Guilt comes in many forms. Without getting into the specifics and many facets of each type and manner, how about we all agree that EVERYONE has it or has had it in the past. Agreed. I have had it and still do in many forms, though I’m MUCH better at dealing with it this year than ever before. This weeks guilt trip ,albeit a very brief one, hit me when I was getting two new tattoos. Up until 2008, tattoos were a big no-no in my religious world and not something one could openly do nor show. Sure, some of those who had become JW’s had tattoos from their former days before , but they were required to cover them up and not let them be seen. Really? Yep. Sad indeed. Seemed that almost every facet of life was controlled by the men in the hierarchy of the organization. I wanted to see more ink! Sure, I had always wanted a tattoo and longed for one from my earliest days as a kid. Never did I see a tattoo as a deviant art form or something bad but rather as an outward expression of one’s life and self. Nope. Could not have them. They were a sign you were “part of this world”. Ok, I suppose there were elements of society who viewed tattoos as a way of saying “we are badass, so don’t mess with us” . Then again, that could be said of guns, knives, certain clothing styles and hairdos.Does that mean we give all of those items up? And then we were told that tattoos destroyed the canvas God gave us, making it look bad. Huh? Really now, there are plenty of scars, marks, moles and other imperfections that look worse than my ink.
I’d always hear the line ” Imagine what you will look like when you are older and have all of those tattoos?”. I NEVER thought this line of reasoning to be sane. Never. So hence why I adore memes like that one to the right with a hero of mine, Willy Wonka. 🙂
Seriously, do people still think that tattoos make a person bad or good? Or that they automatically turn one into a drug addict or suspect in numerous crimes? Here is where religious groups tend to show their true colours in what they do and how they act. And this is where I still feel slight pangs of guilt. I was one of them and I said, did the same things even though I didn’t WANT to. I went along with my peers.. Ugh.
Being judgmental is one of the most unhealthy and un-Christian things that can take place. Whether it pertains to tattoos, piercings,color,race and religion. Whether someone is gay,bisexual,lesbian or transgender. Whether political,non-political. Or even what ice cream you like, someone will always be there to criticize you for that. And that’s where I was as a JW.
There was always a “rule” available to make me feel guilt in doing something. My hair had to be just right. Tie just perfect. Current style of suit. And if it was not a written rule, it was an unsaid yet sociological one that was passed around verbally. The thought of ever getting a tattoo meant I could never show it. So when I left in 2008, one of the first things I did was look for a tattoo artist that could get me past that hurdle of guilt and to show myself as different from what I had just been part of for over 35 years.
And that I did. My first tattoo was one that proved to be a slippery slope in that , like snack chips, one can never have just one. And this turned out to be so true. I’v only ever had one artist ink this body of mine and he does amazing work. It has been almost eight years since that first tattoo and now I’m up to 42 . Yes, there is a lot of ink on this frame. And while I I don’t have a lot of room left for large works, the ones I DO have tell my story and show my life in many ways. Guilt?
Not near as much as when I started. It was located on my right ankle, still is. Not seen as easily. But times have changed and now I have full sleeves with chest,back,shoulder,leg and hip tattoos as well. I’m balanced. It is part of me. I have finally come to a point where I can say that I simply don’t care what people things about my ink and how I dress nor my “lifestyle”, whatever that means. Overused word is that. This is ME. And I’d rather be different than as seen as a part of the masses of followers. And if indignant,judgmental , egotistical people cannot get past these things things simply …I’m afraid we won’t be friends. And that’s ok as I won’t surround myself with such folks.