In a dream you saw a way to survive
I came into this tattoo shop to remind myself that you may always remember what has happened to you, but your body will keep changing. A body can become unfamiliar to someone else’s in time. Here’s where counting becomes comforting: Red blood cells can live up to four months, white blood cells just under a month, skin cells a little over a month and a half. This means progress—my body is now all mine again. I survive my history by making my body new in other ways, too: I change my hair color constantly.
While I’d like this to be a neat narrative where I have gotten over my fears, my anxiety, my triggers, and my nightmares about sex after assault, I haven’t entirely. But I’ve learned that, sometimes, you don’t move on. You move through.
It took me a frustratingly long time to live with the aftermath of my assaults. Sometimes, I still get pulled back into nightmares, but I find comfort in the fact that I woke up. The sun is shining. There are dogs in the park. I woke up. I am not altogether my past. The bruises that bloomed faded away, too. Any body, with time, can be new. And that is a blessing. That is joy. That’s why I decided to permanently ink this quote by Jenny Holzer on my body: to reflect that.
In a dream you saw a way to survive, and you were full of joy.
I’m delirious with pain. I feel fuzzy and light, but I’m awake, and I’m not a ghost—I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive. The difference between this ache and the aches from before: I am safe. I could have told the artist to stop at any time, but I didn’t want to. I decided. I chose to mark my body as my own territory. It’s entirely mine, and though it always was, I know that now, and I blossom, and I bloom. ♦
Way to survive by Arabelle.