Hi Everyone out there :~)
I was randomly wondering if you have a tattoo, and what’s its story? I have two: one on my right foot from 1997, and one on my left arm when I turned 40 in France in 2006.
I had a vision or daydream about the foot image; went by myself into the scary tattoo shop in broad daylight, and bravely asked the huge bearded guy behind the counter if he would ink me.
“No tatts below wrist or ankle, it’s the law. Go away and work out where else you want it, then come back.”
I cycled home, disappointed and thoughtful. Spent the weekend trying to imagine where else I wanted it… but could only come up with my right foot.
So Monday afternoon, I walked back in.
“It has to be on my foot, there’s nowhere else.”
“Fine then, take a seat, let’s do it.”
Test passed. And the image was to remind me to walk without fear– or rather, to take steps even if I felt fearful. Getting it done KILLED ME, as the needle plunged in and out over my sensitive bones. Didn’t wear shoes for a month while it healed, and slowly got used to my new visual footfall.
It’s old now, with blurred edges and faded colours- a bit like me. In fact, the green ink came out almost straight away as a big scab, rejected by my body. Sometimes I think about getting it covered over (a cute Mini Cooper with wings, or a dark horse perhaps), but then I feel nostalgic for all the epic journeys we’ve taken together, my tattoo and I, so I leave it be.
I do like being reminded to ‘walk without fear’ too. Life is too short and too precious to stagnate for long.
So I’ve walked myself into Al-Anon meetings lately, for a number of reasons. As this pandemic locks so many people inside, causing mental health to plummet, I’m super grateful that I’m resilient, and have an awesome veggie garden.
I also don’t drink or take drugs.
But lots of people do, some less successfully than others. I come from a long line of drinkers, on all sides of the family, with the melancholy Welsh streak perhaps playing its part?
I’ve never really drunk myself; I don’t abstain deliberately like an alcoholic in recovery must (hand me a glass of Moet or Veuve for a special occasion yes), but I have no need for a nightly glass of wine, or ‘Dutch courage’ to get me on the dance floor. I’ve watched loved ones (both familial and romantic) struggle with the ‘demon drink’, and I’ve lost relatives to its poisonous ways.
In Al-Anon, sitting as a silent witness to heartbreaking stories of long struggles both upsets yet calms me. I feel grateful that we are all there together; that we support each other; that there is safety in numbers and understanding. No one gives advice or tips. We just listen, reflect, and learn. Last week, someone offered the title of this post:
“Courage is Fear that’s said its prayers.”
I thought immediately of my little foot tattoo all those years ago. It took courage for me to hold to my vision of where I wanted it; to sit through the pain of the process; to try over and over to then ‘walk without fear’ as I’d vowed.
I say my prayers now when I meditate, or thrash on the dance floor. I say them when I write affirmations in my journal, or sometimes under my breath when I’m walking. Each repetition grounds me, like a footfall onto earth.
Here I am. Here I step. Here I bring my fear, my grief, my shame.
And here I walk: feeling the fear but doing it anyway.
May we all find the courage of saying a prayer for our fears, to help heal ourselves and each other.
In gratitude for the powers of transformation and support, GxO