Behind the ink

Published 6 months ago -


This past spring break I took a trip down to Miami with one of my best friends at Assumption. Her and I enjoyed a relaxing vacation away from school, work and most importantly, the snow. As we traded our boots for flip-flops, we explored the Miami Beach strip and all of its exciting offerings. One of these offerings was something I had thought about before our trip: getting a new tattoo.

Miami is a large hub for tattoo enthusiasts. People that are decorated in ornate, ink designs cover the strip. There are just as many tattoo parlors in the area as there are Dunkin Donuts in Boston; possibly to accommodate all the spring breakers looking to commemorate their trip. I, myself, was not one of these travellers, to a degree. I have thought heavily about my next tattoo from getting my last one in January. That is why I always look extensively at tattoo shops before choosing the right one.

This tattoo marks my third installment of art pieces on my body. It is also the largest, longest to complete and most uncomfortable one I have received. That being said, I was hesitant to tell my parents about this tattoo because of my history of getting them without their knowledge. My parents also, like most of their generation, do not particularly like tattoos, so I always hesitate showing them these permanent fixtures.

This time around, I decided to show my mom my latest tattoo right away. After a sly comment in front of my dad on the way to lunch, I could tell that she sensed I had gotten another one while in Miami. Later that night I talked to her and, like every other occasion, she was frustrated, annoyed and concerned.

My mom always brings up the question of: why? She always asks me, “Why is it you feel you have to get a tattoo?” She even brought up a new point about how I have a nice body frame and do not need to cover it with tattoos. The typical, and superficial, answer I usually give my parents in these scenarios is that I want to decorate my body artistically and in a positive manner. The deeper reason, which they do not know about, goes beyond sentimental designs and sayings.

I fell into a long period of depression before I got my first tattoo. It was the darkest part of my life thus far and I did not deal with it in the best ways. I usually don’t mention this side of me, but I was physically harming myself to deal with the emotional pain. At the same time, I had planned on getting my first tattoo for a while; which is a quote from a Kendrick Lamar song that deeply resonates with my life and myself.

I finally received the tattoo before summer training for Orientation 2017. While I was sprawled out on the chair on my right side and my best friends in the room, the touch of the needle reminded me of the touch of knives or scissors I had previously held to my skin in dark times. However this time around, the touch was more healing and positive and one I actually wanted on my body.  

Afterwards, during a night training session, another OL had mentioned her story of receiving a tattoo after her long history of mental illness. Her inspiring tale deeply resonated with me when she mentioned that since receiving the tattoo, she had not self-harmed once. In that moment, I realized that was who I wanted to be as well.

So the deeper meaning behind my tattoos is that I want to decorate my body with images important to me that also steer my mental health in the right direction. Since receiving my first tattoo in 2017, I also have not conducted any acts of physical self-harm and I am extremely proud of the progress I have made. That being said, I will not get a tattoo every time I fall down, but only when I deem the time is right to remind myself of the long journey I have undergone to find satisfaction in my life.

Featured Quote: “If I told you that a flower bloomed in a dark room would you trust it?” – “Poetic Justice,” Kendrick Lamar

Featured Song: “Who Do You Love?” by Marianas Trench

Featured Image: Find Your Balance

David Cifarelli, a senior, studies English and Italian. He is the Editor-In-Chief of Le Provocateur.

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