The mythology of the Phoenix has resonated with me for quite some time. To have something completely burn to the ashes, and then rise again stronger and more beautiful than before.
In my late teens/early twenties, I had a boyfriend who completely stripped me of my self-worth. Coming out of that took years of therapy and rebuilding, and I decided I wanted to celebrate my new found independence with something for me and something no one would expect of me. So I got a tattoo. I drew my favorite flower, a plumeria, with vines, and went with some friends to get it tattooed on my back.
Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with a Stage 1 tumor on my right ovary. It was a scary few months there, and when I healed, I got another tattoo on my wrist of a plumeria, which tied in to the tattoo on my back, and a lotus blossom, which, similar to the Phoenix, symbolizes overcoming a hard time.
Shortly thereafter, I followed my heart and my love to New York City, and built myself a life as a new East Coaster. And then, it fell apart. And I had to pick up the pieces and move back to California 5 years later.
I’d wanted to add a phoenix to the wrist tattoo for a while, but it didn’t’ feel right. I lost track of the person who had originally done my wrist over the years, the design never worked, and I couldn’t find an artist I loved. Timing just wasn’t right.
A few months ago, I reconnected with someone I met when I was 19, and lost touch with when I was going through first rebuilding life phase of my early 20s. He told me he was amazed at the challenges I’ve overcome, and how I have handled everything with dignity and grace. I had always felt like I’ve been stuck in survival mode, but to hear it from his point of view – someone who’s known me since before life tore me apart – was a fresh way of looking at the last decade and a half. And the idea of the Phoenix tattoo resurrected itself.
A few weeks ago, I heard that my old artist was at a tattoo place in Long Beach – the place I settled after returning to California from the East Coast. It was too perfect.
I always wanted the Phoenix as a personal reminder that I can overcome any challenge I face, but now that I look at it, maybe it’s a warning to anything in my path. Come at me, life. I’m waiting.