I get very similar reactions to mine.
When I was eleven, already drowning myself in books in an attempt to distract myself from what was already burgeoning depression and social isolation, I played Kingdom Hearts for the first time. It struck me in a way that nothing had before, and nothing really has since; that sense of light in the deepest darkness, of intense storytelling and music and intertwining stories and loyal friendship and self-sacrifice and unending hope, that all was so incredible to me at that age.
It changed my life. It changed how I looked at storytelling, helped me realize that maybe I could actually write if I wanted to, that the stories in my head were worth communicating.
Ten years ago I wanted this as a brand, to show that I was different from others, that I was a monster not worth communicating with, because that was truly how I felt. Even at eleven, my sense of self-worth was in the toilet. I was an outcast and didn’t understand that my behavior had to do with my upbringing and the burden of depression, and so thought I was just broken. A monster. Heartless.
Then I grew up. I somehow survived high school (it was a close thing, believe me) and went on to college. I got help for the first time, and names for my issues. My favorite color changed from violent red to softer blue, like the thorned crosses of the tattoo (although you can’t really tell from the picture.) I became healthier.
I’m not a perfect person, and will never be. But I do my best to reach out to others and do everything I can, so I can make a difference and won’t be alone at the end of the day.
Because I’ve changed. Like the Heartless of the game, I’ve been irrevocably changed by events in my life- but that doesn’t mean I’m dead, and it doesn’t mean I can’t recover. My friends and family are my power, and my heart. As long as I remember that, as long as this tattoo is here to remind me, I’ll keep being who I am.
If you don’t understand that, that’s just fine. Because this is my body and my tattoo and my life, and you have no say.