began my journey of self- destruction that has spanned over 34 yrs. The long lasting effects of this abuse have manifested in a wide range of issues for me. Flashbacks, PTSD, anxiety, Bipolar, and self-mutilation, have landed me in three mental institutions, beginning at the age of 13.
My lack of self-worth, accompanied with my self-destructive tendencies included two attempts at suicide, drug addiction, and 5 trips to prison and over 10 yrs. collectively spent behind bars. Not to mention the re-victimization: domestic violence, prostitution and human trafficking … just to name a few…
I can remember distinctly two occasions after surviving the night tasting and feeling the cold steel of a 380 pistol shoved deep within my mouth. It was an absolute miracle that I did not pull the trigger. The following day I went and got a tattoo. It was a testament to myself, that I was a survivor and a reminder of the strength that I had to prevail those nights. From that moment on tattoos became a coping mechanism for me. My addiction chained me to the underworld of violence, gangs, crime, prison and human trafficking. Each of these came with a host of traumatic experiences…sometimes on a daily basis. When my macabre collection of degradation and suffering became absolutely overwhelming often I would get a tattoo rather than put my own gun to my head. There is hardly a place on my body that does not have a tattoo. Hands, face, arms, legs, chest, stomach, etc. etc., Each one tied to a pool of horrific events. No longer am I bound by slavery. I no longer allow other people, my past, or my addiction to define me. Yet everyday tasks that often merit no thought…can be absolutely haunting for me. When I brush my teeth and see my hands in the mirror I am assaulted with images of rape, being stabbed, beaten. Washing my hands, eating, drinking, dressing…The joy of picking up my nieces is snuffed out by images of brutality. I do not need tattoos to remind me of the suffering and profound loss that I have left behind. The flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts are adequate. These tattoos not only represent tragedy, they unfortunately often determine how others respond to me as well. I have had prospective employers literally laugh in my face during interviews. I have had women grab their children in grocery stores as if I was going to snatch them. People lock their car doors as I walk pass. Store clerks have only served me through the service window and yet open the doors for others. You get the idea.
There is a lot more to tattoo removal than walking in and getting them tapped with a laser. As I mentioned above, these tattoos are tied to experiences. And each time I am tapped with the laser I dive into that darkness all over again. Some sessions have brought back painful memories that I have never addressed before. Tracie does more than remove my tattoos. She helps peel back the layers of lies and abuse that have held me in bondage. She is healing the imprint of my trauma from the outside in. These collective sessions have transformed me, in more ways than one. At the least they fuel my motivation to embrace growth, change and the desire to better myself. I also take this hope and share it with those that I have left behind. Tracie has truly helped me to reinvent myself. Today I can create when I wake up, whether I create art, hope in other people’s lives or even my own destiny. I no longer need to use tattoos to channel my trauma. Removing these tattoos, with Tracie meeting me in the darkness has been the ultimate release of my past and a new chapter of my life has begun. Thanks Tracie…Body Restore…Phoenix Charities.