Skin Stories – Part One
It was a warm summer day in Bavaria on the 24th of June in 2016. That is the day I walked into a tattoo studio in my little town and walked out with my first tattoo. Little did I know at that time, that the few words of text inked on my left wrist would become the start of the several stories etched into my skin. I will be breaking this blog topic into a couple parts and I will share my tattoos with you and provide some insight into why?....... and what they mean to me. These are “My Skin Stories”.
Over the course of my life, I suppose I had toyed with the thought of getting a tattoo a time or two. But I actually had never given it much real serious consideration.
Under the heading, Reasons People Might Not Get A Tattoo, I think you would find.
1. Fear of pain. Yes! It does hurt.
2. Religion. Many Christian religious followers refer to a biblical scripture taken from the New Testament in 1st Corinthians, chapter 6, verses 19-20, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”
Hence, some people feel that anything that could bring possible harm to their bodies or alter what God gave them (tattoos, piercings, cosmetic surgeries) is dishonoring to God. (however from my perspective I am pretty sure breast augmentation is okay….just saying)
3. Social Stigma. Concerns about being judged negatively by family, friends, employers or prospective employers.
4. Permanency. Tattoos are basically forever and forever is a long time.
5. Money. Depending on the artist and the size of the tattoo, a tatt can be an expensive proposition.
6. Indecision. Unable to decide what is meaningful enough for you to have it permanently carved into your skin.
7. You don’t want one. It is simply not your thing, or you think they are ugly or disgusting.
8. Your significant other. Your spouse or your girlfriend or boyfriend (or in some cases perhaps both your spouse and your girlfriend – hey! I don’t judge) doesn’t want you to have one and somewhere along the way, they became in charge of your body.
The primary reason for me to not get a tattoo earlier in life would fall under #3 (from above - social stigma), which led to #6 (from above - indecision). Hence, no tattoos for me! This was because I was concerned about how I would be perceived by others, therefore I had no reason to give much thought to what I would get inked on my skin canvas.
In most cases, people are most influenced by their parents, religion, and society. At an early age, our parents begin defining what is socially acceptable and expected behavior in our lives. For those of us who are religious, religious groups teach and influence followers to live a life based on certain behaviors, morals, and ethics as a prerequisite to achieving “holiness” (to ensure you get into heaven). And the societal influence is simply based on what is generally acceptable in society, be good life partners, be good parents, work hard, achieve financial success, don’t break the law, follow the rules and possibly tattoos are bad.
For most of my life, I have been or at least tried to be a “do the right thing” kind of guy and I put quite a lot of emphasis, effort, and energy into caring about what others thought of me. Unfortunately, being too much of a “care about what others think of me” person is that this can develop into something called “approval addiction”(approval addiction = being overly concerned with what others think of you at such a level you let it determine or influence your behavior in an effort to gain approval and moreover this can escalate to a point that this may become the only way you feel good about yourself).
Unfortunately, approval addiction is a huge phenomenon in our society and has a very nasty side effect when people in your life are aware of your need for approval and abuse this by controlling or influencing you in an effort to manipulate your actions, decisions or behavior for their own benefit. (uggh………….this is a blog topic for another day)
Okay, back to the tattoos! Somewhere along the way, something changed with me. I stopped putting so much emphasis on what others thought about me and came to realize that the people in your life who really care about you and who matter most to you, typically accept and love you just as you are. Unfortunately, it took me most of my life to get to this place.
So here is a News Flash for you……yep, the people who are really important to you in life could really care less whether you had a tramp stamp (German = Arschgeweih) carved above your booty while you were drunk in Tijuana. You are still who you are and in all reality your butt billboard is probably more of a problem for you than it is for the people in your life.
My decision to get my first tattoo came about a year and a half after my Mother had passed away. As I have shared in other blog posts, it was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with in my life.
My Mom often would send me little messages via Facebook after I came to Germany. “Son, its time to call your Mother”, “I am thinking about you”, “I hope you are well, I have not heard from you in a while”, were some of the messages I received. On one occasion as her illness had begun to affect her mind, she wrote “IIIIIIIII Looooooooooove Yoooou, Son” – Mom. This was a message I could not delete. It stayed in my inbox until her Facebook account was removed.
I often thought about this message. These few words from my Mom, particularly at that time in her life, meant so much to me. Everyone is affected by the loss of a loved one in different ways. In the end, we all carry on, because this is what you have to do and it is what our loved ones would want us to do, but losing someone that is special and so important to your life is something you simply do not get over. Then one day it hit me. I want the words from that message my Mom had sent to me tattooed on my wrist. I want it where I can see it, I want it to remind me every day she loved me and I simply want it for myself!
So, I sat down at my computer and searched for a font that was the closest to my Mom’s hand writing and designed my tattoo. Then I printed it out in various sizes to find the perfect size to fit the inside of my left wrist. I then took my design to the tattoo shop and scheduled my appointment.
The few days leading up to the appointment the whole “what will people think” mind game began. In the hours on the day leading up to my appointment, came the real stress. Thoughts of “this is forever”, “what will my Dad think”, “what will others think”, “ don’t worry, you can cover it with a watch”, were running through my head.
How crazy is that? This was a message from my Mom! All that stress for 5 words, 14 letters in a space of an inch high and 2 ½ inches wide, which took all of 5 minutes to get done. Here it is.
I really don’t remember if it hurt or not. But I do know it healed. I am not referring to the healing process of my skin after getting the tattoo, I am talking about having my Mom’s words and message inscribed on my wrist to be with me now and forever. In some strange way it was healing and it helped ease the pain of losing her.
So that is the “Skin Story” of my first tattoo called “A message from Mom”. Little did I know that one tattoo would lead to 10. Each of them mean something to me and have a name and a story.
A Message From Mom
Music In My Veins
Your Final Song
Power In Prayer
Bigger Than The Road
King of Kings
I look forward to sharing these with you in Part 2.