Posts Tagged ‘tattoos’

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A really cool step on the restoration tour today. We each got new tattoos. Well, I got my first, and Ceecee got a new one. I had told Angie and a few others my idea for a tat back when we were separated, but I had never told Ceecee until after we were back together.

I got the verse from Song of Solomon in a circle with her name inside, and we decided that two wedding rings linked together was the missing piece. We went to the same artist who had done Ceecee’s first tattoo last Spring and he wrote it up in this really amazing script. I got it on my upper left arm just below the shoulder and it looks great!

Ceecee got a Champagne glass on the inside of her left wrist with bubbles coming up. It’s really cool. When I think of that bottle of Champagne the night she moved into her loft, and of sitting with her when she got her earlier tattoo and of how much I wanted to be able to love her and have her love me back, I’m overwhelmed. This is what the restoration tour is all about. It’s about revisiting the times and places where we got hurt, let each other down, or just missed out on what was meant to be. Now, we can heal those hurts, replace those disappointing memories, and create new ones that are the way they should be.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I’ve been thinking about a tattoo for quite a while now and it came together today. Well, not completely, but enough that I know what I want to do now. I’ve been turning ideas over and over in my head for some time, and I’ve had bits and pieces, but I didn’t know what it would look like, and I didn’t want to move forward on it unless it would really mean something.

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I’ve downloaded these two apps onto my phone that have love quotes and love poems on them and I’ve been reading them. This one said, “Don’t put my name in a heart because a heart can be broken. Put it in a circle because circles go on forever.” I loved that, because I don’t want one of those stupid heart tattoos with my wife’s name in it.

Then I read two verses in Song of Solomon that are awesome. One says, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” and the other one says, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.” I thought, “that sounds like a tattoo to me,” so my idea is to have that first verse going in a circle around Ceecee’s name. I think it should have something else, but I can’t figure out what yet. The thing is, I won’t do anything until we get back together and I don’t really think I should say anything about it to her at this point.

I’ve just been devouring the scriptures. I’ve been reading Proverbs out loud because it’s the book of wisdom and I need wisdom. I got to talk to Ceecee on the phone today and I told her that I had made a decision to go to the old church and confess to the pastor everything I had done. I also told her that I was going to go to my parents and tell them the truth. She seemed really shocked.

She had wanted me to talk to the church when everything was going on and I never would, Now, it’s all part of the “restoring the house” vision that God gave me. I’m just going through and trying to systematically correct, make up for, and restore all the things that I failed at before. I failed to own up to what I did and I failed to respect and honor her and now I’m going to.

I also can’t go on deceiving my parents and pretending that things are not the way they are. If things don’t work, they need to know that I brought this about and they need to hear it from me. I don’t know exactly how much I’m going to tell, but it’s important that I do this and that Ceecee knows that I’m doing it.

Ceecee was the one who called me today and I can’t help feeling that she was reaching out in some way. I really hope so. I’m not about to give up.

Friday, July 2, 2011

I haven’t seen or barely talked to Ceecee since Tuesday morning. I don’t know what the rules are and what I’m allowed and not allowed to do. I don’t want to push, but I’m also supposed to be pursuing her to win her back. She wants time apart and I’m willing to give her that, but I don’t want her to think that I’m not wanting to be with her.

At the apartment, I’ve been praying and reading a lot about love and marriage. I’ve also been leaning on some friends, which is unusual for me. It was really weird, but my friend Joe told me about this guy he met in his neighborhood who has this amazing story of being divorced from his wife and then getting back together. He told me that now this guy helps other couples who are having marriage problems. He gave me his phone number, but I don’t know what to do with it.

I also have this idea that now I want to get a tattoo, but I’m not sure what or where. I realize that it’s just because I want so desperately to connect with Ceecee, but I really do feel this way. I’ve thought about getting a mini version of what she has somewhere on my body, but I’m afraid that would make me seem weak and desperate and I know that’s not what a woman wants.

Tonight, Ceecee and I are going to first Friday art walk. She wants me to bring Taylor. I want it to be like a date, but I’ll take what I can get at this point.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What a last two days this has been! I can’t even begin to recount all the flood of emotions and the feelings since yesterday morning. We picked up the keys in the morning – I waited in the car, I just didn’t have it in me to go in there – then we ran a few errands and picked up the truck.

Once Ceecee explained that she wanted us to share the Champagne and strawberries together and she asked me to stay the night, I felt better, but we were still separating. We also picked up a Captain Morgan set with these silly shot glasses.

They called from the bike shop and her bike was in. They said she needed to come in to get fitted for it and I didn’t see how there would be time, but of course, she was determined, so we went in the early afternoon. It’s a really cool bike.

The moving itself was excruciating. Carrying all of her stuff out of our apartment along with the stuff of ours – some of the furniture, our bed, etc – was awful, but she said she wanted to take the stuff that we would both want if and when we got back together, so that it would already be there.

The worst part was driving there. She took the car with a bunch of fragile stuff and went on ahead, while Taylor and I went in the moving truck. Closing that back hatch and driving away made the reality set in so tangibly that I really began to experience the hurt like I hadn’t yet. Now there was no denying it. This was happening. My wife and I were no longer going to be together.

