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  • On why I have no tattoos

    This was going to be a letter, but then I got worried about the ethics of telling all to just one person - the solitary albatross that skims across the ocean sky weighs impossibly heavy on the shoulders of a lone mariner. I suppose I have to give content warnings... child abuse, sexual abuse, general gore, emotional trauma, self harm... It feels odd, because I'm not writing this from a position of feeling traumatised and what follows is (as best as I can make it) a literary construct, a carefully collated collection of words, but the fact remains the content could be triggering/traumatising.

    Okay. Still with me?

    One of my all-time favourite books is Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson. It occurred to me today, as I was mulling over words to encapsulate my thoughts, that it is a novel about cancer. Usually, I think of it as a story about love and, clearly, about the body. Here are some words:
    Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights: the accumulations of a lifetime gather there. In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like braille.

    Now, what follows is a meditation of sorts on why I've never quite managed to get a tattoo even though I know exactly what I would like and why, but that is another story for another time...

    You may have realised by now that I'm completely open, transparent. You might think that I'm different in real life, but no: what you read is what you get. There's nothing here that I wouldn't tell you face to face.

    I don't have tattoos because I have scars. And that statement needs unpacking.

    I'll be using a lot of metaphors about water. I can't help it, I was born with water on the brain and the tidal pull of salt water feels as essential to me as a heart beat.

    So. I'm as transparent as water, truly, but although if you hold water in your cupped hands it can magnify detail, there is a paradox - the more clarity there is, as a coherent body, the more opaque things get. I'm completely transparent, just as the open sea is. Can you see the ocean floor? No. An open body of water only offers an impressionistic reflection of the sky.

    Today I want to dive to the depths of the ocean floor and retrieve some fossils. Why are they fossils? Because they are the traces of what was once there; an imprinted record of a thing long gone. These are fossils of scars I no longer have. My prehistoric scars.

    One on my left shoulder, a slash, and the second a harvest of tiny crop circles on my labia: these were once the diary of my first year. They disappeared in puberty, or thereabouts, and I would like to honour their memory. One was the only non-documentary evidence I had of physical abuse, the other the contested evidence of either neglect or sexual abuse. I have nothing else. Court reports. Photos. Social workers' notes. Letters. I destroyed them all in a fit of rage when I was six, maybe, seven.

    While I was incredibly relieved that the crop circles went, I miss the slash. Something I held to - a castle in the shifting sands, my only evidence of a life before, the only evidence of a birth mother's troubled touch - disappeared in the tide of time.

    My biography is written on my skin, not in ink, but in scar tissue. I have a multitude of scars and every one tells a different story. There are the scars from hydrocephalus - two slashes on my neck and a tiny 'spine' behind my right ear. There are the scars from asserting my independence before I was ready - bunking off school I got hit by a car and under my arm I have the stitch scars and the pin scar, somewhere under my hair are the fracture scars - my impaired hearing is another, and the loss of skin scars on my elbow to prove it. I have a mirror scar on the other elbow from being pushed into traffic by a high-school nemesis. There are scars from chicken pox, because my acne was so bad no one noticed I was ill. There's the attacked-by-a-hedge scar, that looks like a knife cut, across my wrist. And then, on the same arm, there's the scar from the night, much, much later, I cut my artery with a freshly sharpened kitchen knife to let out some of the shame I was feeling. There are the growth scars - parallel slashes across each hipbone that appeared when I went on the pill and left home (in hasty succession). There are the scars of feeding, claw marks on each breast. There are the scars from closed piercings - nose, nipples - that occasionally seem to swell or want to leak.

    And I love these scars. It seems strange to me that anyone would think that scars are something to avoid or minimise. More than any art, any words, any ink. These are memories written on the vel[l]um - the veil, the sail, the skin - of my being. The memories I can remember and the memories I cannot.

    Without my scars and the fossils on the ocean floor, I only have other people's words for what happened to me. I will not ink words on my skin. My scar tissue is a beautiful map with no need of further illustration.

    Be warned, here be monsters.

    Now, because I'm about to drink and because I'm actually incredibly happy to have survived, scars and all, here is a song for today
    Last edited by badgergirl; 02-07-2014, 05:14 AM. Reason: anatomical extactitude
    I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

    Comment


    • Wow BG, that's pretty deep, does sound like you're in a reasonable place, at least I hope you are! I'm a pretty much you see what you get person, but no good at expressing meself, but then again I'm a bloke, so!

      Hope you've cracked open the vino after laying that lot on the table....

      And can't see the song, bloody firewall, will check later!

      Originally posted by Clarkie View Post
      Very good news about your tatas! Is there generally alcohol involved when one has one's nipples pierced? Not the disinfecting variety. I think I'd have to be good and shit faced before entertaining the idea. Looking forward to the pics though
      If there wasn't any alcohol involved, I'm with you, I reckon it would be a good idea....And me....

      Originally posted by ssn679doc View Post
      the perineal repair give a whole new meaning to getting your ass in a knot.....

      bets them was some crappy pics for your article......
      *Groan*....

