For 15 years I was disfigured. Today, I’m a masterpiece of beauty, inside and out, thanks to the empowering miracle of the ancient art of tattoo. I never wanted a scar and never dreamed I would ever want a tattoo. Now, I’m thankful for the detour that opened up my life and spirit in ways I’d never imagined possible.
I had a scar, a big, ugly, hip-to-hip scar left over from back surgery. But it wasn’t the damage to my body that truly disfigured me, it was the damage done to my self-steem and confidence. I refused to be seen in a bathing suit for fear of people zooming right in on it. No going to the beach or a pool or enjoying water sports for me. Forget about gym locker rooms or store dressing rooms, too. The scar was hardly notable to anyone else, but in my mind’s eye, children would run screaming and every one would point and whisper. In private it was worse. I was married when I got the scar, and my husband was a dream about never mentioning it or making me feel in any way unattractive–but it didn’t matter. Every time I was naked with him I couldn’t shake my own sense of ugliness, always trying to cover it with lingerie or position myself so he wouldn’t see it during love making. It took a lot of skill to always be facing him when we were getting dressed or undressed or getting into or out of the shower. Even though I could only see it in a mirror, emotionally that scar was cut straight across my self-image. Our eventual divorce had nothing to do with the scar, or did it? Feeling inadequate and ugly, needing to hide, picking at the scab of my insecurities over things that existed more in my mind than reality. It can change a person. Hmmmmmm….
After my divorce, the prospect of dating again was daunting enough, but the thought of having some new man see that scar was paralyzing. Who could find me attractive once he saw this hideous thing? I’m ashamed to admit that I so underestimated men. I did become involved with a few guys who, like my husband, never flinched, never blinked, never so much as did a double take at the scar. In fact, no man has ever given me reason to feel ugly. I kept trying to tell myself to be proud of my battle scar, that it was a symbol of survival. But, again, it didn’t matter. Such thoughts helped me cope, but they never freed me from the emotional prison that cowed my spirit. All that changed the day I decided to reroute my path and trade that ugly scar for a gorgeous tattooed work of art.
I discovered what tattoo fans have known all along, that body art isn’t about adorning the flesh so much as about adorning the spirit. In general, a tattoo is a celebration, a memorial, a way to honor a loved one or a cherished memory, to display accomplishments or proclaim kinship. When it is used to camouflage a scar, it is a resurrection.
Tattoos are the farthest you can get from ugliness, inside and out. I had wanted something simple just to cover the scar itself, but my brilliant ink artist convinced me to embrace the experience and go bold. He also convinced me that a design that merely followed along the skinny line of the scar would only draw even more attention to it. I trusted him. I confessed to him in a whisper the secret vision of the true me who was hidden away in the psychic dungeon I had exiled myself to so many years ago. I said words like, sexy, earthy, seductive. I told him I wanted it to be feminine and beautiful, but with a subtle allure that would make any hetero guy who saw it instantly aroused and want to ravish me. I don’t know where I summoned the courage to tell this complete stranger such a private lustful craving. I was hypnotized by his empathy. He was a true artist of the soul as well as ink, and with his original design wrapped my waist and thighs in an orgasmic web of colorful orchids that even now, 3 1/2 years later, lifts my heart and spirit every time I gaze at it. It’s not that I was physically ugly and now I am beautiful. It’s that before I was emotionally imprisoned, and now I am set free, free to release myself emotionally and spiritually and act, and feel, and love, without restraints.
I have since learned that I am far from the first person to re-brand my self-image by tattooing a work of art over a scar. Both women and men have come up with some pretty awesome creations. There are countless ways to use color, design, and layout to disguise scarring. In fact, the texture of the scar can add to the drama of the art. The rough, bumpy surface of a keloid scar from a car crash becomes the tree branch of a cherry tree in bloom. One man, after heart surgery, transformed the long straight scar down the center of his chest into a wizard’s staff topped with a skull and wrapped by two wicked snakes. Very cool. I’ve seen a jagged scar wrapping under an arm become a slash made by a long-toothed cobra. There is no counting the number of women who’ve turned stretch marks, cesarean sections, and tummy tuck scars into gardens of flowers, vines, snakes, crouching tigers, butterflies, and even a bullet-studded gun belt complete with holstered pistols! For each of them, their tattoo detoured them off a dreary damaged road onto a scenic path of inner pride and spiritual strength.
If you have a scar that has pushed you emotionally or spiritually off course, consider correcting matters with a well-executed tattoo. For the most part, scars can be covered, depending upon the skin and scar texture. But don’t go to just anyone! Do your research and shop around for an experienced artist who can deliver a safe and empowering final result. It can be tricky. Some scars are raised or indent the skin in ways that will have to be factored into the design. It’s best if you wait until the scar tissue has had a chance to “rest” for at least year. Scars change in color and texture over time, and you’d like to be sure that the scar has reached its final shape and color before covering with a design. Now, on the question of pain, a tattoo is painful, but not unbearably so. The level of pain depends on where on your body you’re having it done. Certain areas of the body are extremely vulnerable to pain, but, again, not unbearable. To be honest, for me the physical pain of being tattooed was nothing compared to the deep emotional pain I’d harbored for so long. The joy I feel now, the glory, the absolute freedom of spirit I revel in now is indescribably worth the few hours of pain I endured as my price of freedom.
A scar is not a mark of a cursed life, it’s just a scar. Whether you suffered a physical injury or an emotional one, the curse is what that scar can do to hurt you from the inside. If you’re traveling a spiritual or emotional path that is a depressing dead-end for your wounded self-esteem and confidence, it may be time for a course correction! Consider releasing the inner masterpiece that is you!