a great reminder

April 17, 2013Karen Courcy

26703_126812840693038_2806402_nYesterday I had my hair up and I was trying on a dress (yes a dress) for the first time in years, and in the mirror I saw the tattoo on the back of my neck.

The picture to your left is a photo of my tattoo. I have written about my tattoo before, but it’s been a while, and yesterday I was reminded why I got it, and what it means to me.

I sometimes forget that I have it, unless someone randomly asks me “hey what does your tattoo mean?” – it means “Faith, courage, Wisdom.

I got this tattoo almost 4 years ago, and it’s one of the most liberating things I have ever done. I got it as a symbol of my healing – Having the Faith to heal, The courage to have voice, and the wisdom I have learned along the way.

Yesterday when I saw it, I smiled. I was reminded of that very day of sitting in that chair at the tattoo parlor with my husband bent over, grabbing onto my husband’s leg while the pain went right through me from the top of my neck, right to the bottom of my feet.

The pain was different, it was the kind of pain that had healing behind it.

It was the kind of pain that was stating that my voice is louder than the past, and I have empowerment of this choice I am making.

The pain was knowing this was going to be a mark that I would hold the rest of my life; a constant reminder of where I am in this journey both good and bad – hard and easy – sad and joyful.

Sometimes when we are going through a tough time, we tend to forget all the little things around us that keep us grounded.

The reminder that I have a beautiful family. A reminder that I have friends who love me fully for who I am. I have a GOD who never fails me. I have my healing path in front of me that God created, and the therapist who I adore and trust every day I work with him.

I am reminded that even in the hard days, there is grace all around me.

I am reminded of that when my husband holds me and rocks me and says “I love you and everything is going to be ok” when I am having a hard time.

I think we shut our eyes to those reminders around us sometimes. I think sometimes the hard consumes us so much that we forget to pull ourselves into the now and say “what am I grateful for? who do I have by my side, what did God give me? and look at the possibilities right in front of me to grab at anytime”.

I am guilty of just that sometimes; being consumed in the hard, and then I blink my eyes a couple of times and say “Hey that’s right, I am strong, I can get through this, and I have the best people God gave me to walk this path with.

When I saw my tattoo in the mirror, my heart smiled – I felt it was almost as if God was reminding me “Karen, you have Faith, you have courage, and you have wisdom”.

Out of no where yesterday my Therapist said to me “Hey, everything is going to be okay, nothing has changed, you are safe here, you’re loved and cared for, and we will continue to turn our face towards the sun (your healing path). He quoted from the bible:

Ezekiel 21:2 –  “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem, and drop your word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel”

Meaning – lets turn our face to the sun of your healing, and leave behind whatever of which tries to take me off that path.

t’s a beautiful verse and yet another reminder.

One thing I have learned about this healing path and working through this for many years is that  – it’s not easy, but when it’s the hardest, that is when the most healing is taking place.

So today I am going to keep reminding myself of all the things around me. I will remind myself that even in hard times on this path, sad times, or when I am not feeling as strong – that grace can be found right in the middle of the hard, and all I have to do is  look at the beautiful tattoo on my neck that reminds me:

I have the FAITH to heal, the courage to have a voice, and the wisdom I carry along the way.


  • Sharon O

    April 17, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    That would hurt so much I am not a fan of tatoo’s but I am glad yours bring meaning to you. It definitely would not be worth it if there was no meaning.

    1. KarenBeth

      April 17, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      Sharon, trust me, I was shaking and almost left the tattoo parlor when I saw the big intimidating tatoo artist with rings through his nose lol .. BUT a huge part of my healing is about pushing through pain that is by choice – has meaning for me.. it was worth it, and believe it or not, it was a rush for me lol .. not one I would do again, but a rush for sure

  • ziggy40

    April 17, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Thank you, I’m in a black place today, I’m missing my partner who died, I feel alone. Yet in front of me are my puppies who love unconditionally , I’ve been ‘praying’ God to spare me. I haven’t looked to see where he is though ! I don’t have any blood family, I guess I’m just feeling sorry for myself. I do have a mother ,she’s just hurting and taking it out on me. I know she really doesn’t mean this, it does really hurt, I’m an only child, no father, and she’s an only child, so we get mixed up . I’m glad you have someone to ‘hold’ you ,remind you it’ll be ok. Like you I do have an amazing T….loln

    1. KarenBeth

      April 17, 2013 at 6:39 PM

      Ziggy … so sorry that today is darker for you. I understand those days when something is hard, everything else turns the same color. Connecting with others is the best way through it.. it always helps me. the moment I isolate in those feelings, is when that sucks me in.. thank you for sharing your hard day…. you are not alone 🙂

      1. ziggy40

        April 17, 2013 at 7:29 PM

        Thank you for those kind words. I do feel like I’ll burden people. You are correct isolation is ‘great’ fuel for negativity! It’s just scary to admit having such dark thoughts .

    2. Gel

      April 17, 2013 at 11:59 PM

      Hi Ziggy,
      I’m thinking of you and hoping it gets better soon.

