Tattoo comes from the Tahitian word ‘tatau’ meaning ‘to mark’ and when we get a tattoo that is exactly what we are doing. Tattoos can be a meaningful symbol, a celebration, part of our culture or simply decorative marks on the skin.
Love them or hate them it feels like there is no in between when and speaking to people about tattoos. I have many all over my arms and belly. I’ll be totally honest about my reason for having so many. Pain. Yep. It’s addictive. Many people have said the same; tattooing is addictive. And indeed, it is. When we experience physical pain our brain releases chemicals; endorphins and adrenaline.
These chemicals are similar to the adrenalin rush you might feel if you enjoy jumping out of a plane or going on a rollercoaster. When you are stressed your sympathetic nervous system goes into the fight or flight response. Adrenaline is released to prepare your muscles and heart to run away or fight.
The brain releases endorphins in response to pain. These are the same chemicals that are released when we exercise. Endorphins lower the experience of pain and makes us feel good. Which explains why we go back for more.
Expression of self
I had the majority of my tattoos after the separation of my abusive partner. For me, they felt like an expression of myself. I had completely lost my sense of who I was in the years leading up to the separation. I had forgotten who I was at my core as can so often happen in being a wife and mother.
Added to this I had struggled with depression and, being in an emotionally abusive relationship, had suffered what can be described as trauma.
My tattoos are about freedom and being a free spirit; birds, trees, sprites, fairies and mandalas adorn my body. My tattoos enabled me to feel empowered. I was writing out how I felt onto my body; my need for freedom, spirituality, my love and feelings of oneness with nature. This was all coming back to the essence of who I was.