Tiffany, two macaroons and a tattoo.

Twenty four April 2021 was a big day, a momentous day, a liberating day.

It was the day I was going to get my first tattoo. I woke up early. Not a normal habit for me. I have in my life found mornings to be rude and obnoxious, but in my current emotional and mental state, I have been waking with the birds. An awakening to which I have embraced whilst in this introspective journey of learning to love myself again and being okay with being alone. It was the day that I was to action a very deliberate decision to ensure that I, on myself, had a Post-it note on my body for the rest of my life.  

I have contemplated getting a tattoo for many years. I have had a Pinterest board labeled “hot bearded men with tattoos”, my twitter account, I retweeted images of tattoos. I have friends with amazing tattoos that I have admired, and I’ve had numerous hook-ups over the years with men that had transformed their bodies into inked canvases… it was a ‘thing’ for me.

Up till this point in my life I was never brave enough to do it. But I also could never decide what my tattoo would be. There was always the inner conflict of the permanence of a tattoo and if I could live with seeing it every day for the rest of my life. I did know, I didn’t want to have one purely for aesthetics’ or because it was a trend. I was never resolved, until 31 March 2021.

I knew I wanted that date in March etched on my body as a permanent reminder. The date was significant because it was the date my relationship ended. The relationship that I thought was never going to end, but more importantly when I drove away with my clothes packed in the car, it was the date when I had the self-realisation that everything inside of me and how I felt about myself needed to change. The awareness in me, that the person I had become, particularly in the past ten years needed to be purged, rejected and vomited out. 

I had lost on this date the person I love so profoundly and I knew I could not move forward in life without a inward change and a significant adjustment of myself, for myself going forward. 

Whilst mulling over what words I wanted scribed on my skin beneath the date, I reflected on how us humans can just be really fucking stupid, ignorant and damn right self-absorbed. We completely miss the point of our own existence, our contribution and value in relationships, our ability to love and be loved, how to be compassionate and empathetic and quite simply, how to enjoy life. 

We get it so damn wrong in our own minds all the time. Our brains utter these silly little words, that become wonderfully constructed sentences, that become protracted paragraphs and before you know it, you’ve created another chapter for a book that should never have been written. A book of the mind that is filled with words of negativity, chapters of pessimism and an entire story that is rather hopeless in providing any positive value or constructive way forward for yourself or anyone close to you. And the biggest downfall here, for all of us, is that these books that start out as single words are never uttered to anyone. These words stay well preserved in the books that lie on the bookshelves of our own mind, so they can gather more screwed-up life dust in our fucked-up library. We are too scared to tell others what is really going on in our minds and how we are feeling, so we just let the words linger and wait till it all fucks out and then you acknowledge that you are actually just a rather miserable individual, and in most cases blaming someone else or the world for your misery. Our own pity party for one.

Misery aside, I knew I wanted the words “Give you”, as these were the words my ex had said to me when I left. These two words were so sad in the moment, but I understood precisely what he meant when he said them. When one has the ability to see past the veil, which he got right most of the time, not always, then you get it. I got it. So, for my tattoo,  I had the date and I had his words. “Give you.”

I involved my youngest daughter, going on thirteen this year, in my search for the accompanying words. We underestimate the value a teenager can provide. They are filled with raw emotions, and if they are able to talk about them, which I’m trying to encourage in her, they have a very modest and astute way of explaining their feelings in a manner that is less complicated than we adults do. We lay on the lawn, with the laptop on the blanket and I rambled some words to her. When I was typing a few sentences, she was the one who said, “Dad, that sounds like it comes from a place of anger, do you really want that on your body forever?” She was my sense checker, my editor, my teacher. She was right! I agreed with her teenage wisdom that I was still too emotional and had too much hurt and anger fermenting inside, so I let the words rest for a few days and instead we browsed fonts and took a refresher in Roman numerals. 

The next few days I spent some time journaling, jotting down actions, behaviors, responses, and situations that I never wanted to repeat or experience again. Somehow in this process the words, “Be faithful to yourself” started floating around in my mind. I wrote them down in my journal, and when I saw them on paper, I knew I had the words for my body. In these words there was an honesty of self, about me. If I was going to be better at being better, loving myself again, and being okay with being alone, then I acknowledge that I need to be ‘faithful to myself’.  

What I love about these words is the affirmative power they have, and the way in which they provide me with a measure to check my inner voice –  which is not always right – towards my actions, behaviour and kindness for myself and indirectly towards others. 

There is a beautiful sense of authenticity that lives within these words that I require in this introspective journey and is essential in my life going forward. I have in the past decade lost so much of myself, so much of my true nature and I need to reclaim the legitimacy of me with as much gentleness, empathy and faithfulness. 

I finally had the ‘art’ I was going to permanently ink on my body. So many years of deliberation, fear and uncertainty had suddenly become a pure, decisive action that needed to be done with urgency. I wanted this date and these words engraved on my body, on a place where I could always see it. I had my Post-it note and it was going to be

XXXI III MMXXI

Be faithful to yourself. Give You.

I sat in the chair with my left arm stretched out and eagerly waited for the ink to be injected into my skin. I hypnotically watched as the tattoo artist meticulously and steadily traced over the stencil on my inner forearm. Watching and feeling the sensation of the fine needle going into my skin was meditative to me.

