tattooing homework, part one the past
February 16, 2013
I have some homework that the artist who’ll be doing my trad style/type/inspired Filipin@ tattoo.
This tattoo is going to represent a lot and. Well, it’ll start, like most things at the beginning.
When I think of how I came to this place. This place where I’m seeking a visible, permanent marker for my coming of age as a bakla transpinay. This place where I begin to feel happy, confident, and loving towards myself and my body.
Two things stand out the most. Or, rather, two words that fairly neatly define how I got here: survival and healing. In many ways these have been the themes of my life up until now. Almost especially the survival. And more recently, healing.
In many ways, growing up in a neglectful and abusive home means surviving. Surviving until you can get out of the situation and begin healing (which covers later).
But. Especially with the neglect. I grew up mostly feeling unloved. I had no friends. I mostly remember feeling unloved. And I have so many memories of my family. Some are good. A lot are bad. Yet, they play such a prominent role. I was bullied a lot by my cousins (especially the kuyas and ates). I remember crying a lot. I also remember the fairly unwavering support when I started wearing skirts and makeup as a teen.
Anyway, my family as a kid was usually a source of pain, but also a great comfort to me.
And I survived.
Survived getting kicked out at 17 and finishing high school while paying rent and trying to learn how to be an adult. Survived my forays into dating without any clue what I was doing (heck, this applies to all my adult socializing). Survived having a undiagnosed learning disorder that impacted pretty much every part of my life. Survived having a mental breakdown in my second year of university because of finally having the learning disorder catch up with me. Survived my apartment burning down and being homeless for a short period of time. Survived moving to Vancouver to be with someone and getting my heart broken. Survived being so broke I almost did sex work to pay rent and get out of debt. Survived being in a 10 year long abusive relationship that systematically destroyed my sense of self and forced me to internalize a lot of oppressive stuff. Survived having my dreams crushed. Survived having my dreams materialize (only to realize that they were nightmares). Survived trying to have a relationship with both of my parents for over six years to realize that, no, they don’t actually love me and, if they do at all, their love is abuse and toxic. Survived have years where I simply felt that all I was doing was waiting to die and thinking, almost constantly, of hurting myself. Survived getting mugged and violently attacked enough for me to require surgery and be permanently (if slightly) disabled. Survived being sexually harassed as a transpinay in a world that didn’t prepare me for sexism and transmisogyny.
I survived. More importantly, I survived and I have no regrets. I can look at myself in the mirror. I respect myself and all the decisions I’ve made. I may not quite be in a place where I can love myself, but I have my dignity and my self worth.
More important than survival, has been my almost constant focus on healing. Healing from the past. Healing from all the hurts that surviving gave to me.
Because through almost all of the above, I remained focused and dedicated to growing, changing, and becoming more than I was. This journey, specifically had many up and many downs.
But I’ve accomplished so many of my goals:
- I can now actually have healthy non-abusive romantic relationships
- I’ve quit smoking
- I’ve almost learned to be angry again.
- I rarely think about harming myself
- I’m reaching a place where I can be confident enough to embody my gender
- I know so much more about the world and, instead of pulling away or withdrawing, have come to love it and open myself up to it.
- I’m starting to really, really explore and learn about my heritage and my culture.
- I finally feel worthy of loving
- I finally can actually let people love me.
- I can actually see a point in the not-too-distant future where I’ll finally be able to
And this. more than anything right now. Is what makes me feel powerful and amazing.
It gives me the strength to give my love and support to my communities.
It gives me the strength to want a visible marker of my relationship to my communities, to my femininity, to my culture and heritage, to my family, and to myself.