Ever since I can remember, my 18 year old daughter Carly has been decorating her body. It started when she was just 18 months old when she decided to paint herself with mud. I should say wallow in it because she was covered from head to toe. It did not stop there. She continued her decorating experiment with makeup. By age 2, Carly was painting her face with eye shadow, blush and lipstick. When I say, paint, I mean applying it with such vim and vigor that it created a clown like affect. She reveled in it.
Carly went on to experiment with magic markers. Many a day she would be covered with sayings and drawings. It was exasperating, yet so endearing. It was a constant struggle to keep my flower-child on the right path.
Body paint came next and she even tested out nail polish when I was not looking. That was indeed a memorable event. We ended up in the emergency ward because Carly had gotten it in her eyes. I distinctly remember when we walked through the doors. The horror on the nurses faces! She looked like she was covered in blood. That’s right, it was bright red nail polish. Oy vey! Stickers, washable tattoos and henna tattoos, Carly has tried it all. I was able to hold off the permanent tattoo because I outright refused to sign the permission slip. Her step-father Isaac was dead set against it too. “It’s permanent, and she is to young” he said.
No matter what I did, Carly has always seemed to be one step ahead. Always in a hurry and very head-strong. Her grandma Marlene would say to me, “Sharon, this one will give you a run for your money, teach her without breaking her spirit.” Her words have come back to haunt time and time again. Carly also has some wonderful strengths, she is intelligent, independent, funny, loyal, emotional, deep feeling, intuitive and thoughtful. She is a wonderful mixture, full of personality and style.
Lately Carly has been going through many difficult changes. She is graduating this year from high school, and will be on her way to University of Delaware in August. She is happy, excited, fearful and anxious. These are all very normal emotions, and can be a roller coaster ride. Carly has also just ended a 3 year relationship with her boyfriend. A relationship that was well balanced and filled with fun. Unfortunately as they grew up, they grew apart. Her sadness is deep, and her heart hurts. Different yet similar to divorce, a living death. The precarious balance of calm tipped over. The roller coaster ride took a huge dive.
Last week, on a chaotic emotional whim Carly finally decided to get her tattoo. I found out through a text message while I was at a convention. “Mom, I am at the tattoo parlor and I am getting “serenity” tattooed on my shoulder.” Here it was. She finally has decided to make her body art permanent. Oy vey once again.
When I got home Carly was in her room so I quietly went in to talk to her. She was all excited to show it to me. I asked her why she did it. She said, “Mom, I have lost my serenity so I needed to tattoo it on my body so it is permanently with me.” Personally, I thought she could just get a nice sign.
A week went by and I asked Carly if she had found her serenity. She said, “No mom, it’s still not there.” I said well look over your shoulder and you can see it. She looked at me with her sad eyes, then glanced over her shoulder and cracked a smile for the first time in days.
Then I told my daughter something she already knows. Serenity always comes from within. As I said those words, it hit me. Carly must have known it all along. She tattooed it on herself as a permanent reminder. She did it in just the right place. It’s on her shoulder. How much clearer can it be. Serenity is always right here with us. When we feel that we have lost it, all we need to do is glance back, and we can see it, right over our shoulder. What a profound moment. I then gave Carly a hug and told her that the serenity will come.
Just the other day I asked my daughter how her heart was feeling. She said, “Mom, it’s ok. I decided to take care of myself just like I am taking care of my tattoo. I am doing healthy things to not open the wound so the scab can really heal.” Carly has started to find her serenity.
How do you find your serenity?