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Dhansakdave View Post
        Wow BG, that's pretty deep, does sound like you're in a reasonable place, at least I hope you are! I'm a pretty much you see what you get person, but no good at expressing meself, but then again I'm a bloke, so!

        Hope you've cracked open the vino after laying that lot on the table.....
        Sweetheart, I'm fine. Or as fine as I ever am. These are the things I carry with me always and forever - I will not let them go, because they are the only history I have. And I love the artistry, the artifice of finding the right word, the right sound to echo and reverberate my thought in the mind of another. The thoughts I have always; the words are what I write for the reader.

        It's a reciprocal arrangement. A gift, I hope.


        (and yes, I'm one bottle of grape essence to the good.)
        Last edited by badgergirl; 02-07-2014, 02:40 AM.
        I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

        Comment


        • ! Good - emotionally, your gift - it is, and a bottle in, good on you me dear after the last few days....

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Dhansakdave View Post
            ! Good - emotionally, your gift - it is, and a bottle in, good on you me dear after the last few days....
            The story is my gift to you. The narrative is my own. Semantics? Maybe. But there's truth there. And now it's 1.5 bottles to the good and one day soon for all or one I shall explore the very many benefits of restraint when one secretly knows that one has none...

            As an exemplar, I'll tell the story of the night I danced with, and passionately kissed, a Swedish Pulp Fiction-era Uma Thurman lookylikey and, poxybadgers, infidelity be damned, I will regret walking away with tears in my eyes for the rest of my life
            I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

            Comment


            • Restraint is overrated, being infinite the universe hasn't shown any....

              Will have to view your gift when I gets home I'm afraid, the company firewall ain't too keen on youtube (miserable baskets)!

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Dhansakdave View Post
                Restraint is overrated, being infinite the universe hasn't shown any....
                You're knocking at an open door. Be careful what you wish for.
                I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                Comment


                • I have just spent a happy afternoon curating the music on my 'moogie' (an mp3 player, we needed something zippy to name a not-ipod and the label stuck - the three of us each have our own...mine has the largest capacity, natch). I bought selected hits from the mp3 back catalogue of three recording artistes: Jenny Owen Youngs, Ani DiFranco and AFP. Three female singer songwriters that either identify as bi or completely gay. What are the chances...
                  I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                  Comment


                  • Re the mystery breast pain, I finally twigged, I've felt this many times before: it's the letdown reflex. BUT i HAVEN'T HAD MILK FOR A FULL TWO YEARS.

                    Now, why it's partial (2 o'clock left and 6 o'clock right) I could not tell you. But, I'm afraid it truly will be a case of suck it and see. The milk of human kindness overflows (and there really was such a song on the Wonder Years as the closing credits rolled, wasn't there? tell me I wasn't tripping). I need the pain to resolve fast. Do you think husband will indulge me? I want this cleared..."creeping out to come inside" a lyrical opportunity missed there, I feel (NSFW):

                    I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                    Comment


                    • Phew. I feel a lot better for getting all that off my chest. I've spent 30-odd hours really stirring up sediment. Now I think we can get back to normal programming.
                      I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                      Comment


                      • There are three fires - one (from what I can gather) for each of the roads out of the suburb of doom and, yes, we're subject to an emergency warning. The wind is getting up. We've got the CFA site on refresh, but I'm more worried about next week (will be hot and dry until Thursday) and small boy's school. This week; it's been trippy. Gordon Bennett.
                        I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                        Comment


                        • My brain continues to projectile vomit thoughts in all directions. I think I'm down to spewing bile now. Fun times.
                          I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                          Comment


                          • What's going on BG? You ok?

                            Comment


                            • Right/write, let's see if I can unpack this in a way that makes sense and is helpful without throwing fuel on the fire. So. I have a tendency to relate to people in the abstract, including myself. I tend to fence things off with words and thoughts without feeling them. Equally, I tend not to have boundaries and I find it difficult to recognise the boundaries of others. I'm usually okay in the day-to-day, but get me drinking or invite me to bare my soul and, well, things can get overwrought very quickly. Now, I find writing to be a very powerful, engaging, all-consuming creative act, but it's not necessarily a healthy one. I can be quite aggressive in my desire to share and get off on the exhibitionism of it, not to mention the facile, clever-clever word play. I likened it once to inviting someone to 'f*ck my stigmata' and in that phrase you have it all: the aggression, the exhibitionism, trading on my history, the equalling of writing with sex. On Friday and Saturday I gave myself a excuse to go on a bender as it had been a tough, tough week.

                              I wasn't really feeling much, but a lot of people were feeling things *at* me and I realised once the relief set in that I'd been shoring myself up against other people's worry. I was tired. Equally, I'd started trading on/exhibiting wounds again. This might be new to the eyes reading the words, but it's not new to the fingers typing them. I've been doing this since university and I haven't gone anywhere with it. All the abstract self-knowledge, but the patterns remain as strong as ever.

