This year has been so rough for me as I got a lot of traumatized experiences resurfaced. I learn about emotional hygiene this last two years. I used to repress my own emotions for years. I have discovered how to feel and accept my emotions bit by bit towards the beginning of the pandemic age.
This year, somehow, the past suppressed emotions flooded and it made me drown. I felt overwhelmed. The moment I put healthy boundaries and allowed people to go according to their paths is when I finally reclaimed my power. Reclaiming my power means allowing myself to respect my own journey. It also means allowing myself to acknowledge the different paths which people take. Sometimes, it’s normal that we want all the relationships we encounter in this life go hand-in-hand with each other. However, the life does not go like that. At times, it’s important that we meet people who shared certain path then we parted in order to respect our own trajectories. The spiritual journey help us to encounter these people because we are all here to learn together. Each one of us here is longing to strive to be a better person.
Parting different path from people sometimes is necessary as the relationships feel toxic if we force the unaligned paths to stay put together. Getting out from toxic relationships is a lonely path and excruciatingly painful experience because reclaiming power did not seem to be strong for me. It left me fragile and vulnerable as everything was ripped away from me. Toxic relationships made me disrespect my own boundaries and my power got stolen. That is why reclaiming my power made me so frail and hurt. It’s an important way to learn how the way I take my journey of being an authentic self.
After having such experiences, I want to picture this journey through the last tattoo I pierced on my skin. I thought of white flowers and, at first, what came to my mind was a lotus. After reading some articles, I’d love to put the lotus on my thigh. Then, I discussed with a friend of mine from India, Karan.
Karan, quotes the historical monk figure of India, Swami Vivekananda from his works that lotus represents spiritual detachment and the ability to renounce for the greater good. The quote goes as “Just as water cannot wet the lotus leaf, so work cannot bind the unselfish man by giving rise to attachment to results.” The lotus leaf in a spiritual context speaks about the spiritually desired path that is to be chosen over other paths just like the lotus grows among the mud but retains its purity and beauty uniquely. He told me that if I put in the lower part of my body, it seems disrespectful. He suggested to put the tattoo on the upper part of the body. He gave me an advice to use something that resembled my Indonesian identity.
At first, I thought about peony flowers but somehow I think I need a truly Indonesian flowers which Indonesians know it’s the Indonesianest flowers there are. I thought of jasmine at first but I was kinda freaked out by the idea of sudden fragrance of white jasmine in the middle of the night. In our Javanese belief, when we smell jasmine fragrance all of sudden, it means a spirit is nearby. Then, I choose orchid. It doesn’t have any smell and beautiful! Indonesians have 3 puspa bangsa — national flowers. The first is jasmine, the second is orchid, and the third is Rafflesia arnoldi. After searching the flowers design, I took a rest.
I told my idea to Adis, my roommate, we’ve been good friends since I was in college. She said to me,”Wait, didn’t you check your birth flowers?”
In our traditional Javanese astrology, everyone has their own signature flowers according to their birthday. We use different calendar system which is using 30 wuku (star), 5 pasaran (traditional day) and 7 Gregorian days. The day in Javanese astrology starts at the dusk. So, for example, today (Monday March 14th) at 6 PM, we already call it Tuesday night. If a baby was born at 8 PM, the baby will have wuku Dukut, Selasa (Tuesday) Kliwon. Kliwon is the pasaran. The flowers would be jasmines, white lily, gladiolus, adiantum, scorpion orchid, red rose, crown princess Margareta rose, and gardenia. The flowers have to arouse the enthusiasm (perhaps that’s because of Mars day!).
My signature flowers needs to give me glory and spark my imagination such as jasmine, orchid, agave amica (locally it’s called sedap malam or sweetness of night), and gardenia. The flowers has to be white and fragrant. Adis laughed at me because I avoided the kind of fragrant flowers because I freaked out of the wild sudden fragrance in a random night. Since my birth flowers (orchids) were confirmed, I decided to put the tattoo on my skin.
On the same day I also removed my first tattoo on my hand. The procedure is using laser beams to break apart the tattoo ink. The tattoo removal was soooooo painful as it felt like I was pierced by fire needles. If someone told me that I needed to remove my tattoos, they need to try on their hand first. That procedure BURNSSSS
Kak Riris, or I call her Kak Yiyis, an internet friend who becomes a real friend later since we met in Semarang, asked me why I chose orchids for my tattoo. I told the meaning was that the flowers resemble my signature birth flowers. Moreover, ochids are special flowers, this puspa bangsa has deeper meaning for my personal trajectory in this life. Orchids resembles emerging beauty out of mere trash. They are saprophytes — consume unused debris. This national flowers emerge beauty out of decayed materials. Orchids are the metaphor of the beginning of love, glory and blessings after the decayed path that I refused to take. As I left a dead relationship, I hope to cherish, fluorish and adorn the current path that I have taken. She told me that she has visited the orchid museum yet she just found out the profound meaning of orchids from my explanation. I was shrieking in joy reading her chat. To me, my friends are the real blessings of my current journey.
To all my friends, the current and the past ones, thank you for crossing by and grow together in our aligned paths. If someday, or perhaps now, we realize that we have unaligned paths, let’s respect the ways and continue our own journeys. I hope we can embrace our unique paths despite the heart breaks we endured by the time of the realization. The grief might hinders our so-called productivity but it’s one of the ingredients we need to grow our orchids. Let’s adorn our own paths with gratitude. Thank you for growing with me. If someday, or even now, we realized that we outgrow each other, always remember, this is necessary as our unaligned paths create wonderful journey loom in this universe.