(A cop out. And nod to all the times you said “I don’t know” when I asked you what was wrong.)
The fact of the matter she said. Like facts matter. You can say Please do the dishes but what I hear is The labor you perform is insufficient/You are insufficient/You are too much not enough. She wrapped hands too small for their great strength around the barrel of a needle, made incisions in the cloth left behind at crime scenes, looked deep at the source of hurt so she could turn her back on her own. The fact of the matter hung between. A long forgotten murmurance. A shadow highlighting obstruction. Say things too often and they lose their meaning. The fact of the matter. The matter. The fact. The matter of fact. The matter of fact way she dissected us. Laid the body on a metal slab. Went through the motions. Fingers sure and palms unsweaty as they ran over the upset messy tangle of organs and infected tissue. Say things too often and they lose their meaning. Or take on new ones. Like I love you. Like please do the dishes. Like forever. Like goodbye.
The past two months have been super rough on me. It took me until about two weeks ago to admit to myself and, eventually, my circle of humans, that I have been depressed.
Depression is a weird animal. It creeps up on you like a fog. The world gets hazier and hazier until you realize you can’t see the landscape around you anymore. Everything happens through a thick mask of atmosphere and it’s hard to tell whether you’re coming or going.
When I started being unable to do basic things like laundry and couldn’t articulate my needs at all when anyone asked me about anything, that’s when I knew I was deep in the depression fog. Well, that and when I found myself crying in the bathroom when I was brushing my teeth. And all the napping. Let’s face it, there were lots of signs. But still, the realization was slow.
Crawling out has been hard. It’s still hard. The monologue going on inside my head is gross and abusive when I’m depressed. Think Hyperbole and a Half. Every time I have to do something, I wind up not doing it because I don’t have the energy. But every time I don’t do something, my inner voice gets more and more aggressively negative and hateful.
Going to therapy helps. My therapist has made this bout of depression my quickest turn around that I can remember. I’m so grateful that I’m in a place in my life where I have insurance and can afford to take the time for myself to treat my mental health with the care that it deserves.
I’m still not 100% there. I feel run down and not super excited about what’s going on. But the hateful voice in my head is a lot quieter. And I have enough energy to contemplate getting back to doing crafty things that make me happy, which will go a long way to helping me feel myself again.
As it is, opening up this blog again is a good sign and makes me feel good about where things are going. You will hear more from me in the coming weeks and months, now that the fog is lifting.
Today is the day I finish my tattoo. I didn’t choose the date on purpose, I swear.
I planned my back piece for ten years. I thought about it. Obsessed over it. Poured over it’s meaning and symbolism. The dogwood tree for my mother. For the guidance she provided in teaching me about the natural world. It also stood for my Catholic upbringing. For the tree on which Christ was crucified. For consequences. For the way in which our actions can cause ripples in the lives of our inheritors. The dogwood is the first tree in this region to burst forth in springtime celebration. It’s life is brief. It is small and delicate. But it endures harsh winters. The tree on my back is a permanent reminder that spring is coming. And that fragile-seeming things can endure great hardship.
I have always maintained that tattoos are a way of finishing a body. Of putting the final flourishes on when you are incomplete. They mark the way through your life. They are also a way of taking the body back, be it from some type of trauma, from illness, even from ourselves.
I have not always loved my body. It is probably fairer to say that I do not always love my body. It is not my friend the majority of the time. It fights me. It is tired when I want to work. It does not fit into the clothes I want to wear. But it is so vital, so important. Marking it, finishing it, serves not only as an artistic act but as an act of claiming this thing I ride around in. This is my body. Tattoos seal my body to myself. They make me present inside my skin.
Anyone who has gotten a tattoo can attest to the fact that they can also be transformative. When I started it three years and two months ago, I was on the verge of ending a terrible relationship with an emotionally abusive sociopath. I walked in feeling sad and defeated. Something in the motion of the needle and the act of drawing on and making permanent this idea that had been dwelling in my brain for a decade… activated me.
I walked out of the tattoo parlor 8 hours after I walked in with a spring in my step that I had not had in years. The next day I packed up my most vital stuff in big ass trash bags, grabbed my cat, and moved out to my parents’ house.
My tattoo changed my life. It helped me to lay claim to my body. It has helped me to sort through my past. It has moved me forward in ways I find difficult to express.
It’s been over three years. Today it will mostly likely be finished. I cannot wait to be finished.