I started getting tattoos when I was 20. I really, really needed a reason to love myself, and the only way to do that was to put something, permanently, onto my skin that I thought was beautiful.
Man, did it work. Even on the worst day, the no-reflective-surfaces-allowed days, I had that tattoo, that beautiful piece of MY skin. Of ME. And that made all the difference.
It was such a gift--that first, small piece--and I owe it (and its artist) so much, that I honored it (and my body) with more work until I could love another piece, and another, bit by bit. Eventually, all of these smaller pieces couldn't help but form a patchwork, a map of sorts, by which I could trace my journey of love, of acceptance. They are my crossroads, my landmarks, my little lighthouses, reminding me that there was once a time much harder than this, that I was once so young and somehow saved by this art.
And now I honor that journey further--every time I forge a difficult part of this mad life or fall away from myself, I add to my map. I remind myself why I'm here, and I remind myself that there are places to go.
So, thank you to the artists. Thank you to those brave enough to give this gift of permanent acceptance to those of us seeking it.
This is your topography; map your own safe harbors.