Earlier this week, Love What Matters — a blog which aims “to celebrate the moments in life that matter” — shared a touching story of triumph and healing on their Facebook page, a piece which quickly went viral. It was a story shared by a mom named Cece; a story about what she calls life “after.” That is, life hospitalization; life after a suicide attempt. And while that, in and of itself, is a story worth telling, Cece’s story didn’t end there, because the mom of four wanted to get a tattoo over her self-inflicted scars to celebrate her successes. To take back her body, and to finally close the door on that painful chapter of her life.
“Today, I went into a tattoo parlor for my tattoo I’ve been wanting forever to cover up scars from hurting myself as a teenager,” shared CeCe. “A compass, but instead of North-South, I have my kids initials.”
However, while the idea behind Cece’s tattoo was beautiful and (without a doubt) empowering her decision to walk in the doors of this tattoo parlor, choosing this particular day — and this particular time — to do so proved to be just as important:
“The tattoo artist opened her shop,” continued CeCe. “[A]fter a moment, she grew silent before blurting out, ‘You know, you remind me of someone I used to know.'”
To which Cece asked, “’Where did you know her from?”
“From a hospital,” the tattoo artist told her.
And immediately, Cece knew:
“I felt a tingle down my spine … the one that tells you something big is about to happen. ‘What hospital?’ I asked.”
“She named the one that takes suicidal teens. My mouth dropped open. ‘I was there too.'”
The two screamed and embraced. Or, in Cece’s words, she “grabbed me in the biggest bear hug ever.” Through all the years and scars and space between them, they were here in this room together.
They were healing together.
To this, I can relate; not to a similarly fateful meeting, but to Cece’s story of self-harm. Because I too have a history with it. I began dragging straight pins and safety pins across my arms when I was just 15-years-old. I took steak knives to my calves and crafting scissors to my ankles.
Make no mistake: I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to feel. I was desperate to feel something — anything — which would remind me I was alive. And pain was something. The burning sensation which snaked across my skin was that feeling I was searching for. Because, at 15, I was in the grips of my very first depressive episode. I had lost the will to eat and wake up. I was quickly losing the will to live, so I found solace the only way I could: in cutting and carving.
I cut, in secret, for several years.
And then I got helped. I healed, and I too turned to tattoos and piercings. Like Cece, I found comfort and growth in my modifications, and I triumphed. I found beauty in my scars. Hope covered my ugly and shameful Scarlet letters. Or, as Cece so eloquently put it, “I look at it now … [m]y arm, a place that once represented hopelessness now represents love … [m]ore beauty from ashes than I could have ever dreamed.”More On