After we got unpacked and Taylor and his friend were gone, we drank the Captain Morgan shots and the Champagne. Her favorite movie used to be “Pretty Woman” and ever since then, she’s always had a thing for strawberries with Champagne. It was actually a lot of fun, and I got to spend the night, just like she said. Nothing happened, but we slept in the same bed and, at least to me, we felt close.

This morning, she sat and watched the sun rise from one of the windows and took a picture of it. Then we walked over to a downtown cafe and had a really good breakfast. Angie came by later to see the place and Ceecee talked to her like things would work out and we’d be back together soon. She talked about where “we” would keep “our bikes” and things like that. I can’t help being hopeful that maybe this will only be a couple of weeks and I’ll be moving in.

Tonight, we walked a couple of blocks over to a place where she got a tattoo. She’s wanted one for a long time, but never got one, mostly because of me. I’ve never liked them, and I always told her I didn’t like them and wouldn’t like one on her. Earlier this Spring, when she was telling me how unhappy she was, she said I was controlling and smothering her and that me not letting her get a tattoo was part of it.

After that, I told her that she could and that our marriage was more important than that, but she just said she would get one if she wanted to and that I didn’t have any say in it anymore. A while back, she came up with the idea of a sun in the middle of her back and had this shop work up a design. Tonight, she got it put on.

It hurt more than she thought it would, and I sat next to her and held her hands throughout. I kept trying to look into her eyes and communicate without words how much I loved her, but I don’t think she got it. There were other people in the shop and I kept wondering if any of the women could see and were wishing that they were loved like that and how ironic it all was.

Anyway, it was later in the evening when they got finished and Ceecee asked if I wanted to stay again. Of course I was all too eager. Once again, we didn’t do anything, but she let me hold her before we fell asleep and it seems like this won’t be so bad after all!

Facebook and social media is such a part of our lives today that it’s almost hard to remember being without it.  Of course, social networking can be a double-edged sword.  It’s great for connecting with people in today’s busy world.  It can also be a place where people air their dirty laundry, share too much information, and are victimized by predators.

While we were separated, my wife and I were both careful about what we posted on our Facebooks and for that I am grateful.  I understood that my wife wasn’t including me in her virtual life during that time, even though she never changed her relationship status from “married.”  She simply never responded to my posts, and didn’t interact with me online.

We had also been going to the gym separately, which was excruciating for me, especially when chance put us there at the same time.  I wanted her to want to work out with me, but instead she barely acknowledged me.  I respected her boundaries and didn’t push.  I understood why she was doing what she was doing and even though I didn’t like it, I took the unselfish road of loving her in the ways she would allow me to, and not trying to force anything.

Last August, in those first days of being back together, we were still figuring out where we stood with each other.  Of course, we went to the gym together then, but things were still awkward.  Even though my wife had dropped out of triathlon training, she had kept up her swimming and was constantly increasing her distance.  She would set goals for a certain number of laps and then raise the amount as she obtained each goal.

Ironically, she had never learned to swim as a youngster.  I took it for granted that my mother had taken us for swimming lessons every summer when I was a kid.  When we first started going to the pool together last Spring, I had to show her the strokes and convince her that she could do it.  At first, she couldn’t even do one lap.

Soon after she started swimming, we split up.  I only swam as much as I needed to for training, because I view the swim as a necessary evil of being a triathlete.  She found that swimming energized her and the water gave her a type of solace, so she began spending a lot of time in the pool.  After only about four months from when she began, she set her sights on two miles with no rest.

The morning she was going to attempt it, I started out in the pool with her.  It was going to take about two hours by her estimate, so I was only beside her for about the first thirty minutes.  At that point, I got out and went to run and do other things while she continued.

In our fitness center, there is an indoor track that has windows on one side overlooking the pool.  When I knew she had been swimming for more than 90 minutes, I began taking a look each time I came around.  At first she looked steady and strong, but as it approached an hour and 45 minutes, I could see that she was starting to struggle.  Her form was faltering and I could tell she was exhausted.

I decided to go down to the pool and I knelt by the edge of her lane.  She saw me and gave me a signal of how many laps she had left.  I stayed there and gave her encouragement each time she turned around.  When she finished, she hugged me.  It was the first time she had publicly shown that type of affection since we reconciled.  Then she posted on Facebook that she couldn’t have done it without me.

That was a breakthrough for us.  I don’t really know why, but somehow, her accomplishing that goal and me being there supporting her changed things.  Where she had been so reserved for so long, the floodgates opened.

A Toast?

Champagne is a universal drink of celebration, and she had planned her next tatoo as a celebration of swimming two miles.  The fact that it not only occurred right after we got back together, but also provided the catalyst to set her free to love me outwardly again made it a celebration of much more than just swimming endurance.  I’ll drink to that!

Wanting desperately to give your love to someone who isn’t returning it and won’t receive most of it is a perilous place to find yourself.  My wife wanted to be pursued, yes, but by a strong and capable man, not a weak, pathetic one.  There’s a fine line between lavishing love on the object of your affection and driving her away by crawling around at her feet.  I knew it was important that I navigate those waters correctly during our separation, which was why it was absolutely critical for me to get myself healthy. 