In the background the Eurythmics were playing “There must be an angel” followed by Tiffany’s “I think we’re alone now”. I smiled, as I’m a die-hard 80’s music fan, so the playlist in the tattoo parlour could have come from my own music library. I loved the ridiculousness of the words of the teenage search for love in Tiffany’s song, because that doesn’t really change as you get older, and I remembered the inane music video of her performing in shopping malls to adoring adolescent fans and wondered where in the world Tiffany may be? Still in a shopping mall? Did she ever tumble to the ground with someone’s arms around her. So silly. So eighties. 

I stared out the window at the beautiful giant oak tree that filled the entire courtyard space of the Victorian-styled building where the tattoo parlour operates. I again, had a smile on my face thinking how my ex and I differed in opinion regarding fallen leaves. He loved them, I not so much. Don’t get me wrong, I love fallen leaves, just not in the small courtyard we had. The leaves made it all feel a little too messy and chaotic in our tiny home and garden. So, I would sweep them up into a pile for my OCD and then put the pile underneath the swing chair that was positioned in the one corner of the courtyard. I thought that was a beautiful solution to our differences, as he was the one who loved to sit on the swing chair. I got the neat, and he got the leaves under his spot in the courtyard. What a win for both. A beautiful compromise.

It didn’t take long for the tattoo artist to be finished. I didn’t need to think about fallen leaves or Tiffany any longer. Molly was done, she had completed the last full stop. All the years, overthinking about a tattoo was over in twenty-five minutes. I looked at what was now on my inner forearm, the date, 31 March 2021 in Roman numerals and in classic Times New Roman font, the words “Be faithful to yourself. Give You.” and I absolutely valued what I saw. I felt liberated. I felt like I had been faithful to myself in doing something for myself.

Molly wrapped my arm in cling wrap and gave me the after-care instruction card. When I read it, I wished that when you go through a break-up or experience loss, someone could just wrap you in clingwrap for a while and give you an after-care instruction card that tells you in three steps exactly how you will be taken care of and be healed in five days. Just gently and sparingly rub some balm on yourself two to three times a day and softly with your hands clean with anti-emotional soap and you will be better in no time. Alas, that only works for a tattoo.  

I thanked Molly and went down the stairs into the courtyard, stood under the monumental oak tree and peered inside the quaint bakery window. I saw some macaroons. The turquoise ones particularly caught my eye. I went inside and ordered a coffee to go and two of the macaroons, labelled by their flavour as, ‘sea salt and dark chocolate’. It was the closest I was going to get to walking on the beach with my tattooed arm in the air and feeling the sea water lap over my feet. I always feel a sense of liberation and freedom when walking on a beach, so for today the sea salt macaroons would have to suffice. I bought two, I was going to celebrate my liberating moment with my youngest daughter. She had been part of this process of getting the words right and was the one who actually told me about Molly the tattoo artist. We would later on have our moment of two macaroons and my tattoo.

So, my arm and macaroons sealed, I got in my car and drove off. I turned up the volume and put on repeat Fleetwood Mac’s, “Little lies”. Mmm, this song, these lyrics…

If I could turn the page

In time then I’d rearrange just a day or two

Close my, close my, close my eyes

But I couldn’t find a way

So I’ll settle for one day to believe in you

Tell me, tell me, tell me lies

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Tell me lies

Tell me, tell me lies

Oh no-no, you can’t disguise

You can’t disguise

No, you can’t disguise

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Although I’m not making plans

I hope that you’ll understand there’s a reason why

Close your, close your, close your eyes

No more broken hearts

We’re better off apart, let’s give it a try

Tell me, tell me, tell me lies

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Tell me lies

Tell me, tell me lies

Oh no-no, you can’t disguise

You can’t disguise

No, you can’t disguise

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

If I could turn the page

In time then I’d rearrange just a day or two

Close my, close my, close my eyes

But I couldn’t find a way

So, I’ll settle for one day to believe in you

Tell me, tell me, tell me lies

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Tell me lies

Tell me, tell me lies

Oh no-no, you can’t disguise

You can’t disguise

No, you can’t disguise

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Tell me lies

Tell me, tell me lies

Oh no-no, you can’t disguise

You can’t disguise

No, you can’t disguise

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Tell me, tell me lies

I drove to nowhere for over an hour listening to Christine and Stevie sing these words and continuously looking at the newly imprinted words on my arm. As much as I wanted the song to be about my break-up, my loss, about rearranging a few days or two in my relationship, the words were about me…  

I can’t tell myself any more lies, I can no longer disguise, I can’t rearrange one or two days of the past and I’m better off apart from some of my carried histories. I need to believe in me. Be faithful to myself and give me. 

There was liberation and a legitimacy for me in listening to this song and reading my words and his words on my arm. The poignant date of self-awareness when my life did rearrange, not one page or two pages, but an entire lifetime of shelved books that had been written in my mind. 

When I eventually got home post my tattoo drive to nowhere, I pulled up the drive and Tiffany came back into my head, singing, “I think we’re alone now, there doesn’t seem to be anyone around, I think we’re alone now, the beating of our hearts is the only sound”. I didn’t tell Tiffany to shut up, she was right, we were alone, her and I, and my heart was beating to a liberated beat for the momentous day of a deliberate action in my journey of being faithful to myself and giving me to me. 

I want to end this story by saying to all of you who read this. “Be faithful to yourself.” There is power in these words.  These words grant us permission to be authentic to ourselves and to others, and if you are authentic and faithful to yourself, then by that truth, you can only “Give you” to you, and to others.

Surrender into yourself.

xxx

I made my bed today!