One of the questions I get asked the most is “what does the tattoo on your arm mean?”. While I can answer it in one sentence, that doesn’t even begin to explain what it means to me. So for those of you who have been wondering, I am about to tell her full story, in the most detail I have ever told.
Before I start, just in case you haven’t seen it, this is the tattoo I’m talking about:
Her name is Megara, and she’s been with me for as long as I can remember.
I have always had a very vivid and fantastical imagination. So vivid that long ago, I used to see the creations of my imagination in real life. One of these beings was a forest nymph named Megara. Megara was my age, and my imaginary friend, if you wish to call it that. Every night when I went to bed, I would escape from the real world and enter a magical world which I saw through her eyes. She was a little girl, entrusted as the forest guardian, even though she was barely 5 years old. This forest was a special forest, where all the animals lived in harmony under her protection. Megara was gifted a beautiful wooden bow and arrows from the forest spirit in order to protect the magical realm she lived in. She spent most of her days exploring with her wolf companion, having fun and playing with the other animals in the forest, or washing her beautiful long hair in the crystal clear river.
As I got older, so did she. As I changed, so did she. I remember it clearly, the day she first got her antlers. It was just after I had moved back to South Africa, aged 12. She had to protect the forest from a swarm of hunters who came to kill everything in their path. It was horrible. Many of her animal companions were killed. But in the end she was victorious. As a reward for her loyalty to the forest and its creatures, the forest spirit granted her antlers – then only two small stumps protruding from her head that looked quite silly. They got larger and more beautiful over the years, as did she.
As I went through hellish teenage years with the worst kind of loneliness and even worse “friends”, she was always there. She gave me strength at my darkest time and was the only thing keeping me alive for quite some time when I thought I had nothing to live for. And then, suddenly, she was gone.
I couldn’t understand why. I lost my ability to dream. It was as if she had abandoned me, and eventually as if she had never existed. In hindsight, I know that it was due to the medication I was put on – I was wrongly diagnosed with bipolar and heavily medicated to the point of being nothing more than a zombie. For years, I had to find another way to cope with my struggles. Then one day, she returned to me, older than she was than she left – matching my age as she always had. I know now that this was because I had stopped my medication, and was finally a happier person than I’d been in a long time. While I don’t dream often, I still see her when I close my eyes. I can travel back to her world as I used to in my youth and escape from my troubles.
For a long time I wanted to commemorate her return by getting a tattoo of her as she is now – in her most beautiful state. It took years for someone to finally draw her correctly. Unfortunately I can’t draw and it’s not that easy to explain how someone’s facial features look. But finally she was drawn precisely as she is, and I got her permanently inked onto my skin, so that she will always be with me wherever I go.
In December, I decided to do a photoshoot where I could become her for a day. Sadly I didn’t have antlers or ears exactly like hers, but it was close enough. I’m so happy with how the photos came out!
I hope you have enjoyed these photos and my story of my tattoo.