Emotional Metamorphosis & Free Tattoos

Early this month, I contacted a tattoo studio in my city who offers one free cover-up tattoo to someone with scars from self-harm.

As a perpetually broke college student, free is my favourite number. I also have a tremendous amount of scarring on my left arm that I would rather see turn to something beautiful.

I contacted the artist knowing full well that other studios have told me it just wouldn’t be possible to tattoo over the scars. I contacted her knowing I may not be chosen or that, again, it just wouldn’t be possible.

A few weeks ago, I met the artist from Pretty In Ink. She was so joyful and immediately took me into the back. She felt my arms and noted the areas she wasn’t comfortable tattooing over, explained the risks, and spoke about the design I was hoping to get. We set an appointment and the artist, Jackie, told me she’d draw up a design with my original ideas and inspiration I’d shown her. I gave her free reign to do what she felt would work best, with the colours that worked best.

Although it may take several sittings, it may need touch ups, and the scars may swell initially; I want to document the experience when I go in for my appointment.

In exactly 10 days, I will have the scars I’ve worn for 16 years turned into a piece of art. I can’t explain how exciting this will be. I’ve learned to look past them, not to see them, to ignore the damage. Self-harm hasn’t been part of my life regular life, save for two slip ups, in 5 years.

I think it’s time to acknowledge their existence, to believe in their significance, and have the emotional metamorphosis I’ve sustained etched forever in ink.

 

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The Club

In an effort to get myself working in the field of social services — I decided to take up a casual position in my city’s Methadone Maintenance Therapy Clinic.

I absolutely adore working here. I love my clients, I love the work I do and I love being able to see people thrive. Although I understand the need, I don’t like having to monitor clients surrendering samples. I’ve been on the receiving end and it really is exposing.

I’ve been known as the perpetually upbeat and cheerful kid with the curly hair. I’ve been told that my clients could eat me for breakfast, but there’s a breakdown in the resolve when I have to watch people pee.

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I had recently begun wearing short-sleeved shirts to work because it’s summer. In the wintertime, I tend to snuggle up in sweaters and cardigans so my colleagues and clients haven’t really been able to see the extent of the scars on my arms.

Now, I haven’t self-harmed in nearly 5 years. The scars are faded white and I barely even notice them, but others do. So here I am, Tuesday morning, — I might add, late for my shift due to a slew of terrible nights of sleep and an adjustment in my medication — half-awake and I notice those little millisecond-long pauses. A couple of clients’ eyes went huge as, I imagine, they took in the decades of self-abuse.

That day I received a few extra smiles and some nods in acknowledgement; almost in solidarity — a really weird club for those who understand… who get it.

I know that in my field I play with a double-edged sword. On one hand, I really do get it — the pain, the anguish and desperation. On the other, who am I to advise anyone when I’ve painted my arms with the same blades.

I haven’t encountered the latter yet, but I’m prepared.

Until then, I enjoy the smiles and I nod back to the members of the club that I wish on not even my worst enemy.


Naloxone can save lives — Get Trained — Get Ready