Tattoo Stories

December 6, 2013

My life has been an interesting trip so far.

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My life has been an interesting trip so far. I don’t always like to talk about myself very openly because I see the heart of my life as sacred – My children, my family, my closest friends, my relationships are the heart of me and I often keep them close and private because it’s in my nature to protect the things I love. I think that is why it’s especially important I open up about this. Because you never REALLY know anyone that keeps things on the surface to most people, you know what they choose to show you. This story is about all of me, the me that is ugly, the me that is kind, the me that isn’t perfect but also about a constant in my life that has never wavered – hope.

I know I probably sound like a bad hallmark movie already but hope has been my constant and almost a magical constant because I’m not entirely sure why I have it? But had hope and faith and the people I love and cherish not been in my life I believe I would not be here today to tell you my story.

I was born to a mother and father that married for me, to give me a good life but honestly they were not a couple that should have lasted, and therefore didn’t. If two opposites in the world existed it was the two people that brought me into this world. My mother raised me until I was 13 along with my sister and my stepfather. Out of respect for my sister and my mother I will tell you that there was abuse in my family and that my mother was at odds with her own depression and loneliness. She was most likely Bi-polar and it was believed later in life that she may have developed multiple personalities as she felt she heard voices and saw visions that I never really worried about until they became self-destructive. I grew up one of two caretakers of my mother and learned at an early age that my emotions were triggers to my mother and her fragile emotions. So emotions=bad. My mother was a kind and genuine soul who sought out her whole life for a soul mate, someone she could share life’s burdens with. I’d like to tell you that she found the happy ending, the knight in shining armor to come into her life and help her find her way but she died before found it. She was a kind, sweet heart that wandered life lonely except for my sister and I and a few choice friends. To this day I carry with me a certain level of sadness for her, because I know that she deserved to have the moon handed to her on a platter. She died alone, in a bathtub with no one nearby because her mind had slipped into a deep sadness and her illness isolated her from those she loved. I received a phone call from the police that she had died of a heart attack weeks before they called me, my phone number was on a piece of paper in her purse.

My childhood was wrought with instability, times of hardship and a thick layer of emotion that I could always feel in my home – thick layer of things unspoken. So consequently I was a very angry and pent-up young lady. My mother was a loving person and I do remember MANY beautiful and peaceful and amazing memories of my young life. My step-dad deserves no page in this chapter, he was a boil on the face of my mother’s mental instability and although there are many men in my life I look up to, love and respect he will never be one of them. As a result of never being taught how to talk about anything I kept myself angry, emotionally ashamed and angry. I also knew that there was something different about me, something that I couldn’t face or even consider in the tornado of a mind I had…I knew that the only people that made my palms sweaty and my heart skip a beat were not of the male gender. I sought out unhealthy relationships & abusive habits. I projected mistrust and pushed everyone away from me that might have been a good influence on me. I married young, had my kids young, faced abusive relationships, learned to cover up physical and emotional bruises. I lived the same life my mother lived but just a little more out loud. I was angry and alone and never looked at myself and saw strength. I eventually ended up being on depression medication and accepted that I was just a victim to my life and life pretty much sucked. My family was broken apart, my heart was torn into pieces and I generally felt like a shell of a human for many many dark years. There are many details in my life I have not mentioned here because I’m still very private about what I share of my life… I promise you, it was no episode of Dawson’s Fucking Creek. Haha!

But one day I found myself in a crappy one bedroom, 500 square ft., apartment with my youngest son in the bedroom and me sleeping on a lumpy futon with crappy credit and a dead end job and decided I was fed the fuck up. I wanted more, I knew I was more and that my position in life was never set in stone and that even if I didn’t think I was strong enough to get out of that shit I better fake strong until I feel strong again until I show myself and my children that I am absolutely the same bright young lady I used to be. I read books on self-help, a habit I learned from my father when I came to live with him at age 13. I read books on anything and everything that might help me find my way. Read poetry of strong women who struggled with their faith and overcame it. I started to learn about myself, my life and why I was the way I was. To not blow off the things that I held deep inside and to face the things that hurt and still know my own divinity. I remember the day I read “Still I rise” by Maya Angelou…I cried like a baby. Because it was the first time I saw that someone got it…got the struggle of the things life gives us and stood up tall, faced her demons and said – “Give me all you got world, I can take it and then some, cuz I’m Maya freakin’ Angelou!”

From that day forward I always heard her words when my heart would hurt, my efforts didn’t work the first, second or third times and my struggle to pay the bills, feed my family or my struggle to reconnect with the people I had pushed away and with the demons in my own head. The ones that told me never to feel, never to trust, never to love too much and not let anyone in. I heard the words – “Just like moons and like suns ,With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.” It reminded me that there is always hope, that in the worst of times it ALWAYS can be worse. I’ve carried that throughout my life ever since, the hope that even when I’m SO DAMN MAD or SO DAMN HURT I always have something to be thankful for. This attitude has been something that people tease me about, how I’m so Pollyanna and one of my very favorite friends told me once they call me Boprah…because My nick name from Derby is “Bo” (full name Lil’ Bo Peepshow) but I have an attitude like I’m Oprah. I consider that one of the best compliments of my life. I can stand tall today and tell you I do not rely on depression medication and my family is whole again and I love who I am and I love my life. Nothing can compare to that joy.

I will never say my journey was alone and I’m some kind of saint, I have been blessed with incredible and beautiful friends and family that have helped me along my path but I feel like I’m constantly striving to give and love and be all I can. I haven’t always been nice, I haven’t always said the right things or done the right things but I’m in love with life now and the path that I am on. Because once you have looked at the face of hell the rest of life is a piece of cake! I am a work in progress and always will be.

My tattoo on my leg is a Phoenix, a mythical bird and a fire spirit. It has a 500 to 1000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites. Both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises, reborn anew to live again. I want to always remember that no matter what life gives me I am capable of weathering that storm and even if I am reduced to ashes I can be reborn anew.

My paw tattoo on my chest is a funny inside joke that actually has a “sister tattoo” on my first girlfriend. This tattoo reminds me of two things – 1. Young love is dumb but it made me who I am. 2. Make good decisions; they could end up with you FOREVER. Haha! But luckily it’s not too embarrassing.

My shoulder tattoo is a Celtic knot. The knot represents the infinite path – there is seemingly no beginning or end to the knot. It shows us that the concept of a new beginning or end is fluid and interconnected. I want to always remember that the end of one cycle only means that the new cycle will soon begin and that I should applaud the journey because it is the path I’m supposed to be on.

The path of my life can be looked at, good or bad or indifferently…it’s all kind of pointless to label because everything I am, everything I am not…it is a conglomeration of all of my experiences, all of my relationships and all of my mistakes, triumphs and gifts given to me by those who I have met along the way. And I wouldn’t take back any of it, because I love me and the life I have and I’m so damn grateful for it. And I know that if I were to lose it all today, come hell or high water, tomorrow…I will rise.

Angie M.Vandine

One thought on “My life has been an interesting trip so far.

  1. I love reading your writing. (Not to be confused with your handwriting, ha! You are very well spoken and I’m so happy you’re happy, Angie!

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