FLY AWAY – A TATTOO STORY
Do your tattoos tell a story?
Some of mine don’t. They were pieces for fun or quotes that I loved. The rest of my tattoos tell a variety of stories like a scrapbook on my skin.
Let me tell you the story behind this beautiful piece.
Take it back almost ten years ago. I had just gotten out of a long-distance relationship that at the time I thought had been in it for the long run. I vowed I’d stay single this time and enjoy me, enjoy my job, enjoy my friends and just enjoy being single. Instead I fell for someone who I’d never thought I would.
It was a bit of a classic Hallmark type set-up. We worked in the same mall together and already saw each other every day. We laughed together and at times flirted but I had deemed him “not my type” and kept pushing it away. He respected it, too, and never pushed me further than I wanted him to. As John Green once put it: I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
It was the relationship I needed. It was a relationship that showed me real love. The kind that is built on laughter and trust. It gave me someone who knew my limits and when they could push them, for good; like getting me to go out with my friends when I said I didn’t want to because he knew I would regret it if I didn’t. That relationship gave me someone who truly cared about my friendships and family and wanting to be there.
It was a relationship with someone who wasn’t afraid to give into my spontaneity and fostered it instead. It was last minute road trips and adventures. It was being able to be myself around them and still function as myself when they weren’t around. It was a relationship that set standards, and in a good way. It set standards for what a healthy relationship looked like. The kind with proper communication and a realistic sex life. With compromise, trust and healthy disagreements.
I think that that relationship ending really broke me for a while. I’m someone who will fall hard fast once I start, who will give their entire being to another human to see them happy. I had allowed myself real vulnerability and growth and then watched it disappear. Break-ups are really hard when you’re someone who has trust and abandonment issues – especially when you aren’t fully aware of them.
When it ended, I ran. I ran away to another province for the weekend and allowed myself to be surrounded by my closest friends while I processed the hurt. While I processed that once again, what I had put all emotional energy into was leaving.
I vowed to myself that I couldn’t let relationships or other people control me anymore. That I was a fierce, strong and independent human who could function without a significant other. That I was allowed to spread my wings and fly away onto a journey of my own. I was free as a bird who didn’t need to be kept in a cage to be happy.
So I did what I did best and I marched into a tattoo shop that very day to get a tattoo to remind myself of all the growing I had done and had to do.
Originally I had walked in with this simple, basic white girl tattoo of some birds flying off a branch or something like that. The tattoo artist who was free asked if I was okay with him creating an original piece instead and I agreed. Then I laid there without moving for a few hours and let the artist draw across my skin while I let go of built up feelings and dreams.
When I got on the bus to go home and back to reality a few hours later that tattoo sat on my shoulder to remind me it was going to be okay. We were going to go home with no significant other and that was okay. We were hurting and processing and that was okay, too. That we were going to allow ourselves to be who we wanted and do what we wanted and the right person would come along and fit into that picture.
When I decided to take a leap of faith and move to a new province, this tattoo was alongside me through it. When that next person came along, and the ones after them until I found the partner I am with today, this tattoo was alongside me through it all. Through the good times and bad, through the easy times and the hard times, the little bird on my shoulder has been here to remind me that I am strong enough to get through it.
That I’m allowed to be independent, fierce and free like a bird. The right person will (and did!) just fit right into it.