My tattoos and why I’m removing one

I have a few tattoos on my body. The first one I had done was a simple tribal across the shoulder blades, the second was two huge kanji characters on the side of my neck, the third a latin phrase, covering most of my left forearm and the fourth was one piece of Yin Yang with a dragon resting on top of the piece. Most of my tattoos have a reason and a meaning behind them, kept for the first one that I only made because I could when I turned 18. But I don’t mind that one, it’s easy to cover it up and I’m considering having it remade into huge wings instead (broken? bloody? blackened? I can’t decide..), covering the whole of my back.

The third, the latin phrase, spells out Ad astra per aspera, and directly translates to To the stars through hardships. I had it done when I turned 25, the year I was diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I had it done on the left arm because that’s usually the arm the nurses prefer to draw blood from. As I follow what they are doing I look down on my tattoo and it’s kind of reassuring to see it there, making me relax a bit. More often then not the nurses also ask about it so it serves as a nice distraction.

The fourth, the Yin Yang piece with a dragon, is a twin tattoo T and I had done together, meaning we have identical designs but differing colors. When we celebrated 10 years as a couple we wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion. We decided on a tattoo and the design was to be one piece each of Yin Yang. To represent the support we found in each other we added a dragon to each piece, resting on top of it in contrasting color. I’m carrying the white Yin piece with a black dragon and T’s carrying the black Yang piece with a white dragon.

The second, the kanji characters, spell out mental strength and is meant to serve as a reminder that I need to be mentally strong to survive in this bat shit crazy world we call reality. This is the one I’m having removed, but not because I have chicken stir fry tattooed into my neck or because I don’t stand for it any more. No, it says what it’s supposed to say and I still believe mental strength are of utmost importance for your survival. But having it done was a rushed decision I took while being emotionally unstable after my mother had attempted to commit suicide, 15 years or so ago. For a long time I managed to make it have meaning just for me but the characters are placed high up on my neck, just beneath my ear so I see it every time I look in the mirror.

My mother and I had a falling out a few years ago, when I no longer could stand seeing her being abused by her alcoholic boyfriends. I gave her a choice and I lost, so I made my own choice. This tattoo keep reminding me of her and her problems as I put it there because of her initially. This is the reason I’m having it removed. I’m ready to move on.

And yes, it hurts from a physical point. It hurt a lot to put there and it hurts having it removed. Every 6-8 week I visit a professional that goes over the tattoo with a laser and then I play the waiting game as my body takes care of the ink, making the tattoo slowly fade. It’s been over a year now but soon it’s completely gone. If you ever have a tattoo made, make sure you can easily hide it with clothes in case it changes meaning or otherwise reminds you of something you’d rather not remember all the time.

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