Here is something I’m not proud to admit.
I got a matching tattoo with a guy I was dating.
I know, I know. Technically, I should have known better.
In my defence, I am naturally an impulsive person.
And in my second defence, it was a tattoo I had already contemplated getting (yes, it’s as horribly cliche as you might think).
So there, I found myself at a random tattoo shop on a random Saturday afternoon, getting a little love heart inked on the inside of my wrist.
I could tell what the staff were thinking.
“Here comes another couple who will surely come to regret this decision.”
Well, you can guess what happened; we broke up.
I like to think it was worst for him because while it marked my third tattoo, it was his first.
Rather than get into the details of what transpired and what didn’t between us, I’m going to tell you about the journey of my tattoo.
I was so down after the breakup that every time I looked at this stupid, little love heart, I questioned my ability to choose the right people.
It reminded me of the failures from the past and the fact that my big ideas about love hadn’t materialised the way that I thought they would.
So I did what anyone who regrets their tattoo would do: I went to get it lasered off.
It was relatively painless and I was thankful that John, the man behind the machine, didn’t ask me the origins of it (although he probably has enough experience not to).
By the time the second appointment rolled around, he told me that it would most likely take 12 appointments in total for it to be gone completely. As I contemplated the fact that it would cost 10 times the amount it took to put it on in the first place to remove it, I knew I had to mull some things over.
Some time passed, as it does, and with it the negative connotations I had associated with my tattoo.
After deciding to not move ahead with the remaining 10 appointments, I once again looked at the outline on my wrist.
The curved lines were no longer as crisp, and it looked like my heart had aged prematurely.
No, it didn’t need to be removed; it just needed to be redefined.
And on a recent trip to Thailand, it was exactly what I did.
Like a true Western tourist, I dropped into a tattoo studio in Bangkok on a night out, and I once again got a tattoo of a little heart in the exact same place I had a year and a half prior.
The funny thing is, it looked a million times better than it did the first time around.
It felt more like me. It was more like me.
Suddenly, I had unlocked a new core memory. This time with my best friend and a few cocktails.
You may be sitting there, judging my life decisions and wondering if maybe I need to invest in myself more than I do impulsive tattoos or relationships.
Yeah, I had maybe given love a bit too freely to those who didn’t really know how to properly receive it. I just couldn’t let the past define me in such a way that I was going to start blaming other people rather than take full ownership of my heart and of my choices.
What I was discounting was that I was, and have always been, the same passionate person who believes enough in love to not be jaded by it.
I know that it has and will always start with me first. I also accept that it will never be a fix-all or a perfect reflection of what I believe it to be.
It could, though, be this messy thing that needs a few attempts before it gets to where it needs to be—an unfolding of sorts.
That, to me, is what love is, irrespective if it’s with another person or not.
So while I’m not proud that I got a matching tattoo with someone I dated, I am proud and will always be proud of the shape of my heart that continues to be redefined as each year passes.
Stronger than ever.