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Tattoo Of Blood: Who Is Responsible For Your Life?


Recently, I got a Tattoo of Blood (a tattoo with no ink, disappears as you heal).  I’ve been thinking about this for a few months.  I wasn’t sure why I wanted to do this.  I am a huge wussy when it comes to pain.  Getting my hair permed is medieval torture (and much like a TOB, is costly and not permanent). 

Seventeen years ago I got an ink tattoo.  I remember being shocked at how much it hurt.  The first ten minutes were terrible.  Yes, I shed a few tears.  Then I got used to being in pain and was ok for the rest of the hour it took.  I’ve never regretted it. 

Part of the reason I wanted to do this was to see if I could sit through it again and maybe get through it with no tears.  If I could deliberately put myself in pain to get something that was just for “fun” & not permanent.  Perhaps I could use it as a symbol, a remembrance, to help me get through things that I don’t have control over.  Perhaps I could also use the memory to help me get through other things I hesitate to do because I know they will cause me some kind of pain (physical, mental, emotional, financial, of whatever form) yet will help me to a better life or be a better person. 

Surprisingly, the TOB hurt much less then I remember my IT hurting.  I was rather shocked at how much less.  There were a few spots that were a bit more tender then others and the fact that it’s not a quick pain (like a piercing, unless one is into “machine gun ear piercing”) adds on, but over all it was tolerable.  I did the usual things one does to refocus; listened to the music being played (had to watch that because I didn’t want to start tapping my foot), thought about the book I was reading (Atlas Shrugged), played with my bracelet.  Occasionally the tattooist would make conversation (it was his first TOB). 

Recently, I asked someone who is responsible for their life.  Not who is responsible for giving them life but who is responsible for their life, as in the decision making process and dealing with the outcomes of those decisions on all levels (emotional, mental, physical, financial, etc). 

The question “who is responsible for your life?” is a very easily answered question, or so I thought.  It can usually be answered in a one word, two word or, three word sentence.  It also shouldn’t matter who’s asking.  Whether it be a wino bumping into you on the street or your lover, the answer should be the same.  The questioner is irrelevant, it doesn’t matter if they “deserve” an answer or not, the answerer deserves an answer. 

As the conversation went on I was of course thinking about their responses.  I use “responses” because the question was never directly and simply answered. 

Their responses inspired a realization for me: I don’t think I have ever been asked or have asked myself that question. 

Of course, then I thought about what I would’ve answered if I had been asked at various times of my life.  I don’t think I would’ve been able to answer, or should I say, answer properly, or to put it bluntly, I don’t think I would’ve answered simply and directly. 

Oh, I probably would’ve made a joke at one time. 

Another time, I would’ve gone into some long story involving my childhood, which, granted, is probably the root of some personal issues but at this point in my life would be the equivalent of my saying I’m over weight because of baby fat.  Whatever else childhood is or was, it’s over.  Vent, take the lessons to be learned and move on (yes, I know, easier said then done, but what isn’t, and just because it isn’t easy to do doesn’t mean that it’s what shouldn’t be done).

I may have even remarked that my chemical make up or heredity may play a part in my life (I wouldn’t be the first in the family).  Now that is true for some people and of course that’s something that a person can’t help, like having diabetes.  However, just because it’s not one’s “fault” doesn’t mean that it’s not one’s responsibility.  Just as it’s a diabetic’s responsibility to deal with their disease, it is a person’s responsibility to make and deal with decisions and their outcomes. 

I probably would’ve played the martyr card as well.  ‘Why is it no matter what I do I just can’t win.  I try and try and it doesn’t get any easier.’  Like all my ventures should automatically sparkle just because I put my gold into them.  One can do everything right and for all the right reasons and still fail/loose.  Vent, take the lessons, move on.

Reasons and excuses, excuses and reasons.  There’s always something that could stop me from getting what I want because I don’t like what I’d have to do to get it.  Sometimes one has to do what one doesn’t like to get what one wants.  Sometimes there are valid reasons to not do something, like not having enough money.  That can just plan old suck.  Other times it’s simply dislike: ‘I don’t enjoy/feel comfortable doing that.’  Once a decision is made and acted upon, whether it’s in my control, partially in my control, or out of my control, it is done and I have to live with it.  I can vent to my friends for a bit but then it’s up to me to deal with it.  No, this isn’t me putting on a facade in front of my friends.  It’s me dealing and living with a decision, as well as its outcome, and not having my friends deal and live with it as well.  That’s not depending on my friends, that’s taking advantage of them. 

Venting.  Natural, necessary, healthy, normal.  If a friend should say to me something to the effect of, “Yes, that’s what I’ve been telling you over and over….”, I am no longer venting, taking the lessons, moving on, I am stuck in venting which quickly becomes whining like a twelve year old spoiled brat.  More so if I am taking no actions whatsoever to change my situation (reasons, excuses, excuses, reasons) and simply continuing to bemoan the outcomes of my choices or lack thereof.  Friends listening to friends vent is a part of friendship.  Expecting friends to listen while I whine on is not depending on my friends for support, it is taking advantage of my friends. 

I have been horrifically guilty of everything I’ve just mentioned, more than once and over a span of about two decades.  I have been the whiny, martyr, excuse making, jokester queen.  I shouldn’t be crowned, I should be kicked in the head. 

Which brings me back to my TOB.  Strangely enough, it was after the fact that I found why I wanted to get one.  Or more precisely, I could express my desire more coherently and what I wanted the TOB to represent for me. 

No matter what is going on my life or who is asking, I want to be able to answer the question “Who is responsible for your life?” simply, directly, taking all the action the answer implies, and most of all, I want to mean it. 

“Who is responsible for your life?”

I am.

July 1, 2009

(The tattoo of blood says “Penn & Teller Rule! N.P.D.” (No Permanent Damage).  The “Rule!” is centered under the “Penn & Teller”.  There is blood dripping from the words.  The “N.P.D.” is centered under all that and has blood drops splattered on it.  It’s on my right shoulder blade.  I felt that since P&T were the initial catalyst on a whole new way of life for me - skepticism, atheism, etc - they should be my TOB.  Besides, I’m responsible for my fun, right?)

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