The Scratched Out Face…

So it’s been but a day since I’ve had my new tattoo. For those who missed the post, here it is:

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The question I’ve gotten from a few people is who is that person in the picture frame? Whose face is marked out of that picture? Some have speculated it’s an ex-lover, an ex-friend or something of the sort. Truth be told when Jade first drew it up I didn’t quite know either (note: this was an element in the original concept drawing she did with the hourglass and scroll, but it didn’t fit on my left side). I just knew it spoke to me in some way and asked her to add the element back in for this piece. Well today, in my daily BSing and virtual cuddling with my beloved neuro-sister Laina, I figured it out.

So who is this person? I can’t speak for Jade and her vision in the original drawing. That said, as I’m the one wearing the tattoo, it’s up to me to define, so here’s your answer: that person is *ME*.

Now hold on a second, why would I scratch my own face out? It’s easy really: I’m not the same person I was a few years ago. Hell, I’m not the same person I was two months ago. In that light, the scratched out face represents the old me. The me who dealt with my pain in very unhealthy ways (of which I will not go into detail here). The old me who was judgmental of others. The old me who hated the mere concept of neurodiversity and got so angry with my fellow autism spectrumites who said “I don’t want a cure.” The old me who thought I was sick, broken, and a freak of nature. The old me who thought I was doomed for failure from the day I was born.

In short: the picture represents the me I don’t ever want to revert back to.

I’ll keep that picture as a reminder of where I’ve been and where I don’t want to return. The picture stays there on my desk (or, in this case, in my dermis) reminding me not to look into the past, but to the future instead.

Moving forward is not about forgetting my past. It’s about processing it and moving on from it. It’s about becoming the truly best version of me I can be. Placement wise, it’s almost in direct line with my semicolon – my very first tattoo as a symbol that I’m still here. Whether or not that was a conscious thing for Jade when she stenciled it on I don’t know, but to me it ties that in. After all, my first tattoo is what set all this in motion anyway – launching this blog, which led to me crossing paths with so many of you, and for Laina and I to eventually meet in person. My ink journey started my transformation, but that was only the beginning. My trip to San Antonio at the end of March was a bigger step – being in the presence of the person I now believe is my “twin soul” who helped me realize my own worth as I am.

I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Nothing worth it is easy after all, now is it? Alas, this is the start of better things ahead.

And that, my friends, is the story behind the scratched out face.

Next Tattoo Preview

You know I can’t go more than a few months without a new tattoo, and it’s been two months since my last one thus the time is getting near again.

For this one I wanted something like a tabletop scene to “complete” what I just completed on my left arm. What would I normally be doing while writing? Probably smoking a cigar and sipping some wine right? Hence the concept for my next tattoo was born, which I pitched to Jade and she loved, so here’s what she came up with:

Appointment set for Saturday May 4th so stay tuned; as always my lovely followers are among the first who will see it!

Ink As Therapy

Right on schedule, the Saniderm was ready to come off of my new tattoo and it has now entered the peeling phase, which will last about another week or so. From there I’ll have a finished tattoo that’s ready to show off.

Alas, as any ink enthusiast, ideas have already been swirling in my head for my next one and I think I have a rough concept of what I’ll be getting next. I’ll need to play around with certain design elements but as a matter of “balance” I’ll likely choose placement on the other side in the same spot (since I am all about balance and symmetry – it’s the mathematician/engineer in me). The only one I’ve not yet balanced out is my rib panel but I’m in absolutely no hurry to have my other ribs tattooed – that was a pain unlike anything I’d ever felt before.

Anyway, I digress. Obviously I’ve done the whole gamut for “therapy” – some of it forced upon me by those who also forced existence upon me, some of it voluntarily. I’ve done the whole counseling, behavioral modification and even antidepressant/antipsychotic medications. Nothing ever worked. Nothing was able to quiet my tortured mind. I guess that’s a challenging element of autism – it seems a lot of traditional treatment methods don’t work on us. Maybe this further signifies that autism should not be classified as an illness or disorder? That’s something to chew on for a later time.

