Why I got this elephant tattoo
Lookie, I got a tattoo!!!!
This isn't just a pretty thing I got, like a purse or a new pair of yoga pants. Not that there's anything wrong with getting a tattoo just because it's pretty. Carlos, my artist, told me that not every tattoo has to have a story.
But this guy does.
This tattoo is a symbol of where I’ve been and where I’m going. It’s a badge of honor that I’ll proudly wear for the rest of my life. It’s a representation of the obstacles I’ve overcome and a blessing for new beginnings as I continue my journey.
We’ve all overcome obstacles, and too often we sweep them under the rug. These trials are part of our story; they make us who we are. If we talk about them openly and honestly, we truly regain our power. My eating disorder controlled me for years, and that control didn’t loosen until I began to talk about it and work through the scars left by sexual assault.
These aren’t topics I walk around and blurt to the world. This coffee is delicious. OH BY THE WAY did you know I was raped and had bulimia and anorexia? ... not the best conversation starter. But I’m not ashamed anymore. The most difficult part of recovery was beginning; was admitting to myself and those closest to me that I had a problem. But once I opened up it became something outside of me — an obstacle; something I could overcome.
Speaking of obstacles, let's talk about Ganesha.
Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, is the remover of obstacles. He represents new beginnings as well as wisdom.
STORY TIME: Even when Ganesha’s head was cut off by his own father’s rage, life didn’t end. His father Shiva sent for the first creature’s head, which was that of a strong elephant’s, and Ganesha became a great god. (You can learn more about Ganesha here.)
My tattoo isn't Ganesha. It's an elephant. I love what Ganesha represents. I'm not a Hindu, but my elephant is a nod to Ganesha. I love the stories from the ancient texts and believe there is much to learn from them, but it wouldn't feel authentic for me to get a tattoo of a deity I don't actually worship. Annnd that's about as far as I'll get into talking about religion on here.
I also just dig elephants. Beyond Ganesha, no elephants let obstacles get in their way. They effortlessly remove them and move forward with grace. They hold great power, yet they don’t flex that power unless necessary. There is strength in their slowness, which I respect. I believe that I also possess a quiet strength — strength that's helped me overcome obstacles.
Sometimes, when facing critical challenges, it feels like we should give up. It feels like we don’t deserve better and we may even wish for death. But there’s a silver lining in hitting the bottom. When we hit the bottom, we have nowhere to go but up. And after knowing what the bottom is like, we can fully enjoy life at the top. I don’t wish for anyone to reach their bottom, but I don’t regret that I did, because it’s allowed me to feel more grateful and celebrate simple things — like my health.
This tattoo is a celebration. A celebration of my story — my past, present and future. It’s a celebration of completing yoga teacher training, but more than that it’s a celebration of overcoming obstacles and gaining wisdom from my experiences.