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A Diary of Tattoo Psychology and Saying Goodbye

July 19, 2011

I’ve had this in draft for over a month now – time to go, self-involved psychobabble: be free! (Bear with my essay-writing here – there is a bittersweet ending…. and hey, I stopped freaking out too!)

This is difficult to write. I am starting this 10 days (9 May 2011) after getting tattooed, and I intend for it to be an account documenting my relationship with, and changing reaction to, a specific tattoo of mine. I aim to keep it in draft and add to it as and when my thoughts crystallize towards the tattoo on my arm.  I’ll post it  in its entirety when I feel I have reached some kind of conclusion. It is now 12 June – a month later, and I’m sure I have that. In fact, I love my tattoo now. But why write this?

  • Partly because, due to having a very strange relationship with tattoos on myself, I’ll probably feel this way again in the future (I can’t imagine not getting any more tattoos), and I need to look back on my own thoughts for reassurance the next time I do this to myself.
  • Partly because I know that there are other people that must go through the same process of shock and desperation while they’re getting to used to/regretting a tattoo.
  • I don’t really have ‘body issues’. I’m not being conceited here, but aside from hating my own butt, like many women do, and sometimes feeling like my face is too birdy and my eyes are a bit big, I just don’t. I won’t apologise for that. So now that I have/had a ‘body issue’ (albeit entirely self-inflicted and somewhat, er, relatively without perspective), it’s quite a novel emotion.
  • To reinforce that it’s not just drunken or trashy morons with crap taste in tribal or cartoon characters that consider getting a tattoo removed or partially removed. People like me, who already have other [good] tattoos and wait/travel for custom work from a respected artist, also have mad freak-outs.
  • How many people do you personally know who’ve admitted and documented doubts about their tattoo? You only read accounts of tattoo removal after lasering has started. I think there’s a certain amount of bravado around tattoo collectors (by this, I mean people that get work by prestigious tattooists). So much so that few people admit that they don’t like the background to their sleeve… they didn’t research what something was really meant to look like in great enough depth so it’s not quite true to reality… or that getting something at a convention was really rushed and the dude really should have redrawn that. Or even that it took them a month to stop regretting a massive new piece. Nobody likes to admit that they made a mistake, or point out their own imperfections.

I love tattoos.  My husband is fairly heavily tattooed (sleeve, back, calves, shin), and so are my friends. I love women with tattoos – Theo Kogan, Beatrix Von Bourbon, Sabina Kelley are all just about the hottest ladies on the planet to my mind.  If you follow awesome vintage beauties The Freelancer’s Fashion Blog and The Mysterious Life of the Metropolitan ex-Housewife, or the ever inspiring punkrock food blogger Bake & Destroy, you’ll know that not only are they incredibly stylish and accomplished women, they are tattooed. On their arms. Which looks amazing. (Not to diminish any of these ladies’ intellectual, professional or social achievements here, but I’m an aesthete, and you might have noticed that this blog’s  getting rather full of stuff I like looking at, rather than stuff I actually do or think. And this here is a reaction to what I’ve changed about my own appearance. Whether or not you think that’s vain is immaterial to me, this is about MY brain and body together.)

And so it follows that as I adore tattoos, and I don’t work in a job where it’d seem to be a problem, it was about time to get visible tattoos. What’s the point of having pretty pictures on you if nobody else can see them? I’m on my third tattoo – but my first one that can be seen with short sleeves.

(PEELING STILL  = ew.) I do think this tattoo is beautiful, it’s very meaningful to me, and I know many people would covet it, especially given the artist, but… it’s fucking massive. And it’s really dark. And, essentially, it’s not exactly what I wanted (some elements are different), and that seems the hardest factor for me to get over. I’ve mainly been really mad at myself, and people keep telling me that I’m being too hard on myself. It’s a novelty for me – I don’t generally do stuff that I know to be wrong, or dumb (does anyone really sit and think “yeah, this is really stupid. I’ll do it”?), so when I do (or think I have, until I’ve seen the light), I have no idea how to handle my feelings toward myself. (See also:  moving to Sheffield.)