      1. ziggy40

        April 18, 2013 at 5:46 AM

        Hey there lovely, thanks for your kind words, I’m feeling bit better now. Just doing hard stuff with my T. He’s been in touch, I didn’t realize how much was buried!!….lol

  • Gel

    April 17, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    It’s nice to see a new part of you. I love how you created a way to express what’s really important to you and fill it with meaning that will endure. I like your choice of where to locate the tatoo.

    I’m having a hard time believing that ” when it’s the hardest, that is when the most healing is taking place”….It’s not that I don’t believe YOU. It seem difficult to separate when something is hurting because it’s coming out like a wound being cleaned. And distinguishing when is something just being re-lived/retraumatized? I’ve heard of people speaking of being retraumatized, like adding to their trauma by going into it too fast…I’m not sure I understand it. Maybe it depends a lot on the context like if you are feeling pain that comes up in therapy and the context is a healing context with someone you trust instead of some real life situation that is actually hurtful like the way you got hurt in the past.

    I think most though I just don’t want to feel pain of any sort. It’s like no matter what theraputic explanation is given, if it’s painful that means something is WRONG. OK i’m not saying I want to see it that way, it’s just what seems like my mode of operation.

    I’m tired from gardening and will let this line of thought go for now. Thanks for listening and writing some good stuff again.

  • KarenBeth

    April 18, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    Gel . . . I totally get what you are saying, and believe it or not, there have been a couple of times I was re-traumatized while in the healing process, and we learned from that experience and now my therapist knows how to go around those areas that are triggering. My therapist is the slowest mover and wont take any moves that are too fast that could trigger.

    The BEST way that my therapist explained to me in the past of how healing works, he said “healing is a lot like chemo treatment for cancer, healing goes through you and kills everything off inside of you, and you feel absolutely HORRIBLE working through it, but as time goes by, you eventually start to feel better slowly, but it gets worse before it gets better”..

    When he told me that analogy, I GOT IT. I remember times leaving therapy saying “I FEEL WORSE than I DID GOING IN” .. well of course, because there is no easy answer right in that moment. Its a hard hard painful process.

    Andy told me once that there are many clients who dont make it past the first month of therapy because of just that. You have to grab the bulls by the horn and say OK pain here we go, because I know deep inside there is something on the other side of this.

    It’s hard to understand Gel, but I will say this.. look how far you have come and I am sure you have been through many pains…. I think you are doing great with your own healing process and I am so proud of you

    1. Gel

      April 18, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      Karen, It’s really good to hear your perspective. With my rational mind I totally trust what you are saying and I ‘get’ what you mean.

      I will be looking for a different metaphor than chemo therapy though. My sister was with terminal cancer a number of years ago and finally agreed to have chemo. Before our eyes she withered and died really fast due to how harsh chemo can be. Perhaps it would have been different if she had had the chemo earlier in the disease process. But it was so heart breaking to lose her that way, so fast.

      I do understand how chemo is suppose to work and that there are no guarantees etc. And I know that using metaphors is somewhat personal as to which ones work for you. So I really will see if I can find a different image, but one that captures this idea of how things feel worse through the healing process. I really need that.

      Thanks dear friend.

      1. Katrin M.

        April 18, 2013 at 9:07 PM

        Gel, I often think of pain as a path to strength. Building a muscle requires breaking down the muscle tissue through exercise of some sort. After it breaks down it rebuilds stronger. I think of my therapy as breaking down the walls, de-constructing what was built in childhood, all the lies, and trickery that surrounded who I became. Lies such as, I am of no value. I know in my head that I have to be, but I feel that I’m not. That feeling and many others are based on 15 years of childhood emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. What I believe about the world and myself are based on my parents’ abuse, their lies. Whenever we learn something wrong the first time and then have to relearn it the correct way, it’s always harder and takes longer. This is true for anything you learn. If you don’t learn it correctly the first time, unlearning it and then relearning it is gruesomely painful!!! But relearning it correctly is productive. This is how I come to grips with my pain from therapy. Although, I have to admit, it also makes me angry…GRRRR!! But that’s another post for another day. 

  • Leslie Neshama

    April 18, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    These comments are filled with eloquence and poignancy. I am so touched by you, All. The idea of isolating when I am in pain really resounds for me. And I weep right now realizing how old a pattern that is….
    I stand in awe of all here who travel out of the pain of Trauma. Yours is a journey different than mine, but I learn from you.
    G-d’s blessings.
    All ways.

    1. KarenBeth

      April 18, 2013 at 7:43 AM

      Leslie… I understand. But you know what? your never alone.. because we have those really hard times too. I think writing reminders helps me along the way.

      Just know that by you responding is connection, and that is good 🙂 .. if you ever want to talk, you can feel free to email me anytime.

      I am glad the community of people help.. thats the beauty of connection – is knowing your are not alone . 🙂

  • Leslie Neshama

    April 18, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    Beautiful Karen Beth,
    Thank you, from my heart.
    Perhaps I have not grown past the memories of childhood, when I felt so terribly alone, helpless, lost, in despair…..
    I see my psychiatrist today and you have helped me to illuminate where I want to go: from the dark alone-ness to the Light.
    I am scared to emerge. In a way I can remind myself that if I need to go back into hiding, I can…..
    Oh boy………
    Your courage and that of others who come here inspires me.
    Bless you, Karen.

Please take a moment to comment! I love connecting with others!

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