By Melissa C. Dyer
God's Brave Women - Melissa's Story
Even as I pulled on the handle and timidly walked inside, I was surprised to find myself moving forward. Voluntarily choosing to brave the pain. It was my daughter who wanted a tattoo for her seventeenth birthday. I can’t remember exactly when I became her sidekick, but here I was, and there was no turning back now. Our tattoo artist’s name was Brittney and I was thankful another woman would be there to lead me through the process. I quickly confided in her my fear and admitted, “I avoid physical pain.” This little tattoo I was about to get would require me to be brave. Mostly because it was voluntary. Yes, I’ve endured much greater physical pain; I’ve birthed two children via cesarean section. I’ve had my wrist completely shattered and rebuilt – plates and screws included, and I live with chronic back pain from scoliosis. These are all examples of unavoidable pain, but this was different. Choosing to brave the pain is why getting a tattoo was so hard for me.
Thankfully, she disarmed my fear little by little until I slid myself onto the black vinyl chair. It was the length of my body and almost comfortable, had it not been for the inking process I would endure. The pain was tolerable and short in duration. And once we were both marked my daughter and I took some cute photos together and off they went – straight to Instagram. It only took a few seconds for the comments to flood in. One word became the headline of our whole experience. Edgy. I guess we did venture out that day with boldness.
Later, on our way home, it began to rain, and the steady beating of the windshield wipers sent my mind adrift somewhere else and I began thinking about tattoos. No one on my side of the family had tattoos, that is, except my sister. I had remembered she tattooed someone’s name to her arm. And that’s all it took to bring me back to a whole different kind of edgy, another place I had braved the pain...
The first time I pulled up to the detox center where she was under 24-hour care I noticed the 12-foot chain link fence outlining the perimeter right away. I was immediately on edge. The harsh metal division between my everyday ordinary life and this place communicated a lack of safety. Truth be told, I didn’t feel safe. That’s what can happen when broken people don’t brave their pain. They become unsafe to others. And there was no getting around the reality that she wasn’t safe, to herself or others, at this point.