A post in a support group I help run got me thinking tonight. It’s probably not the best time for me to be thinking about things too much but sometimes you read, hear or take part in something that triggers you a certain way.
I’d like to talk about my tattoos.
I’m pretty well covered in ink. Full sleeves, back work, leg pieces. It’s fair to say that they help people form opinions about me just by the way I physically look. And that’s fine, people will always judge you no matter what.
I don’t particularly care how people judge me on the way I look, I’d much rather they change their opinion once they get to know me. The tattoos, shaved sides of head, wallet chain, jeans and tshirt kind of make me look like a biker or some kind of punk. But the tattoos act as something that most people won’t realise:
My tattoos are a disguise.
I’m not a confident person, I never have been. I was bullied as a kid because I was geeky, weedy and had a gap in my teeth (I still do). I still think that after spending all these years inhabiting my skin I look weird. My arms are scrawny, my belly looks bloated, I still have that damn gap in my teeth even after several years wearing braces in my teens.
The tattoos help me compensate for the way I appear. They distract people from what I see as my physical flaws. They provide people with a view of stereotype and of confidence.
The tattoos make me look like someone I’m not. It gives me something to hide behind. They are an aspect of my appearance I’ve been able to control and change. With the tattoos in place I’ve been able to almost create a version of me that helps me get through things. They let me project aspects of me that I can hang a character on to. And I’m so thankful that works, the version of me I’m inside needs something like that to wear, a skin I can live in.
I’m lucky, my pain threshold for being tattooed is fairly high. I find it quite relaxing and therapeutic. I nearly fell asleep having the work done on my back, the warm feeling of the ink being pushed into my skin, the continual hum and buzz of the tattoo machine singing it’s hypnotic lullaby. There’s something good about the endorphin release after being tattooed. I feel good about myself, I’ve changed something about myself for myself.
Yes, the images form a story. I could tell you why I have a tattoo and what it means to me. I wouldn’t change them, they’re all there for a reason. There’s plans for more, more stories to be told in ink on my skin. I’m not ready to give up my disguise, I’ll keep adding to it. I’ll happily let people’s preconceptions of me be wrong. The only person I need to keep happy in that respect is me.
The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Brilliant Disguise” by Bruce Springsteen. You can find a video of it on YouTube here Bruce Springsteen – “Brilliant Disguise”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.