this is a tatto design i did based on this beautiful story from andrea:
(TW: ABUSE TW: ANIMAL CRUELTY)
Over the years my family had over 27 snakes (everything from a 13ft burmese python to a sinolan milksnake), 2 or 3 dogs, a pot-belly pig, a tarantula, a tortoise, an alligator, various fish and birds, and a shed outside that was full of cages of rats and mice (food for the snakes). My father taught me about animals and was constantly filling me with information. My father used to take some of the snakes and our alligator to elementary schools, he’d teach the kids about the science of reptiles and then let the brave ones touch them. He was so enthusiastic about the whole thing. It was really encouraging and inspired me to take a deeper interest as well.
I had been welcomed to watch feeding time from a very early age and didn’t think of the rats and mice as anything other than snake food. This was probably my first introduction to the concept of death, and though it was sometimes brutal, it didn’t seem strange. At first, I was only interested in rats in regard to timing how quickly I could snatch them up by the tails. But curiosity had me spending more and more time in the shed with them. I found out how smart they were pretty quickly, and how friendly they could be. I even taught one of them to do tricks. And it really created a moral dilemma for me. I didn’t want them to die anymore and I didn’t think it was fun to watch. I think I just hadn’t realized that they were just as alive and any of the other animals we had, and for that matter, just as alive as I was… but I think that last bit came to me a bit slower than the first.
It’s hard to explain, but I think that’s when I started realizing that my father had an obsession, not an enthusiasm. I found out later that he had been trading our pets for things like computer and stereo equipment, or other, more exotic pets. Once he had them, they were only commodities again. I’d come home some days and there would be something new or something missing. The pets we had were constantly changing. I don’t remember anything dying of old age. He was always excited when he would bring home something new, and I shared his enthusiasm, but he got bored quickly and became negligent. For example, he once brought home 3 piranhas because he thought they were neat. Once the novelty was over, and he realized that they only really liked to eat fresh raw meat and that was gong to be expensive, he let them eat each other. (This was one of many things I learned later, because I was too young to really see what was going on) He spent money adding to his collections instead of feeding my sister and I, and was often pawning my mother’s things. He was also physically abusive to my mother and I (when I tried to defend her). He was very wise, if you ignored his contradictions and he was very happy and enthusiastic if you were unaware of his hidden anger. These were things I came to understand slowly, because like anyone my father still had plenty of positive qualities..
So I always wanted to a tattoo of a rat to symbolize those first important lessons about life, death and how to reason, instead of accepting things as they are presented to me. I feel like those discoveries really lead me to start understanding the subtleties of abuse in many of its forms. ”
i was extremely honored to design this tattoo. write me at email@example.com if you want a tattoo or a tattoo design by me. xx