When I booked this, I stressed that it could be no bigger than 6″ x 3.5″. It was intended to fit under an elongated short sleeve (yeah, pardon? Like this). It doesn’t. It comes to my elbow. This is my horse Danny (Sixpenny King) and he was meant to be wearing his crown, and have six pennies attached to his bridle. Obviously, he isn’t and doesn’t. When I was first shown it, it was 15% bigger, so would have come down past my elbow. Reducing the scale proved quite easy, but that was the limit – and then I had to try my transfer on. I tried asking for the ribbons to be removed but I just let myself get steamrollered into agreeing to the size of it, possibly because I had travelled 600 miles for it and waited months for my appointment. For several nights (possibly weeks, actually), I’d been worrying about how big it was going to get drawn up, and kept telling myself, “if it’s too big, I’ll just make him do it on my ribs”. Man, I did not stick to that, and I didn’t stand my ground in the slightest. This is quite unlike me.

My initial reaction

For the first three days (mainly when it was wrapped in clingfilm over the Bank Holiday Monday), I wasn’t bothered about my tattoo. I thought it quite novel and rather cool, but mainly I just wanted the bastard to stop hurting and I hated having to sleep in clingfilm.

Then, by the time I went back to work on the Tuesday, I was convinced that it was the ugliest thing that I’d ever seen and:

  • Why have I done this to my arm?
  • Why have I got any tattoos at all? Do I even like tattoos? Don’t get any more, you moron! Better rethink the feet plan. Certainly can’t get the blackened machines I was thinking of…
  • Why have I ruined my arm? It was very slender and fair before and now I have this massive dark tattoo on it, and look at all those women in Vogue or Lula that don’t have tattoos. Look at their pristine arms. I miss my flawless arm! I’ll never be able to wear sleeveless shirts again.
  • How am I going to hide this from my parents for the rest of my life?
  • Nobody I admire in the public eye has such a thing.
  • And it’s not what I wanted!
  • And horse tattoos are camp! I might as well have got a rainbow glittery unicorn: it’s that camp.
  • What will I look like at age 50?
  • People are judging me. I’ll never wear a sleeveless dress at work again.
  • What do I do if my sister gets married and I have to wear a longsleeve dress at a summer wedding?

In week one

I continued to panic at work, being really depressed and withdrawn. I obsessed over different removal methods. I researched and researched, trying to find before and after photos for various methods. I got depressed every time I thought about how long it’ll take me to remove my tattoo, and whether I’ll scar (the pain doesn’t really bother me, isn’t that odd?). Would I prefer having a scar than a tattoo? I frantically searched for pretty tops and dresses that would be cool in the summer and yet cover my tattoo. They do exist, yes!

I found myself wishing, as I very rarely do, that there was such thing as a time machine, and if I’d just done this differently then everything would be bearable. I recounted all the nightmares I’ve had about having huge tattoos in inappropriate places and then trying to get them lasered off within a few hours. (Apparently, in my bad dreams, if you get it while it’s fresh it’s like it never happened. Bullshit, obviously). I was worried about how similar my feelings were to those I had in nightmares, and thought that I might still be asleep. But no, it was real, and I lived in a waking nightmare about being stuck with something that I felt was ill-thought out, ugly and silly. And worse, unfeminine. I thought about the money I’d spent on my tattoo and the trip to get it. Then I thought about the money it’d cost to remove it, and what a frivolous expenditure when we’ve saved for a house deposit for so long. And I cried a lot, because I had done something stupid and now I was going to pay (indeed, financially) for it. And the reason we moved to Sheffield was so that we could afford a much better standard of living, so what’s  the point of leaving London (and the job opportunities) to buy a house up here if I’m just going to piss money up the wall doing dumb shit to myself and then getting it removed?

I also thought a lot about getting my whole tattoo removed, or at least faded a great deal, so that I could get something more colourful there. I decided that having a tattoo on my arm wasn’t the issue, but that it was too long and too dark. I figured maybe I’d have the ‘peeking parts’ removed – ribbons and crown, and then brighten up the upper part  with pastel old-school 5-line stars around his head.

On the Friday afternoon, I tried to visit a micro-pigmentation salon that works with Rejuvi – hoping to find out more about its results. Rejuvi is a cream that is tattooed in and then activates your body’s immune system, attaching to the ink and causing your body to force the whole foreign body out in a big scab. I’ve read that the aftercare is quite intense – not getting it wet for a few weeks, then thoroughly protecting the scab – and many people admit that they don’t follow the wound aftercare and pick at it, etc.  It does leave a red scar that fades after 6-12 months, but again, many people appear to be really impatient and are complaining that they’re scarred a month after having it. Well, duh, wait a bit! I’d love to hear from those people who complained initially whether their scar has indeed faded or disappeared altogether after that time.

