Excerpt from On the Outside Looking In.

The pain getting my tattoo was crucial. Imagine hours and hours with many sessions, with needles being scraped into your back. This pain though I believe, could not be compared to the pain that an addict must feel internally.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of a suffering addict while getting my tattoo, trying to see how well I could ignore the pain without taking any internal drugs. It was very hard. If I had something to take the pain away, it would have made it much easier. I think that is how most addicts feel. They just want to take the pain away, even if it is for a moment.

Realistically the pain an addict is trying to make go away does not. It is just numb for a while, just like numbing gel does for a tattoo. It relieves the skin for a bit like drugs/alcohol may relieve an addict for a short amount of time. But the pain comes back and it’s normally worse than before. Skin being tattooed becomes red, bloody and very sore. The longer the tattoo session, the worse it gets. The numbing gel wears off very quickly leaving the pain almost unbearable, just like when an addict is coming down. Their pain is still there, but intensified now because not only do they have the pain they started out with, they now have the pain of coming off the drugs/alcohol.

After a tattoo session your skin is an open wound. You have to nurture it with lotions and antibacterial soaps to make sure it does not get infected, also like an addict has to do when they are coming down. Their internal emotions are very open like a wound. They have to guard and nurture themselves to become strong. If they are unable to do so, infection can set in. The addict’s infection though is their need to get high or drunk.

I chose my back to put this tattoo because it is the backbone of your body, the strongest part. Your back carries you and supports you. It is your outer strength.

When I was 16 my dad gave me a cross necklace. This necklace means the world to me and I have never taken it off. The cross on my tattoo is that cross, except in my tattoo it has one diamond shining in the middle to represent my dad. The necklace itself has diamonds all throughout it.

The heart around the cross is made up of ginger flowers. The ginger flowers represent pride. For my tattoo represents that no matter what happened in my dad’s life, I will be forever proud of him and love him unconditionally.

The sunrise is heaven and all its glory; I believe that is where my dad is.

The doves represent peace and tranquility.

The verse that is in the scroll reads:

When I called you answered me, you made me bold by strengthening my soul. Psalms 138:3

In the beginning I was weak; I prayed to Jesus one night to give me the strength I needed to go on. I believe Jesus heard me loud and clear that night. I have never felt so courageous and free from fear since then.

The cherry blossoms represent his beautiful life. Cherry blossoms do not bloom very long, but when they do they are beautiful and unique, just like life. I have the cherry blossoms growing up into the sunrise to show that even though life was not beautiful all the time for him on earth, it will be beautiful for him now in Heaven.