Tattoo Chronicles #2 – A Miraculous Homecoming.

This is my second tattoo. My dragonfly.

I’ve always loved dragonflies. They symbolise new beginnings.

I got this tattoo many years after cancer and the survivor tattoo, after Ben and I separated and he went away to rehab. He was never coming home. Our marriage was terribly, terribly broken. And so were we.

I was on my own with the kids and I needed something beyond surviving to help me start again. I designed this piece and took it back to the same tattoo artist as did my first one. She sighed – again with the scrolls, she said. After I had this piece done, the place where we lived – on acres by a creek – was inundated with dragonflies. I imagined I was their queen, and they were sent to protect and guide on my way to my new beginning.

I want to sneak in another story here. My very, very first tattoo was actually a teeny strawberry on my back I got when I was in my early twenties. I never showed it to anyone. It was mine and Ben’s little secret 🙂

Some time after Ben was gone and I got my dragonfly tattoo, I was flicking through a magazine and stumbled across an ad for a necklace – with a dragonfly and a strawberry hanging from it. My heart leapt. I cut it out of the magazine and taped it next to my bed. My two totems, in one gorgeous picture. I thought perhaps I might even buy that necklace one day.

But I got something better.dragonfly tattoo

It was many months later when Ben woke from his addiction in rehab and wondered where his marriage had gone.

After six months separated, and after he completed treatment, Ben came home.

The first day, he was unpacking his things when I caught him standing just staring at the picture I had taped next to my bed. “Pretty cool, huh?” I said, smiling. He looked at me, and said, “I want to show you something.” He reached down into his bag, and pulled out the exact same picture, cut from the same magazine, which he taped up beside his bed in rehab too.

Miracles happen, I’m here to tell you. This tattoo reminds me they do.
Love, Jo xxxx

Tattoo Chronicles #1 – Survivor

My first tattoo. Got it in 2008, five years after surviving cancer.

I drew this design up myself, and the tattoo artist commented it was obvious I wasn’t a tattoo artist – too many fiddly little scrolls.survivor tattoo

I wanted this tattoo more than anything. I needed a permanent reminder to never take my body for granted, and always listen to it when it speaks to me. The non-hodgkins lymphoma was stage 3B by the time it was found, undiagnosed for seven months despite my repeatedly visiting a doctor asking for tests. I knew I was sick. He told me I was just tired and working too hard. I walked into my local hospital emergency department on July 17th 2003 and told them if I was going to die, I wanted to do it in their waiting room, not in my kitchen in front of my kids. They found the saucer sized tumour in my chest within an hour of my arrival. Rushed to a bigger hospital in an ambulance, then airlifted two days later to Sydney. Three months of chemotherapy and two of radiotherapy. I learned a lot about myself in that time.

First thing I learned is my body knows what sometimes my mind and will refuses to admit. I thought I was living a good life, but it was a cacophony of compromises. My body said, fine, go there if you like, but I’m not coming with you.

It took time for me to relearn my body’s signals and to rebuild the trust between it and me. Now, I ask it first before I do anything where it will be required to bear the weight of the consequences. Sometimes it says, hell yes! Sometimes it says, are you kidding? Sometimes my body says, look at your arm, girlfriend. And when I do, I’m sometimes reminded I am not made of iron and stone. I can break. But sometimes looking at my survivor tattoo reminds me I can do very hard things. It reminds me not to expect so little of my body.

And sometimes, my tattoo reminds me becoming a survivor requires one almost die, and then come back from that…..but there be a day when I will not come back. Is this that day? No. This is not that day. Today, I live. Every day, until that day. I live.

Selah, my friends.
Jo xxx