Having phoned first, with no answer or voicemail, we walked to this micropigmentation shop near our house, and found it to be closed. Whether it’s permanently closed, I don’t know. Its website is still operational. Perhaps they’re on holiday?

In that week I also booked an appointment for the following Monday with sk:n clinics, to have a consultation about laser removal. Hasty, me?

On the Friday evening, we went out in Sheffield to a couple of bars, the Great Gatsby and Old No. 7. I wore a cap-sleeved sixties dress that exposed my tattoo and didn’t feel bad about it. I felt really glad that I hadn’t done it on the outside of my arm though. Over that weekend, I agreed to myself (and Matt, although he’d never ask such a thing of me) that I would live with my tattoo until at least the end of June.

I also quite definitely decided that I would never want my whole tattoo removed, but that if it was just a bit smaller I’d be really happy. So I figured finding out whether it’s possible to remove the crown and ribbons would be a good idea, as would finding out whether I had problem colours (yellow and blue) or skin, and how much time and money it’d take.

Week 2 and my sk:n clinic consultation

On the Monday evening (9 days after getting my tattoo), I went for my consultation at the sk:n clinic on Psalter Lane, five minutes from my house. I filled out a form about my health conditions before seeing the therapist. Of course, I brought the boy along too for moral support.

The lady therapist that I saw was really professional, knowledgeable and, importantly, non-judgmental. I heard myself explaining that I did actually like my tattoo a lot and I wasn’t sure that I wanted even part of it removed, but that I felt it was just 2″ too long and I know this is hasty but how much would it cost to have this part removed.  Oh really? Did I say those things? Yes, yes I did. And I feel that I meant them too.

She told me how much it would cost per session to remove that aspect – £85 per session, since it’s a minor area of about 2″ square.  Then she advised that the longer you leave it between laser treatments (she recommended 8-12 weeks), the more effective it is, since it maximises the time that your body takes to do its own work in carrying away the shattered ink fragments. I didn’t know this. Having researched other blogs about tattoo removal (surprisingly thin on the ground), people were leaving 4 weeks between treatments, anxious to get the tattoo out as soon as possible. But it turns out that’s not really the best way at all – it costs more and it’s ineffective because it doesn’t give your body enough time to do its own cleaning work.

But the therapist also told me that they’d have no idea how long it’d take to remove my crown and ribbons, or whether the pigments would mutate (white in particular can turn black, yellow is difficult to remove).  I was also told that even knowing what inks a tattooer used doesn’t help – you can only see how each colour will react once you have a patch test. She said sometimes you can see a huge difference after 3 sessions, or that you could wait two months after a treatment for the ink to be dispersed by your immune system but it doesn’t look like it’s had an effect, yet another month later (still without treatment) the body has suddenly made a big step in removing the ink itself.

Pleasingly, because I said I wasn’t 100% sure about having it removed, she encouraged me to live with my ink for a significant period. After all, laser treatment will always be there. My tattoo will be there as long as I want it, until (and if) I decide to get rid of it. To me, this is really telling – sk:n clinics aren’t eager to push you into treatments unless you really want them. There’s no sales pitch, and they aren’t pushy. The lady just gave me all the information she could, and was honest when she couldn’t answer (ie, number of treatments it’d take). She also advised that because I wasn’t sure about removal, that they could do a really small test patch, rather than starting to break down the whole area. That’s so good to know.

In week three:

After going to see the laser people, almost all desire disappeared to remove any part of my tattoo.  Why? Because, I suppose, I finally felt like it was there out of choice. Choice because I know that I can remove it, should I want to… I’m not stuck with it. Financially, I may be, but psychologically, not so much. We continued to go out, see our lovely neighbours, go see a few bands in Sheffield and Leeds, and I continue to feel not just ok about it, but pretty cool. Yeah, I feel ‘cool’. I am that vain. I like my horse tattoo. It took me a while, huh?

I think I also realised that I’m not going to change that much between now and ‘when I am old’.  As a 17-year-old, I thought I would be ‘old’ at 28, and that I might be a different person. I am not (although I am arguably less of a prat). These things that I have accrued – husband, red hair, fat ass, career direction, hilarious taste in clothes – are not things that will ever really leave me: we will change and evolve together. And I’m sure that’s how I’ll continue to feel about this tattoo, I will be a funny-looking but cool 50-year-old with amazing kids and rad dogs, like that older lady who sells rockabilly fascinators on Broadway Market.

