When I called my sister the other day with some exciting news to share, her response was this: "Dude! You're blowin' it out the badass box lately!" (We used to be American Idol fans, and judge Randy Jackson was known to say that contestants were "blowin' it out tha box"...we've adopted that into our occasional lexicon to tell one another we were particularly rocking it).
For over a week now, I've been thinking that I really need to sit down and write about the past couple weeks - even just for me, if I'm not going to share it. There has been so much going on -- SO much -- and it is good. Deeply good. Beautiful, even. There is a lot going on inside of my heart right now, and it is deeply good and beautiful.
It feels hard to write about, because it feels intensely personal. It is intensely personal, and most of it I will not share. But I am curious about the fact that it feels necessary to hold this thing that is happening so close to my heart. I am curious about the fact that I feel this intensity of emotion, and the ways that this makes me feel so alive. I am curious about, and amazed by, and grateful for the ways I feel powerful, and brave, and empowered. I am curious about the ways this is living inside me so intensely, and the ways this is good, and beautiful, and overwhelming, and hard in ways that feel right. I am curious about the ways alive feels like so much right now, and the ways that "so much" doesn't feel like "too much," but like a gift I am finding a way to live into.
I am noticing the ways I am laughing louder, more frequently, less self-consciously. I am noticing the ways I feel like my body belongs to me in ways it never felt like it did. I am noticing that I not only feel at home in my body, but also in community. I am not always waiting, always looking, always preparing for disaster. My body is not always scanning, always gauging, always timing the quickest route to an exit. I don't spend as much time convincing myself of all the reasons why no one will accept me/like me/be kind. I don't work quite so hard to convince myself of all the reasons why I should not go to events, and of all the reasons why no one will want me there.
This is beautiful, and good, and overwhelming, and hard, and it feels like I need to hold it close to my heart. It is so much. It feels fragile and powerful all at once, and there is something about it that is hard to say aloud. There is some fear, and some joy, and lots of gratitude, and questions about "deserving" and worth and owning my body and my intensity and my strength. There are questions, and thoughts, and also the fact that it is happening -- that it is here inside my skin, and making its way into my laughter and my smile and my presence. It is so many feelings. My heart feels different. It just feels different. Remember a few weeks ago when I said that my 30 days of poetry project felt holy in a holy-as-a-verb-and-not-an-adjective sort of way? That's how this feels - like there is an action that is happening in my heart, and that action is holy. This process of coming into my body, coming into my heart, feeling powerful -- it's holy. Scared, beautiful, painful, self-critical, ugly, patient, grateful holy.
Part of the badassness I've been up to is the fact that I did something I've wanted to do for a long time: I got a tattoo. In fact, I promised myself this tattoo 5 years ago. As soon as I did this Important Thing, I told myself, I could get this tattoo. It took me 5 years to do the thing, but I did it. I am telling myself that the doing of the thing is the only thing that matters - it does not matter that it took 5 years. It matters only that I did it. That I am doing it. That I continue doing it. This is not easy, but I'm trying. This tattoo was and continues to be a promise to myself to do the thing, and its permanency is a reminder to keep doing the thing. It is important. More important than you can possibly imagine.
People keep asking me "does this design have deeper meaning for you?" Of course it does. Do I seem like someone who would pick something without thinking ALL the thoughts about it first? This design, in fact, has many deeper meanings...but those meanings are for me. Maybe one day I will share them. Maybe I won't. Is it weird that it is so deep and meaningful and important that I can't even write this without getting teary? What I have told people is that this design looks like freedom. And that is so much. So, so much.
I've also had many people say, "I NEVER would have thought you would get a tattoo," or "OMG, you're doing WHAT!?!" or "Woah, YOU'RE getting a tattoo!?!" Perhaps I am an enigma. It wouldn't be the first time I have been called that. What makes me happiest, though, is that my community that means the most to me has been fully supportive. It's not that I needed others' approval -- this was all about a promise to myself -- but it means more than I can say that I live within a community of people who seem to be willing to say "your body is your own," and "we support your decision to do with your body what feels right to you," and "we will love you and share your excitement over this expression of you and your person and your body." No one has questioned or doubted my decision, or (outwardly) negatively judged me because of this. I don't think I expected this judgment necessarily, but its absence feels like a blessing. Its absence (and in fact, its very opposite) makes me feel like me and my body are okay. It makes me feel like we are safe here. And in fact, no one here has even asked me to explain the tattoo or its meaning, now that I think of it: it's just me, and my body, and my decision. I am in control, and I am not being questioned or doubted. It's hard to explain the comfort I feel surrounding that: this is no small thing. It is so much. It is so, so much.
Getting my tattoo feels powerful. It feels brave. It feels like I did something for me, and like this is mine, and it is beautiful. It makes me feel strong. It makes me feel like my body belongs to me, and like I can fully inhabit it safely. When I look in the mirror, every time I see my tattoo, my thoughts are "it is mine, it is mine, it is mine."
Coming up: Part two of "Blowin' it out the badass box."