by Olivia Pennelle, of Liv’s Recovery Kitchen
I entered recovery on 26 March 2012, utterly defeated. Those early days were full to the brink of meetings, coffee, cake and sleep. I swung between mania and darkness. In my infinite wisdom, ten days sober (!), I decided to get a tattoo in a prominent place to remind me of my sobriety. I was proud at my achievement: ten days sober - the longest ever to that point. What better tattoo than an AA symbol on my left wrist?!
I recall my sponsor at the time looking shocked and exclaiming, "Wow, Liv, that’s big!"
I don’t regret the tattoo, it was part of my journey, but I now prefer something a little more subtle. Unfortunately, to cover it up the symbol on my left wrist would mean a really big tattoo. So I opted for laser treatment. Ouch. In my attempts to get it covered up, I stumbled across a picture of a hummingbird tattoo that Robin Williams’ daughter had placed on her thumb, in his memory. She said something like every time she shook someone’s hand, she would remember her father. I loved that. For me, it was representative of recovery; an animal of joy, agile, light and free. But also fearless and courageous – despite its size – it has great adaptability, flexibility and strength. This is how I aspire to be in my recovery. I went ahead and had it tattooed on my right wrist.
Then I had the bug. I wanted another and I wanted it BIG! So I decided on a peony, on my foot. I absolutely adore this tattoo. Known as the ‘king of flowers’ in China, a peony is popular in traditional tattoo designs and are known as a symbol of peace, happiness and romance. They are also an omen of love, prosperity and good fortune. It took four hours and hurt like hell. But it looks amazing.
I love both tattoos. When I look at them, not only are they beautiful, they have deep meaning to me and forever remind me of my journey in recovery: of the need for love, lightness, flexibility and courage.
And I’m not done yet...
About Olivia Pennelle
Olivia keeps herself busy interviewing people living in long-term recovery, and running her knockdown awesome website Liv's Recovery Kitchen. This past year has presented a range of emotions and challenges to her; and she has grown exponentially. One thing she's learned more than anything recently, is her determination. She truly set out to change herself physically, but what she didn't expect is an emotional and spiritual change. Transformation is all encompassing. She lives and works in Manchester, England in the UK.