Week four and beyond:

A month after getting this piece, I found out my horse, Danny, would be put to sleep after a really hard winter, in which he’s just really struggled at life. Summer is also really hard for him, he is really miserable and he’s not put on any weight since last year. He looks poor. He can’t even have his feet trimmed because he cannot stand on three legs for the farrier (if you know anything about horses, you’ll know that this is the beginning of the end). My mum and dad see him every day: my dad’s recently permanently returned from working midweek in Bristol and did question my mum on whether it really was right to have him put out of pain just because he is very old, but since seeing Danny every day, he also thinks it’s time.

We bought Danny when I was 13 and had many a great year winning lots of events, usually at great speed and slightly out of control.  He had a massive attitude towards everything, even just hanging out to graze with his buds in the field he marched everywhere in a strop, was really naughty to lead anywhere (I had to go fetch him in with a bridle instead of a headcollar), once ripped the muscle in my arm and has left with me with a permanent dimple (nerve damage) in my right thigh from when he kicked me to somewhere in the vicinity of kingdom come.  You go ON with your bad self, Daniel-son. He remained with my family until the end of his days because we never wanted to pass him onto people that might not understand and appreciate what a special and badly-behaved git he was. He was the only remaining progeny of Nickel King, and half-brother to Mary King‘s world champions King William and King Boris.

Saying goodbye to him was one of the saddest things I’ve done. I can’t imagine not having him tattooed on my arm now.

So that’s why this psychological journey and its documentation was, for me, a exercise in self-reflection and, ultimately, coming to terms with loss.

I think fundamentally, my problem was never with the design of my tattoo. Did I mention I really love it now? I think I just shocked the crap out of myself by getting something that I can see out of the corner of my eye all the time, and dealing with the concept of tattoo visibility on my own body. It brings a certain degree of self-awareness, and attention from other people, that you just don’t get when tattoos are hidden.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. Dylann permalink
    January 19, 2018 3:37 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s eased a great amount of the anxiety and worry I feel towards the Tattoo I got two weeks ago.

    It is extremley well done and by an artist I waited almost 6 months to see and obsessed over for over two years. I allowed him to work about an inch larger than I anticipated. I beat myself up every hour for not speaking up. Looking at the Tattoo I see why he worked the size he did, because the composition is perfect. If he had gone smaller it would had looked a bit off.

    I go back and forth between loving it and worrying about whether I will like it forever and if my anxious thoughts about It will eat me up forever. I nearly had an anxiety attack the night after I got It and worry about it each night. It is a snake tattoo with the rune eihwaz. It is meant to symbolize the connection between life and death/the underworld transformation/change, protection, and ultimately triumph over fear. So it is crazy to think that I am freaking about my beautiful tattoo with “what if’s”, when it is there to remind me that change does happen in life and I can overcome it. It’s a reminder that I can adapt to any transformation or transition in life and that nothing is perminant. Not even my own body.

    As with your tattoo, I feel in a month at the most I will freaking long every part of my tattoo and question why I even worried about it’s size, placement, and whatever various regrets I have now regarding it. I have worried to the point where I’ve thought if I ever would get it removed, but the more I sit with my anxiety the more I realize it is the crazy mind speaking, not my own voice.

    With the amount of anxiety I’ve been experiencing I’ve realized how powerful the mind is and how much it can jump from one conclusion to the next without any real sense. In reality, in a year from now my tattoo will be the least of my worries. Life will persist and I’ll be ok. With thoughts, whatever you focus on grows. Therefore, the more I focus on how worried I am about my tattoo, the more anxiety I will feel. I’ve been doing breathing exercises, journaling, and talking to myself as if I were a friend or a future self. I reasure myself I can overcome whatever emotion I feel. I do not let it overtake me for long.

    Your post really helps because it shows me that I too can overcome the drastic measures of my own troubled mind. The tattoo is not the problem and I do not have to sit in anxiety about it forever. I have body issues and this can serve as another lesson for me as well to simply accept and live myself the way I am, ecspecially a part of me that I have chosen. That gives me all the more power. So thank you and take care.

  2. Gypsy permalink
    June 21, 2017 11:09 pm

    This article helped me out so much! I’m currently in the regret phase after getting an old tattoo covered. It is beautifully done, but just something that worked as a cover, doesnt have significant meaning. I think that is MY biggest issue. My other tattoos all have meaning and purpose behind them. I can’t wait for the panic attacks, anxiety and chest pains to go away and I can finally enjoy my new art. Cheers!

