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The elephant and lion

by Andrea Papa 2 years ago in healing
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This story shows the symbolism of my largest tattoo on my body and the struggles that I went through just to get it! Enjoy reading my journey on the elephant and lion chase.

A person can do one of two things; fall or rise. During struggling times are always the best times to get a new tattoo. It was a major thing on my mind during a depressing part of my life. People go through pain of getting many needles stabbed into them, just to find pleasure. One little piece of art on a person's body can have much meaning supported behind it. I have always had a passion for wanting tattoos, but it was a struggle when it actually came to getting the tattoo itself. It caused me a lot of anxiety and panic to express myself this way. Wanting a very large tattoo on a scar area that symbolized my strength, on my thigh, being the first, was not something I wanted to do. I started with seven small pieces before I could even think about getting my large work done. When it was time to get the large piece started, I had thought I was ready. Apparently not. Meeting a tattoo artist during a job I was working at,during a dark time, I never thought I would have been in so much pain.

I was always wanting tattoos to symbolise who I am to other people to see my body work. I also wanted tattoos to cover up scars that I didn’t want to see any more. My first tattoo was on my foot; sign language of “I Love You”. My mom would always use this sign to me as a little girl when we would leave each other. It meant a lot to me, so much that my brother also did the same to him. The difference between me and my brother's tattoo was that I went to the shop and he did it free hand himself. My next one was a simple heart, for I am full of love. My next two tattoos were of the sun and moon, the sun on one arm and the moon on the other arm. Another two after that was the word Leo on my collar bone for my astrological sign is Leo and my cat's name is Leo. The next one was done on my back saying “Two to kiss, Two to hug, but most of all, Two to love,” with my daughter's name after it. The last tattoo i had gotten was my big tattoo, that leg one over scar I didn’t want to get done first out of fears.

At the time of wanting to get my large tattoo, I was struggling. I was dealing with ptsd and was in the process of getting to know myself around this time. I was in a rocky relationship with twins who were three years old working at dominoes. One day I was on a delivery later in the evening and I dropped it to this man who had a tattoo shop logo I recognized on his sweatshirt. I asked him if he had worked there and he said yes and gave me his phone number. At the time of this interaction I didn’t think anything to be weird about it. I was still not mature enough to realize strange situations, I wasn’t very mindful.

After meeting this claimed artist I went into the shop he worked at and got my tattoo before my large one. The atmosphere of the shop was very good; it was clean and well kept up. May 15th 2018, I laid down on my back so the artist could do his work on my right shoulder. Honestly I didn’t feel a thing with this tattoo, which made me even more comfortable. Because the tattoo was on my back I trusted that it was good work done to it. While getting my back tattoo dedicated to my girls I talked to the artist about him doing my elephant tattoo on my thigh. He agreed and I sent him the photo of what I wanted done and set the appointment to start my most meaningful tattoo.

The design I wanted the artist to create on my thigh was a beautiful elephant with many flowers surrounding it. Previously I had wanted a lion on top of my scar area but my decision changed. The man that I was in a relationship with had a fascination with elephants because of his ancestry. I wanted a lion for the fact that my astrological sign is a Leo. What I should have done was look at what each animal truly meant and find out which one represented strength to me.

The symbolism of the elephant is that of good luck, wisdom within, and having successes and power. The symbolism of a lion is strength, assertiveness, and having and learning personal powers. Lions are the type of animal to have much anger and aggression and they have issues upon dealing with their emotional feelings. The last thing a lion symbolism is there for is to show or warn of situations that may cause issues in life. Looking at my own observations of the difference between the elephant symbolism and lion symbolism, it shows why the lion tattoo was a choice at this time rather than the lion. At that time in my life I was in a depression where I did not feel lucky or wise of my decisions and I felt like I couldn’t achieve anything that I wanted to. At that time in my life I was having issues dealing with my emotions and anger resolved around my relationships that failed.

June 4th 2018, July 2nd 2018, September 25th were all the days I had gotten this tattoo, two of the three I had gotten infected. The next statements show what I had gone through with this tattoo artist and shop.

I was at a loss after having to deal with all of the troubles I went through with this artist/ non artist so I needed justice. I wrote the shop a very strong worded email and asked for my deposit back. The email said “First off I had met Autur when I was working at dominos. He was asking to give me a tattoo. He has now done two tattoos on my body. The first one is a slightly rough design and needs to be touched up and the second one has caused two infections out of the tree sessions. Each time I had an appointment at noon, someone else had walked in seconds before me and had gotten their tattoo done before me even though mine was scheduled and there's was not. This man had no communication while doing my tattoo. You would think your tattoo artist would want to make you feel comfortable correct? He seemed very off and I had seen a vape pen of some sort in his pocket while he was doing my tattoo. I had also observed his many breaks while doing only an hour or less of working on the tattoo. Meaning his breaks caused me to have to stay longer and stealing my money because the cost was time based. Also with these breaks he was going out side and smelled like cigarettes when walking back in. I did not see him ever wash his hands after coming back in from his breaks. He had paper towel on me after finishing the session and came back from the break touching the paper towel without gloves on. I left the store after the two sessions of infected tattoo feeling very weird and not right. This was instantly that my tattoo was affected. It was scaly, bleeding a lot, red, and hot. I had cleaned it and took care of as I am supposed to. I have 8 other tattoos where this situation has not happened. I know this was not normal. I wouldn't care if I didn't have a swollen lymph node in my leg causing me pain. I wouldn't care I didn't have to take time out of my day to go to the doctor because of this. Tomorrow when I go in will be the third time I've gone to the doctors because of this terrible infection. The first time I went to the hospital it was only two days after having the tattoo. The photos do not do it justice. The doctors at the hospital gave me antibiotics through an IV instantly and said I had a serious infection. I can send these to you as well if you do not believe me. I am not able to pay for all these medial expenses. I have been on 17 days on antibiotics and will most likely need more. This has been very unprofessional and all I had asked for was my deposit back. That would have been a nice Gesture so you guys wouldn't have to deal with this trouble either. Thanks.” After sending the business this email they asked me to come so I did the next day. Most tattoo shops refuse to give deposits back, but I got mine that day. To me it was a victory, I got my justice; I just didn’t get to finish my tattoo. Oh I forgot to mention, after this I became terrified to get tattoos.

After being affected by getting a tattoo it took me a long time to get more or even want to finish my lion tattoo, for it still has work to do. I have finally gotten to the point where I am comfortable again and I cannot wait to finish it! I have also come to a point in my life now where I have gotten the strength of the lion, but now I know how to deal with my emotions. I am finally ready for my elephant tattoo as well for the fact I have become wise after dealing with struggling issues.

Going through this was a painful time, but honestly it truly symbolizes the meaning of what I wanted it to be! Going through the struggle of my tattoo that symbolizes my strength and has taught me very valuable lessons in life. In order to be strong, you must go through the struggles and fall before you can rise.


About the author

Andrea Papa

Busy mother of twin girls who has a passion for life. Life is always a struggle, but there are always ways out. Having my voice heard helps me know I am not only changing my own life, but the life of others as well.

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