Back to the topic at hand. Ink as therapy. Tattoo enthusiasts throw around the term “ink therapy” all the time. Alas, as weird as it sounds, there might be some truth to that statement. As I’ve eluded to it in previous posts, but for me, being in the hot seat is when I’m most at peace. For me, when Jade is working her magic on my human canvas is the only time my mind is ever “quiet” as it were. All the rest of the time it’s racing, typical of those in my tribe. I even have trouble sleeping due to it. Sleep? Hah, what the fuck is that?

With as much negative stigma as there still is around tattoos, the benefits I’ve reaped from my favorite hobby have been incredible. I feel like my overall pain tolerance has improved (day-to-day bumps and scrapes aren’t as bothersome to me as they used to be) and maybe I’ve even gotten an immune boost because I don’t get sick like I used to. There are studies suggesting such too.

In that light, ink has been the one thing that has been able to do what counseling, drugs, etc. were all unable to do. It centers me. It’s meditative. It makes me feel “good.” Shit, as they seem to be the only form of “treatment” that works for me it seems to me my health insurance should fucking pay for my ink. It’s better “medicine” than any of the poison that criminal enterprise known as Big Pharma peddles as such.

I’ve found something that works for me, so at the very least that should be respected and tolerated. Whether or not you even like my tattoos is of no never mind to me (art is subjective after all – a masterpiece to person A could be butt-ugly to person B) as I’ve now transcended past tattoos solely for meaning to the point of just getting them because they look cool and feel good. Call that hedonistic as it were, I admit it is. I’m not hurting myself or anyone else in the process so I fail to see where that’s a problem.

Stay cool and ink it up!

In Violent Times…

…just get a sick new tat!!!

What do you think? Of course I’ll get a better pic when it’s healed and out of the Saniderm but there you go.

What do you think? Have you ever gotten a song lyric tattooed on you?

Edit to show an artist’s pic, before the Saniderm was applied. She was good – she even got a tiny bit of my fabulous meggings in the pic:

My Pre-Ink Routine

So with my appointment coming up in about 5 hours, I’ve begun my pre-ink routine to get me into the tattoo mind frame. As much as it’s old hat to me by this point, there’s still some level of nerve involved for what’s about to come. Ink enthusiasts will tell you that never really goes away, no matter how many tattoos you get.

Of course, being on the autism spectrum and liking “order” as it were, I have my routine down pat to get me into that mind set and get me on my game to endure the pain and resulting adrenaline/endorphin rush of the tattoo process. It’s calming and reassuring, as is every set routine we autists have (whether we’re inked or not) as deviating from order and structure is unduly stressful to us.

So my pre-ink routine starts with the morning of the session, with some meditation to center my thoughts and usually over a cigar and coffee. This routine starts to prep me for what’s to come mentally, while I recite affirmations to myself. “You will overcome the pain and you will have a beautiful piece of art” or something similar.

Then a couple of hours before the session I’ll eat a fairly sizable meal from a favorite restaurant. This gives me the fuel I need to endure the session, but enough time to start digesting so I’m not feeling lethargic or weighed down by the time I get to the hot seat. Comfort food, for me usually in the form of a nice meal from my hometown’s top 100 Chinese restaurant (yet, whoever thought podunk Abilene, TX would be home to one of the top 100 chinese restaurants in the US?).

While I’m processing my meal I usually stop for another cigar, which I smoke while rocking out to my jams. Music motivates me, and especially music I emotionally connect to. Admittedly that usually means my TFF with some others mixed in. By this point I’m in a state of “alert relaxation” and am ready for the process to begin.

After the first couple of lines have been completed the nerves have worn off and I’m usually settled into my zone to carry me through the session. I’ve now entered that state of pure meditation where I feel most at peace. As odd as it sounds, when I’m in the hot seat is when I’m most at peace, at any given time during my life.

So that’s it. That’s my pre-ink routine. I’m not saying this works for everyone, but it really works for me. Maybe even neurotypicals have a similar routine? Maybe some autists also have something similar? Let me know!

New Ink Preview

Well after going back and forth for awhile we’ve got the design for my next tattoo nailed down and I think it’s a real winner:

If all goes well this should be going down next Saturday (2/2). Stay tuned to see it go from paper to skin; I’m sure you all will be anxious to see it.