I spent a lot of time feeling pathetic and sorry for myself, but I did my best to keep this hidden while I worked on getting myself right and overcoming the obstacles in the path of our reconciliation.  I realized that my wife needed me to be someone who had something to bring to her, not someone who constantly needed something from her.  She needed a man, not a puppy, and I resolved to put aside my pain and be the man she needed before someone else took on that role.

After my wife got her first tattoo, I began to think about getting one.  My initial idea was to get the same design she got, but smaller, and in a different place.  My reasoning was that it would mean that I belonged to her; that we were bound to each other.  I also realized (thank God) that it would be exactly the type of weak, desperate move that would be more likely to make her despise me than feel drawn to me.  It would have been a permanent statement that I didn’t have enough self-worth to be my own man.

I kept the thought of a “tat” for myself on the back-burner, since I didn’t really have any idea what to get.  I figured that until it would really mean something, I wouldn’t pursue it.  Meanwhile, I was devouring books, websites, scriptures, and anything else I could find about love and romance.  I read and re-read the Song of Solomon, the Old Testament book that parallels married love with God’s love.  It really spoke to me, and one verse stood out in particular. 

Chapter six and verse three says, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” That became my verse, and I held onto it fiercely.  In chapter 8 and verse 6, it says, “Place me…like a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death.”  That sounded like a tattoo to me, despite the cheesy and highly questionable images of guys putting their girlfriends’ names in tattoos as a way of staking a claim, or showing off their “catch.”  I was determined not to do that, so I needed to figure out how to make this work.  The answer came in the most unlikely of places.

I had an app on my phone of love poems and quotes that I can hardly believe I am admitting to reading.  One day, I read the words, “Don’t put my name in a heart because a heart can be broken.  Put it in a circle because a circle goes on forever,” and just like that, I had it!  I sat down and sketched a circle with Song of Solomon 6:3 going all the way around it and my wife’s name in the middle. 

I shared the idea with our oldest daughter and a few close friends and they unanimously loved it.  I decided not to share it with my wife, though.  I figured that if we got back together, I would have it done, but until things were worked out between us, I wasn’t going to tell her.  I also felt that it was missing something, but couldn’t figure out what else it needed.  Eventually, when we got back together, my wife helped me decide on two interlaced wedding rings inside the circle with the nickname that I had made up for her. 

My permanent seal of love

Now she teases me that I’m stuck with her because I have that on my arm.  That’s kind of the idea, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

There is one major difference between auto restoration and restoring older homes.  When a car is being restored, it’s all about original parts.  The focus is on replacing worn out and damaged parts and making the finished product exactly like the original.  No changes, no artistic license.

It reminds me of an experience I had in Spain, during a luncheon sponsored by a winery.  We were served a traditional soup, but it had been made differently than it normally was.  Our host became quite upset and had an animated conversation with the waiter about why it hadn’t been made in the traditional way.  The people of southern Spain value tradition and are resistant to change.

I was all about change at this point in my life and my marriage.  Mostly, I needed to change myself.  I was going through the process of allowing myself to be changed by God, and also learning to change with the help of my therapist and others who I opened up to and accepted counsel from.  I was listening, and that was key. 

I had never realized that my wife felt smothered and controlled.  It was a case of an unintended consequence.  I always wanted to do things for her and help her, but I was unintentionally sending the message that I didn’t think she was capable or competent.  We also had an issue regarding something she wanted that I hadn’t thought was very important.  She had talked off and on for years about wanting a tattoo, and I had always told her that I didn’t like them and didn’t want her to get one. 

She had understood me to be forbidding her and now she was intent on getting one.  It was an opportunity for me to show her that things were different, and that I would love and accept her and allow her to make her own choices.  We looked at designs and chose a tatoo artist together.  I sat with her and held her hand through the entire application.  The tatoo artist never suspected that we were separated, and I hoped and prayed that my wife was receiving at least a little bit of the love that I was desperately trying to show her.

Sometimes, the restoration of a house involves making some changes.  There is a certain amount of updating that is not only acceptable, but often necessary.  A house that was originally built with no bathrooms and little or no electricity probably shouldn’t be restored to be exactly like it originally was.  So it was with our marriage. 

I was sharing the story of the vision with a colleague and friend one day and he made a most astute observation.  He said that it sounded like the original “house” was never entirely adequate.  He pointed out that it not only needed to be restored, it probably needed to be added on to.  He hit the nail right on the head.  Even though our marriage started out as a beautiful thing, there were aspects of it that had never been healthy.  The curb appeal was amazing, but underneath, it hadn’t been built right.

Not fighting my wife over her tatoo, but accepting it and being part of it was a tangible act that showed a change in the way I responded to her.  The tattoo itself was also something tangible that showed that her life was changing.  She had told our oldest daughter that if it was going to work out between us, I would have to love all of her.  If I couldn’t accept all of who she was, we couldn’t get back together.  What a person wears, the way they style their hair, or what they put on their skin isn’t who they are.  It’s just self-expression.  True love sees the person beneath the skin and listens to the heart.