Pain and Loss and My First Tattoo

Friends tease me about the fact that I find papercuts painful and that I hyperventilate whenever I get poked with a needle. (thanks to having donated my plasma one too many times in college). But giving birth without meds? No problem. It hurts, but pushing a baby out seems natural to me; stabbing my skin with metal (aka a needle) is not natural to me, which does something to my psyche and causes me to freak out (being an HSP probably doesn’t help, either). But the most painful sensation I’ve ever experienced is definitely laser hair removal (well, that and watching JTT leave Home Improvement; still not over it;). Yowch. Like, why-am-I-paying-somebody-to-inflict-such-pain-on-me kind of pain.

So when I told my laser hair removal technician that I would be getting my first tattoo, she laughed and warned me to not writhe and screech like I do when she’s lasering my hair, otherwise I’ll end up with a very deformed tattoo. Her opinion is that laser hair removal is worse than tattoos, but knowing my sensitivity, she did suggest the use of lidocaine as an option for me. I looked into it, but ended up deciding to brave it like a big person.

And she was right. Laser hair removal is wayyy more painful than getting a tattoo (at least a tattoo of the size I got). Laser hair removal feels like your skin is being burned; getting a tattoo feels a little more like you’re being carved. So, you know, two very great sensations. 😛

But the uncomfortable sensation dwarfed in comparison to the struggles and loss of the past couple years. It’s been years since I’ve experienced such a dark season in my personal life. Everything seemed affected, from finances to job (in)stability to relationships to broken dreams and more. It felt like death and decay surrounded me, leaving nothing untouched. The darkness invaded and snuffed out the spark inside of me… joy seemed to have vanished and lethargy and monotony took over. Every day felt like a game of survival. But it wasn’t until I got out from that dark time that I realized just how dark it was. When I was in it, it felt normal; sad but normal. But looking back, I tend to refer to that time as the ‘Great Depression’ in my personal life. Sounds a little dramatic, but it seems to grasp the darkness and void within me during that time.

So as I looked around my life and saw all this death and decay surrounding me, it forced me to focus on the reality of resurrection. That death comes before the great resurrection. And that’s what I kept praying for – that all of this death would not be in vain, would not be the end, but that something beautiful would be born from these ashes. I had no idea what that would look like or what that would feel like, but I yearned for that from the innermost of my being.

And then it happened.

Just as the sun began to feel warm at the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring here in Minnesota, the sun also seemed to dawn on the darkness inside of me. Hope became tangible instead of just imaginable, and my whole being seemed to be filled with light and with lightness. It felt beautiful and wonderful and almost too good to be true. Trudging through the darkness for so long can make the bright future seem impossible to reach. But it comes. Slowly but surely, it comes. And when it does, it’s everything your heart has hungered for. You go from head down, shoulders slumped, and a heavy trudge to head thrown back, arms spread wide, and a twirl so light you feel like you’re flying. It’s EXACTLY what you need and hoped would never come.

So as I emerged from this dark season, I thought it appropriate to get a tattoo to mark this occasion – to celebrate the Light and the fact that love and light and new life will always win, and darkness will end.

And that’s where the phrase “the sun will rise” came from. That even though the dark night seems to never end, the sun will rise once again. It’s a truth I hope to always remember.

So if you’re in a time of pain and loss, I’m praying for you – for the strength to make it through and for the healing and wholeness to be so beautiful that you nearly soar with the lightness and light that it brings. And if you get a tattoo about it, let me know – I love seeing the tattoos people choose and what it means to them! Plus, I just might get inspiration from you for my next tattoo. 😉

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