I love tattoos, I love seeing them on other people, and I love seeing them on myself.
Of course, considering I hate needles, and that I’m an easy crier, the actual process of getting inked isn’t my most favourite sensation in the world. Though I desperately want these images inked into my skin, it’s safe to say I spent a better part of the 16th January horribly nervous, my stomach was doing flips, my heart had gotten cosy in my throat and my trembling fingers could barely work the keyboard.
I just had to keep reminding myself that I wanted this.
I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from getting tattoos, I promise, I’m just sharing my experiences. So I’m sorry if this puts anyone off. Sure, tattoos hurt (and the sky is blue) but if it’s something that you want to get because it means something, then they’re honestly so worth it.
When I got my first tattoo (every constellation of the Northern Hemisphere, plus milky-way) in august, everyone warned me that it would hurt. I said “Yes, I know”– but the truth is, I didn’t. Not really. I remember being able to feel the needle as it pierced through my skin over and over again.
I’m no stranger to suffering for beauty, but I didn’t expect this experience to leave me in tears. They were fat, ugly tears too. Strands of pale green snot was dripping onto my hands from my nose ring, and the thick wings of my eyeliner had completely vanished, washed away until only streaks of black remained on my cheeks. Every twenty minutes or so, the artist had to pull me back closer from where I was leaning to get away. Bless David Lechero, who suffered through it with me. I doubt it pleasant for him, having that sniveling teenage girl trying (and failing) to put on a brave face for three whole hours.
But it’s such a beautiful tattoo, and it was worth every minute.
Which I suppose, brings me to that newest tattoos that I’ve added to my collection. I still went back to Raven’s Nest, taking the three-hour train journey from Portsmouth to Gravesend to do so, this time to come under the needle of Penny Wood. Taking inspiration from the Victorian language of flowers, I decided to get a circle of Forget-me-nots (because they, obviously, mean to remember) and white violets (because they mean ‘take a chance on happiness’). Then, it got better. Penny added foliage, wisteria, and bleeding hearts, to give the tattoo a much more romantic and dainty feel.
Though my back tattoo might be the largest one I’ll ever get, the ring of flowers on my left arm might be one of the most important and meaningful.
And that’s because I’ll be getting these flowers placed over self-harm scars, because whilst I may have moved on from that part of my life, it shaped me into who I am today and I don’t want to forget that. To be cliched, this tattoo is going to bloom out of the lingering, bittersweet memories of that time in my life. As the title of this post suggests, I don’t to forget, but now this tattoo is going to be just another step in my journey of moving on.
So I sit here, after all of that nervous build up, and the hour and a half of great conversation with my new ink. The pain was anti-climatic, I didn’t cry once! I feel as though I’ve accomplished something, I’ve gotten through the worst days of my depression (there, I said it) and I managed to sit through being repeatedly stabbed with a needle.
It might just be the adrenaline, but I feel like I can do anything. But if I can do anything, then if there’s anyone reading this who is nervous or afraid or struggling, then I know full well you can do anything too.
(Sorry to ruin the inspirational moment, but for those of you interested, here is a link to the Raven’s Nest website, this is their Instagram and that is their Facebook page. The image of my arm was taken by Penny in the studio, and so really it belongs to her, you can find the link to it on her Instagram profile, which is under the link of her name!)