  3. Taylor permalink
    June 3, 2017 5:42 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve recently had two small tattoos added on my arms. They are my first visible tattoos. I have one on my ribcage and another on my upper thigh. I love tattoos. I always have. I’ve never felt regret and confusion over my tattoos until I recently got the ones on my arms. I don’t understand it. When I got them I loved them. Now I sit around and obsess and regret them everyday. I feel so confused and depressed. And it’s strange because I don’t want them removed. I like tattoos on another people. I just feel like a weirdo that I have them, and the whole world can see them. Some days I feel so proud. And other days I want to hide from the world. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. I really hope this goes away. Anyway, your story brought me peace. I hope I can get to a place where I’m not fretting over mine everyday.

  4. Jonathan permalink
    February 21, 2017 11:51 pm

    Wow, thank you for this honest account, and I’m happy to see that you came around to loving your new tattoo. I’m dealing with a very similar situation right now (inner bicep tattoo ended up larger than I anticipated, and immediately wished I could go back in time and have it done smaller).

    I’m entering week 3 now and I still go back and forth between liking the overall design and hating how far down my arm it goes (I really wish it were an inch farther up my arm). I’m confident, though, that I’ll either learn to love the entire design, or decide to laser off some of the elements of the design that go too far down my arm (similar to what you were considering).

    If you still read these comments, let us know if anything has changed about how you feel over the last few years. The strong response to this post shows me that this is a more common occurrence than I thought.

  5. Rebecca Jones permalink
    August 17, 2016 11:12 pm

    Amazing amazing amazing. Thank you for this. I’m 2 days into mine and everything you say is me! I too driving my partner mad looking at removal etc. I’ve been told by laser place wait four months they won’t do anything until then. I’m pretty sure I will get it removed and I feel like an idiot for doing it and wish could go in time machine like you say, but I’m trying to not be down as it can be removed one day if I wish and stories like yours help me see many people feel this way afterwards. Thank you so so much

  6. Jetto permalink
    March 29, 2016 5:08 am

    Hi! I know this is an old entry but I just REALLY needed to thank you for writing this. I’m going through pretty much what you just described because of a tattoo (I designed myself) I got a month ago. I loved it at first, showed it to everyone and everybody seemed to like it. A couple of weeks ago I discovered the placing was wrong and I’ve been freaking out ever since. I’m pretty poor right now and can’t afford removal, or even going to the artist again and adding some major tweaks I think may make it better. The thing is, your words have really given me hope that getting used to it is possible, and me thinking I’m gonna be depressed like this forever is nonsense. Thanks again and have a great life.

  7. Twig permalink
    November 18, 2015 2:31 pm

    Thank you so much for this. You story is so relatable, and I’m in the exact same position (planning the tattoo for months, travelling for it to a gopd artist, not turning out the exact way I imagined, the financial part, moving cities, buying clothes to cover it, hiding it from my parents…) I’m four days in and I am feeling depressed and anxious every second, nausiated even. I got a big, colorful chest tattoo that reaches higher up to my collarbones than I really wanted it to. I’ve struggeled with meaning and purpose the last two years and the tattoo was, I thought, going to express my identity and make me feel complete. It feels opposite now, and now I just can’t help thinking about how happy I was starting to grow just weeks before the appointment, and now I feel hopeless again. I can’t smile, struggle to get out of bed, tears are welling up as I write this… I just saw a beautiful recent photo of me with a clean chest, my feeling are almost like I killed this beautiful, soon to be successful person, and replaced her with a monster wannabe with no future. I hope I will grow into it eventually, letting it express my identity like I intended it too. The tattoo is a beautiful piece of art, and it is just no option to remove it with today’s laser technology. I will try to remember to let you know how it goes. If it’s not too much to ask, I would love a few supportive words from you as I feel I can’t talk to anyone about this yet. Love, I.

    • Heather permalink
      July 2, 2016 9:13 pm

      I am in the exact same boat with my new chest piece. I would love to know how these past few months have been for you. Could really use a friend.

      • Daniel permalink
        September 5, 2016 6:57 am

        I got a big stomach piece that has me in a state of obsession, panic and depression as bad as any I’ve ever had. It actually feels worse because this time it can’t be fixed. Do you feel any better after a couple months? Thanks.

