Tales of the Recovering People Pleaser continue as I work to shed the idea that my worth is conditional. If you missed my last post, go see it, and ride the wave with me toward peace…at least let’s hope. People Pleasing is awful. Do not recommend.
So yep, I got a tattoo.
You know, Boomers grew up with parents who experienced The Depression. And we were raised by Boomers. They’re a little more conservative, straight-laced, compliant, hard-working. Oddly, some were hippies, free spirits, laid back, carefree. I wasn’t exactly surrounded by the June Cleaver, squeaky clean set, but I did pick up along the way somehow that tattoos were trashy and a faux pas. Any of the Flower Child, peace and love bunch I was ever influenced by weren’t much help either apparently. I thought burly motorcycle dudes had tattoos. Vietnam vets and construction workers had tattoos. Rock stars and weirdos had tattoos. White trash and felons had tattoos. Sweet, pretty girls did not.
You know who else doesn’t get tattoos? Educated, sweet, pretty girls. They walk the line, wear the suit, get the manicures, speak clearly in public, and climb the ladder. They work to find their place among men (the hard way), embrace the company culture, and follow the rules. I did my time in Corporate America, and Good Lord, in conservative politics, back-to-back sentences of sorts, in a captivity of compliance and rules of civility. Time served. No tattoos.
Add those experiences to my tendency to paint my front door a different color every other year or so, redecorate my bedroom periodically, and color my hair some bright color, and you have a chick who also resists permanence. I like to change things up – out with the old. Educated, sweet, pretty, corporate, conservative girls who get a fun, new shower curtain on a whim do not get tattoos.
So when my son threatened to make a tattoo appointment for not just himself but both of us over 3 months ago and laughed his ego-maniacal laugh…I looked him dead in the eye and said YES. He has several and ultimately wants a “sleeve”. My husband has one, too, on his bicep. I put aside my dumb perceptions and conservative notions and knew in that moment I would not back out. It was as good as done.
Bruce carefully tatted the unalome. It’s rooted in Buddhism and is a symbol for the journey through life. It represents life’s beginnings and growth. I love that the clef-looking design serves to illustrate my deep connection to music from childhood. The twisty-turny curves represent chaos, hardships, trials, and challenges throughout life. The straight line represents the path we have earned to final enlightenment and death. I added the 3 dots at the end to symbolize what I hope to leave behind – a legacy of giving good back to this world and my two children. I added the one dot at the top to depict my “One” – God (the One upon whom I depend), myself (when it’s all stripped away, there’s only One, me), and my husband (he is truly The One).
I didn’t watch. I breathed through the tingly, mildly uncomfortable 15 minutes and waited. I wanted to be surprised, and Boy, I was! Not only was it beautiful and exactly right, the tears started to flow. This Recovering People Pleaser had done a thing so NOT in compliance with any one, any thing, any place, any boss, any anything that had ever kept her in line. Something so tiny and insignificant to so many other people helped me, at 46 freaking years old, claim a little more of my independence. I cried.
It absolutely felt like the “EFF YOU” and all the middle fingers to everyone and everything in my own ridiculous mind that I had let hold me back…and it was fantastic. It brought all the People-Pleasing into clear view and shattered it. I was at that moment, and am at this moment, in love with it and all it means to me.
I like to think I’m getting this life thing figured out. I wish it didn’t take so long. Now I have a reminder, though, right here in plain view on my forearm that those twisty-turny curves are where I am now, and there is peace ahead. I am in recovery. I want to get better.
Part 3? Perhaps.
Parents who complain put me over. Complainers really force me to go toe to toe with my People Pleaser tendencies. Uuugghh.