Decorating the only home I'll have forever

Shannon Sollitt
Posted November 11, 2019 from United States
Pinecone tattoo up-close
My pinecone tattoo. A reminder that we, too, can make forests out of fire.

Facebook reminded me that three years ago last week, I was still full of optimism about the United States' presidential election and the future at-large. Which means three years ago this week, I made an appointment to get my first real tattoo. 

Suddenly my world seemed to be burning around me. On election night, I joined thousands if not millions of sexual assault survivors who crumbled as we watched our country elect a proud sexual predator. I had a toxic job and was building up the courage to leave an increasingly toxic relationship. I had seldom felt such anger, fear, and confusion all at once — a privilege, I realize, allowed to me by my white skin, gender identity, socio-economic status, etc. etc. Still, I needed to do something with these feelings. 

My tattoo artist probably hated me, because I presented a picture I'd found on Pinterest and said, "I want this." But she took it and made it her own, and it was so much better than I could have imagined. I chose a pinecone because they're nature's real phoenix. Certain kinds are evolutionarily adapted to open and spread their seeds during wildfires to allow new forests to grow. I needed a reminder that something beautiful and strong can grow from destruction. 

It was such a small, selfish rebellion. I channeled my anger and fear into something that would only ever impact me. But I also look at that decision as one of the most autonomous I've ever made. I went to the appointment alone. I told some friends of my plan, but not for validation or approval. My mind was already made up. 

I wish I knew who to credit for this thought, but I remember reading something on the internet from a woman expressing that tattoos were her way of decorating the only home she has to live in for the rest of her life. Like homeowners have the freedom to paint their walls, she has the freedom to paint her body as a reminder that it is hers. It struck a chord with my freshly-inked self. Getting a tattoo was bold, impulsive, and selfish. I had never been any of those things before. It was exactly what I needed. 

Three years later, my pinecone is still my only real tattoo (I have a little stick-n-poke on my finger of the Venus symbol [for femininity/feminism/love], given to me by a friend). It's not in a spot I see every day. It's easy to forget what it meant at the time, what it still means. I left the toxic job and partner several states away and have built a new life back in my hometown. So much is still uncertain, but I have seen almost daily the seeds that we — women, mostly — are planting in the midst of this wildfire.

I'm planning my next tattoo. I don't know exactly what it will be yet, except completely, uniquely mine. 

This story was submitted in response to The Real Me.

Comments 20

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Dawn Arteaga
Nov 11
Nov 11

This is beautiful - thank you for sharing. I am soooo with you on all you shared about the feelings about the election and very much admire you for the way you channeled those feelings to healing and inner power. With you in sisterhood, Dawn

Shannon Sollitt
Nov 12
Nov 12

Thank you, Dawn! Here's hoping my 2020 tattoo is born from joy and renewed optimism. :)

maeann
Nov 11
Nov 11

Welcome to World Pulse Shannon. You found a home in this platform :)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the freedom you have.

Shannon Sollitt
Nov 12
Nov 12

Thank you for your support! So happy to be here.

Anita Shrestha
Nov 11
Nov 11

Dear Sis
You are so innovative, keep it continue

Shannon Sollitt
Nov 12
Nov 12

Thank you Anita! In sisterhood <3

Tarke Edith
Nov 11
Nov 11

Hello sister
You are welcome to this special home of Noble women who share their joys and paints together so freely and in return are encouraged by others.
Thanks for sharing dear
Have a nice time with us sis

Shannon Sollitt
Nov 12
Nov 12

Thank you, Tarke! I'm feeling inspired and uplifted already. :)

Lisbeth
Nov 11
Nov 11

We all welcome you to our platform and a big congrats on your first post. I hope yo are feeling the vibe in the platform.
Go round and read stories to be inspired. Thanks and hope you have a great day.
Regards

Shannon Sollitt
Nov 12
Nov 12

Thank you, Lisbeth — feeling the vibe, indeed! Loving it. Thanks for your support. <3

Oluwatoyin Olabisi
Nov 12
Nov 12

Thank you for sharing about your femininity. That is what makes us unique as women.
Stay strong and please follow me back

Shannon Sollitt
Nov 12
Nov 12

Thank you for reading and for your support! I agree, femininity is our superpower. <3

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 12
Nov 12

Hi Shannon,
What a great transformation of struggling with personal effects of your past USA election, to making new decisions about how to survive it all and emerge strong yourself. I learned a lot about 'why tattoos', having seen a lot of beautiful art on people's bodies. Shy to ask, and hard to understand as personally I faint at the thought of a needle. So thanks for your explanation and for your empowering story on how you moved from a place of deep pain to your current beautiful self. Your writing is wonderful.

Shannon Sollitt
Nov 12
Nov 12

Thank you for reading! I will admit the process was... uncomfortable, at best. But personally worth it.
Your support means a lot, thank you. <3

Nov 12
Nov 12
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
Krizelle Manzano
Nov 12
Nov 12

I LOVE the part about a pinecone being "nature's real phoenix." I find the stories behind tattoos so incredibly powerful, especially with ones that have such meaning as yours. I'm so glad that you are in a better situation than where you were on Election Night and that something beautiful came out of that destruction. Beautifully put! Thank you for sharing this. :)

lizzymark
Nov 12
Nov 12

So beautiful a story Shannon. Welcome to world pulse it feels good to be you,there can only be one you. Thanks for shearing
YOU LIKE NO OTHER

Usha K.C.
Nov 13
Nov 13

hi Dear,
thank you for sharing your feelings. wish you a luck for next tattoo planning.
good thing would be happened
love

Obisakin Busayo
Nov 15
Nov 15

This is a great piece! Thank you for sharing with us. Really appreciate and admire your courage and powerful voice
Warmest Love
Busayo

Spiritedsoul
Nov 23
Nov 23

Awesome. I love the symbolism.
Welcome also :)
Hugs,
Jess.