  8. Sabrina permalink
    November 8, 2015 8:47 am

    Thank you so much for the vulnerability and honesty in this piece. I’m experiencing a little buyer’s remorse over a piece on my forearm… With similar complaints… If only it were an inch or so smaller, and not so dark! I have a large piece on my back that seldom crosses my mind. But now I’ve found it quite jarring to be able to see the tattoo on my forearm. I’ve also had the added tug of my six year old expressing worry about the change on my body. If I’m freaked out, he must really be struggling to see something that is usually a constant for him, suddenly shifting and changing. He asked why I like tattoos so much… I told him that sometimes grownups can get so busy with life that we sometimes forget to stop and remember the things that are important to us. I told him that tattoos can be a diary of sorts, that tell the story of someone’s life. He bought my explanation, for now. I’m grateful to have read your story, to get some much needed perspective on my own tattoo and to not feel so isolated in the insane anxiety and questioning why I “need” to be tattooed.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  9. threadandburied permalink*
    October 7, 2015 3:01 pm

    Hey you guys! Thanks so much for commenting, and I’m glad I could be of help in some way. I’m relieved to see it’s a popular reaction, and one that a lot of people can eventually make peace with – but I’d like to ask you how you all feel now? Have your feelings settled towards your tattoo? Did any of you get lasered? Then get re-tattooed? How do you feel about that?

    In my own case, I totally got over that feeling of ‘first week regret’ after going to the laser place. I do actually really love mine now, and I went even further and got the rest of my arm tattooed on the outside – it comes down past my elbow. I never thought, when I wrote this, that’s how it would go – I never imagined I’d be so totally ‘ah, f*ck it, let’s do even more of this stuff I had a massive freak-out about’, but there you are. I have reconciled with it, and ultimately, I realised that I *am* a tattoo collector, so why not show off that facet of myself. Surely there is a little exhibitionist streak in all of us who choose to get tattooed, so I have fully embraced that. In fact. I will also be getting another half sleeve on my other arm next year. I do also have a pretty large tattoo on my back that I am less than crazy about, and I think maybe that kinda helped me get over the whole perfection issue. I don’t like my back one so much but it’s ok because I can’t see it.

    Of course, there is still a little part of me deep inside that rues the day I ever got even the tiniest mark on my skin, because there really isn’t any going back…. but hey. It’s like getting married. You make a choice, and you stick with it as far as you can – even when it isn’t easy. If you get divorced, you will still be scarred: it’ll never be the way it once was. But isn’t it better to have loved (and lost, if you really wanna go down the laser route) than never have loved at all?

    That’s my analogy, anyway – for the most part I am super happy that I have gone the route I have with my tattoos! But I will always remember this stressful part of my life, which is why I wanted to document it.

  10. Katlyn permalink
    August 25, 2015 1:52 am

    I am going through the same thing. I love my half sleeve but like you mentioned up top. I am not fond of the background. It’s very dark. I’m trying to come to terms with it. Somedays I look at it and am thinking its awesome and feminine. Other days I look at it and I think, yikes this is bold and manly. Please email, would love to talk. My name is Katlyn. .

  11. Maria permalink
    July 3, 2015 2:33 am

    I am so grateful that I found this dairy. I related to absolutely each and every one of your words. Thank you so much. This is my 5th day with my lower inner wrist tattoo. I have been crying and depressed since I’ve had this stamped on me. I am going through an almost identity crisis because, 1- it is bigger than I expected and the artist was pushy in getting it bigger and bigger, and 2 – I’m not sure I am in love with the design. While it is not a terrible tattoo and was done with lovely colors, I am obsessed with it and obsessed with not seeing it.

    I anticipated a tattoo in this spot for years to cover a scar. I logically know that being possibly judged for a tattoo is better than being possibly judged for a scar. But I just feel like I’ve been unhinged. This is incredibly draining and I’ve been getting anxiety attacks daily. My husband and friend calm me by telling me to give it time. This is my only solace.

    I am in the same boat with money (or lack thereof) but I will max out my credit cards if down the line I’m 100% sure I want it removed. But I am really really hoping that I will grow comfortable in my skin, and in this new “image” of myself. I keep thinking “meanings will change, but good art won’t, so think of it as a painting”.

