore, honestly. Then it hit me...what a perfect way of marking the pain in a visible and beautiful way by burning it onto another part of my body, purifying it, localizing it, once and for all making it small and moving it away from my core.

All that to say I'm going to get a tattoo. I want to feel the hurt of getting it, and celebrate it as a way of moving on beyond the pain of Paul and into a new era. I can't carry this around anymore in my heart, honestly I can't take it anymore. So I welcome the pain and the beauty that I know will result. Now I just need a design. Here are a few I've considered:


Each of these knots represent either healing, unity of soul, heart and mind, strength or power.

I realize that the pain is not going to go away on its own. What Paul took from me is not the ability to trust someone, or to feel love again or anything trite and soap opera-ish like that. He took something deeper, and that's why it won't stop hurting. When we were together I was beautiful, young, special, irreplaceable and most importantly I could be myself. I'd never experienced that before, and haven't since, to not have to pretend to be witty or interested or interesting or anything other than who I am. I'm mourning that, cause I don't ever feel it now. I play at being a professor, or a student, or mom or a good friend. I can't get back the feeling that I can let down my hair, be myself and it's okay. I realized today that what he gave me was a soft place to fall, and most of all, the security that he loved me no matter what, and there was nothing I could do that would make him stop loving me. I didn't have to BE anything, and it was okay.

But there was something that would make him stop loving me, that I did have to be on my guard, and when I wasn't, he replaced me. Now I'm stuck in that self-consciousness I've had my whole life, that if you don't act a certain way and say certain things people won't like you. It's what I've fought against my entire life, but Paul, whom I loved and trusted, verified it as actually and in fact, true. I don't want to believe that, because surely it isn't.

Despite the fact that a year and a few months have passed, I still am in the same pain and loss as October of 2007. I want to move beyond that and I need something tangible, a ritual of some sort, to mark the move away from that hurt and betrayal and into something positive, where I am the center of my being. I don't know if that makes sense, but this tattoo seems like the perfect way of getting there....burn it, let it go, leave something beautiful permanently in its place.

11 comments:

Kenzie said...

The second one that you posted out of your choices with the swirls is one of my favorite, A lot of people know it as the sun, or peace. I've actually used it myself as an inspiration for my next tattoo. I've drawn out like 20 different styles all with the image as the center. It's a really strong symbol, or at least I feel that way.

Anyways, I think this does mark something great for you! The choice of your designs show that your interested in proving who you are and can become more like. I'm glad you went this way instead of making it a symbol of hurt. :) I'm still very proud of you! Keep it up, girl!

BS said...

As you know I read your blogs from time to time but I usually don’t comment. But on this I have to give you my point of view. If you put a tattoo on yourself that has to do with Paul it will not be moving it away from your heart to another place on you it will just be putting another mark of Paul on you. Every time you look at the tattoo it will be a reminder of him. And then there is the fact that in a week, month, year and beyond, when asked about the tattoo you will have to explain about Paul. You will be carrying him around ON as well as with you for the rest of your life.

If you want to get rid of him you can’t mark yourself with him.

It’s time to move on.

Julie said...

BS, there is no moving on...that's just the problem. I'm going to be carrying that creep around with me regardless, and the tattoo is to remind me that I survived. I know you mean well, but you can't possibly know what it feels like. I have to make some kind of stand, and this feels right. Honestly.

BS said...

O.K. you say “you can’t possibly know what it feels like”. The reason I gave you the advice is because I know EXACTLY what it feels like. You are not the only one that has ever been through something like this, not the first and not the last. We all feel that we are the only ones and no one else could possible understand but we do. It is not easy. No one says that it will be. It’s been well over a year and it may take well over another year. But you have to keep moving forward. Put the past behind you. I know, I’ve been there. I spent many years thinking, feeling, trying to get past it but after a while it finally starts to pass. Days go by without thinking about it and then weeks. It will ways be in the back of your mind somewhere but it lessens as time goes on. But you have to move on and putting a tattoo on yourself will just leave a reminder of what was past. Then when you do meet a new guy, maybe the love of your life, he may resent the fact that you are carrying around a reminder of a past love. Oh, you think that by changing the tattoo to something different will change it but it won’t. It will still be the “Paul tattoo”. Thus the only way you will be able to make your new love happy will be to have it removed.