                              There's that dichotomy between letting go of all restraint in the abstract and living an extremely restrained life in the actual. A lot of rebellion and destruction happens in my head that doesn't make it any further - this weekend I had a rebellion session without leaving the sofa. Perhaps I need to put my life where my thoughts are. Perhaps, though, I should stop engaging in thinking sessions that indulge this conceit that I'm somehow this dangerous life force that's simply masquerading as a suburban mum.

                              I dug out some of the creative writing I'd saved from my degree. And, well, it's all so repetitive - same issues, same thoughts, same imagery and vision of self - I have the same thoughts, ideas, use the same images now. It's as if I've frozen a part of myself at that point and never moved past it.

                              So. Yeah. Where do I go from here?
                              I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
                                Being a bit wierd (no comment), I kind of like acoustic covers of dance songs, there's a cover of Robyn's 'Dancing on My Own', which is great, but I couldn't find it, the version by the Finnish ladies choir ain't bad though....

                                Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
                                Be careful what you wish for.
                                At the moment I wish me sciatica would bugger off!!

                                Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
                                I have just spent a happy afternoon curating the music on my 'moogie' (an mp3 player, we needed something zippy to name a not-ipod and the label stuck - the three of us each have our own...mine has the largest capacity, natch). I bought selected hits from the mp3 back catalogue of three recording artistes: Jenny Owen Youngs, Ani DiFranco and AFP. Three female singer songwriters that either identify as bi or completely gay. What are the chances...
                                Pure coincidence, I'm sure....

                                Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
                                Re the mystery breast pain, I finally twigged, I've felt this many times before: it's the letdown reflex. BUT i HAVEN'T HAD MILK FOR A FULL TWO YEARS.

                                Now, why it's partial (2 o'clock left and 6 o'clock right) I could not tell you. But, I'm afraid it truly will be a case of suck it and see. The milk of human kindness overflows (and there really was such a song on the Wonder Years as the closing credits rolled, wasn't there? tell me I wasn't tripping). I need the pain to resolve fast. Do you think husband will indulge me? I want this cleared..."creeping out to come inside" a lyrical opportunity missed there, I feel (NSFW):
                                Had to look up letdown reflex, not really something I'm likely to suffer from thankfully, how bizarre is that!

                                Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
                                There are three fires - one (from what I can gather) for each of the roads out of the suburb of doom and, yes, we're subject to an emergency warning. The wind is getting up. We've got the CFA site on refresh, but I'm more worried about next week (will be hot and dry until Thursday) and small boy's school. This week; it's been trippy. Gordon Bennett.
                                'Black Saturday' was mentioned on our news this morning, hope you're in no danger of getting burnt down!

                                Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
                                My brain continues to projectile vomit thoughts in all directions. I think I'm down to spewing bile now. Fun times.
                                Originally posted by Clarkie View Post
                                What's going on BG? You ok?
                                I'll echo that....

                                Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
                                Right/write, let's see if I can unpack this in a way that makes sense and is helpful without throwing fuel on the fire. So. I have a tendency to relate to people in the abstract, including myself. I tend to fence things off with words and thoughts without feeling them. Equally, I tend not to have boundaries and I find it difficult to recognise the boundaries of others. I'm usually okay in the day-to-day, but get me drinking or invite me to bare my soul and, well, things can get overwrought very quickly. Now, I find writing to be a very powerful, engaging, all-consuming creative act, but it's not necessarily a healthy one. I can be quite aggressive in my desire to share and get off on the exhibitionism of it, not to mention the facile, clever-clever word play. I likened it once to inviting someone to 'f*ck my stigmata' and in that phrase you have it all: the aggression, the exhibitionism, trading on my history, the equalling of writing with sex. On Friday and Saturday I gave myself a excuse to go on a bender as it had been a tough, tough week.

                                I wasn't really feeling much, but a lot of people were feeling things *at* me and I realised once the relief set in that I'd been shoring myself up against other people's worry. I was tired. Equally, I'd started trading on/exhibiting wounds again. This might be new to the eyes reading the words, but it's not new to the fingers typing them. I've been doing this since university and I haven't gone anywhere with it. All the abstract self-knowledge, but the patterns remain as strong as ever.

                                There's that dichotomy between letting go of all restraint in the abstract and living an extremely restrained life in the actual. A lot of rebellion and destruction happens in my head that doesn't make it any further - this weekend I had a rebellion session without leaving the sofa. Perhaps I need to put my life where my thoughts are. Perhaps, though, I should stop engaging in thinking sessions that indulge this conceit that I'm somehow this dangerous life force that's simply masquerading as a suburban mum.

                                I dug out some of the creative writing I'd saved from my degree. And, well, it's all so repetitive - same issues, same thoughts, same imagery and vision of self - I have the same thoughts, ideas, use the same images now. It's as if I've frozen a part of myself at that point and never moved past it.

                                So. Yeah. Where do I go from here?
                                Not sure what to say that would actually be useful, so I won't! I realise it's another feeling that's *at* you, but just hope you're okay.

                                Comment

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