  12. Mag permalink
    May 31, 2015 11:21 am

    This is what I am going through right now! I had mine done two days ago at a tattoo con. I wanted something relatively small and feminine on my lower inner arm. For some reason the artist kept scaling it up (in order to position it better I guess) and I just sat there, in f*cking silence. Maybe because I was surrounded by people with larger than life tattoos and I just went with it. Now I keep thinking how much I miss my pristine white skin. It doesn’t help to hear my own family being negative about it. ”It’s too big!!!” ”How will you find a job this way?” ”It’s too dark””This looks manly.” For an approval junkie like me this is killer. I feel severely depressed and I have no been myself for the past 2 days. It’s a nice looking tattoo but it is just too big and too dark. I miss seeing my skin…..This is beyond depressing…

    • Maria permalink
      July 3, 2015 2:35 am

      Hi Mag,
      I wanted to know how you are doing with the tattoo. I have posted my story as well and am going through an identical identity crisis. It’s a roller coaster of emotions that I never anticipated! Especially considering that I am a stubborn and impulsive person. I am hoping to grow to love this ink blotch on my wrist with time, or maybe hopefully there will be some magic eraser potion a few years down the line if I don’t.

      • Mag permalink
        September 12, 2015 11:43 pm

        I was extremely upset over it for a month or so. It felt like a nightmare. Major denial. The whole situation finally escalated into a full afternoon of hysterical sobbing at my boyfriends place. After that I no longer worried about it and I have now grown to love my tattoo. Whereas before I saw it as something ”foreign” and would constantly pick apart every single flaw, nowadays it’s just a part me. I think for a moment I was experiencing an identity crisis because in a way it felt like letting go of my former self. My body had permanently changed, it was a big deal. It simply took me a while to internalize that. How are you doing with yours? In the worst case scenario, you can always get it removed. Laser technology will continue improving so you will always have that option no matter what. 🙂

  13. Megan permalink
    April 20, 2015 1:13 pm

    I really appreciated reading this. I am in this exact position right now and I am feeling so depressed, lost, and sad. My tattoo is also the first “visible” that I have gotten and I will have to wear long sleeves to work every day to cover it up. It also deeply meaningful but I’m just not sure that I want to have it. I am having a really hard time with this. Thanks for posting.

  14. Suzie permalink
    March 20, 2014 10:35 pm

    This was such a great read. Thank you. I am going through the exact same feelings right now with one I got four weeks ago and I’m midway through my journey…I think I’m kinda starting to come to terms with it but I’ve seriously shocked myself and feel like a bit of a knob for getting myself into this situation. The main problem is that the artist kinda rushed me into something last minute and I WISH I had stood my ground. Alas – it’s there now, what can I do? I had a consultation at Reset Rooms for laser removal but that’s kind of put me off that method for now. It really isn’t an easy road to go down. And…part of me really LIKES this tattoo, but part of me hates it! I feel so split down the middle, and like the commenter above said – self conscious. It’s like I’m. Making a massive statement the whole time, when I’m really not. I only wish mine had some meaning behind it that I could cling on to. Man, I really miss wearing short sleeves! 😦

  15. Phil permalink
    May 30, 2012 11:14 pm

    This is absolutely unbelievable. You and I have had nearly identical experiences in our reactions to our new tattoos. I really can’t believe how similar our stories are. My tattoo, also on my bicep and originally intended to be small enough to be hidden by my shirt sleeve, now runs the length of my inner arm all the way to my elbow. I instantly hated it and was deeply depressed in the months that followed. Your stating that visible tattoos bring a “degree of self-awareness, and attention from other people, that you just don’t get when tattoos are hidden” is spot on. I’ve had that exact thought many times while attempting to determine what it was exactly about my tattoo that bothered me so much. Basically, it makes me feel self conscious. Anyway, I had to write you because I was really floored to discover how parallel our experiences have been. I myself have not fully come to terms with my tattoo. I’m mid-way through what is sure to be a very long removal process and might very well end up getting re-tattooed if I’m not achieving the results I hope for. Thanks for this great post!

    If you did, for whatever reason want to chat about the experience, my email address is:

    Take care,


    • joanne permalink
      December 5, 2013 8:46 am

      Hi i am the same,:-) great story,i had a tattoo on my breast in 1999 and had a visible bird bona branch on my wrist about month who and still struggling she did it with colour and i didn’t have the heart Monday when i saw the outline it was too big x man that’s not like me either thanks for your story a i have struggled with wanting laser and i think it is bad for people with immune problems ,i am coming to terms with keeping it but many people juggle5you and that hard


  1. Two links that have given me the slightest of hope | My Journal To No Regrets

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