So why put yourself though all of that just for the sake of trying to keep a part of Paul with you but marking yourself.

I’m just trying to help you out here. Do not mark yourself with Paul, do not try to keep a reminder of him on yourself. Just try to move on. Day by day things will get better. It’s a long road but you have to take it. My advice, it’s time to move on. And as I said, and believe me, I do know how you feel.

Bud

BS said...

Crap, I meant to say this also, but I got a phone call, shouldn’t be working and doing personal stuff at the same time.

Anyway, if you are doing this because you also feel that you just want a tattoo and this will give you a good reason to get one, wait six months when you are feeling a bit better. This will then be further behind you. Then get yourself a nice little butterfly on the small of your back. Hasn’t it been said that Butterflies are free, and by then maybe you will be too.

Good luck.

Julie said...

Six months? Then I'll be okay? Ya think? Bud, I appreciate the advice, but you do not know how it feels. Everyone has a bad breakup story, but that isn't what this is at all. It's much more complicated, plus you are not me and I am not you and Paul is not whoever broke your heart, etc. Every person is different and every situation is different. I can't move on, that's the part you don't understand. I'm the only person who's been through THIS situation, and no one has any idea what it is all about, no matter how much I've written about it. I need a ritual, a ceremony of some sort. I can either tattoo myself with a celtic knot of hope or strength or something or I can do something really awful. I'm making a choice.

Ingrid said...

Julie, I think it's a great idea. It's not "the Paul tattoo." It's your mark, your skin. As I said to LJM when she commented on it being a year since she almost died: no, it's a year that you SURVIVED.


Lewis J. Carroll (Charles Dodgson) used to write in his diary, "I mark this day with a white stone" when something delightful had happened. And spare me the remarks about pedophilia -- it's just a literary example.

Keep on doing the hard psyche work (I can't believe you think so little of yourself) and get the tattoo.

Mike M said...

Ms J- I think know I am a tattoo guy and that my body is brimming with art, so I'm all for marking events and carrying around reminders. I have a representative phoenix (it is not literal, there is no bird, but there is flame) as part of my back work. It's incorporated into my landscape work. I think there's a picture of my back on myspace. This is my sobriety pictograph. This is a reminder of the years that I let myself descend into a place and a person I did not want to be. I proudly have it on me as a tag of an event in my life I want to remember. There is no way I will ever forget that time and I have no problem with wearing a reminder. So your writer who thinks it's living in the past may be a bit off base. You wear it as a badge of proud honor.

The thing about an event tattoo is that it should be something directly related to the time, or a talisman of healing, so choose well. Do not choose the pretty butterfly if that is not how you want this event to be portrayed. My personal opinion is that tattoos should be of you and your heritage (as far back as you want), so choose from your past, your kin, and find something in the rituals of faith. Be it something judeochristian or pantheistic. Something from your spiritual core that would be a good charm for you to carry around.

And just like our new Obama regime, the dark era doesn't have to be told like a tale, it is just your mark of change and rebirth.

I'm all for it. It is a passage. It wont be the first time that a new phase in life is documented with a ritual- and to quote your other writer- "it won't be the last".

choose wisely grasshopper....

Mike M said...

Oh...and no tramp stamp area tattoos ever...unless you wear thong underwear and they show when you put on your low rise jeans...

hehhh.

Julie said...

Ing, thanks. And as for thinking so little of myself, it isn't that at all. I've always had this feeling inside that I was just playing a part. It's nothing I choose to do, I just feel pretty much like a charlatan most of the time. The tailspin I went into last year has made me kind of stuck in a weird spot, where I'm always out of place. I'm trying to move beyond it but it's very hard.
xoxoxo to you.

Julie said...

And Mike, I love you!