Prior to my first deployment to Iraq I was still held in the thralls of religion and was questioning it without much in-depth research or analysis. In response I felt like I was sinning for my attempt to step away from God so in an attempt to convince myself that I was still a true believer I went out and got two tattoos on my right forearm.
At a time when my cognitive dissonance was at its highest I tried to ignore the rumblings of reason and opted to cling to my errant beliefs in a supreme being.
So I figured out that tattoos are actually permanent. Fucking bummer, right?! One bad decision that’s going to last me a lifetime. It’s very unfortunate I made the decision to get these tattoos. Had I delayed only 3 or 4 months I never would have gotten them at all.
Needless to say when I’ve shown up to freethought events I’ve gotten some odd looks due to my tattoos but I’ve been pretty well received…especially once I announce Rock Beyond Belief II. Even beyond that I have found individuals at these events to be much more open to accepting me than I have some of the churches I have visited, though not all of them.
I looked into removing the tattoo but it’s going to cost me somewhere in the $3000 range to get rid of them both. As much as I wish I had that much cash lying around to waste on tattoo removal it just doesn’t seem prudent considering long sleeves can temporarily fix the problem while I continue to pay my bills.
Unfortunately there are new regulations concerning tattoos in the Marines that prohibit me from getting additional tattoos. I have been grandfathered in without any repercussions but can get no further tattoos and expect to stay in service so I have decided to take my bulk issue of straws and “suck it up.”
It’s a good thing I never got any tattoos that I would completely regret such as a girlfriend’s name or a drunken adventure. Although I have altered my beliefs on the afterlife (and the current one) I am not ashamed to have once been a believer. But I do feel it is my duty to rebut the claims they make upon the case for morality in the world. I am proud to have always taken a stand for whatever it is I have believed in…whether it be my inaccurate and ridiculous belief in a supernatural being, my patriotism to serve my country, the honor of voluntarily deploying to combat, or the intellectual pursuits to which I now devote my life I will not regret that I have lived and followed a path that has led me to where I now am. That includes the permanent mistakes I have made; the friendships forged and lost, the scarring of my body, the experiences that brought me to understanding compassion, and the memories I shall hold always.
Besides…I never got one of these.