Cody once worked with a guy who removed his wedding ring depending on the type of customer he was serving. Cody and I both thought it was pretty smarmy and gross (and we still do), but we didn’t know much about marriage at the time—we were wee babes ourselves.
After our own vows and rings were exchanged, I remember going to a wedding reception when Cody forgot his ring. I flew into a crying fit in the parking lot “HOW WILL ANYONE KNOW WE’RE MARRIED! PEOPLE WILL THINK WE’RE JUST ENGAGED! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?”
You could say I was passionate about wedding rings.
Over the years a number of different things made wearing rings difficult: basketball, gaining weight, having babies, going to the gym, and swimming. There were even times we would go on vacation and both opt to leave our rings behind “just in case.”
By this point, we knew we were married and it didn’t really matter if he was marked with a gold band or not. (One thing I’ve learned over the last 14 years is people don’t often care if someone is wearing a ring or not. Keep it classy, society.) So while our rings hold enormous sentimentality and symbolism, neither of us will forget we’re married without them.
Back in 2009, when I went through Lupron hell, I was lost.
Gone. Completely messed up in every area of my life. I felt completely abandoned by Cody and my own brain as well. When Cody and I decided to stay together, I had this intense need to drown out the emotional pain I felt from the previous six months and in some way show Cody how dedicated I was to making our marriage work.
So I got his name tattooed on my butt.
But I did get a tattoo. One that has an even deeper meaning to me than a ring.
Rings can be lost, stolen, left behind, and removed when the situation desires. Tattoos are there forever.
I didn’t tell Cody I was getting one and later, I sent him a picture with a message that said “I’m sorry, but I had to do this for me.” (He was totally anti-tattoo at the time, not only for religious reasons, but he’s also terrified of needles.)
A week later he came out to see me at my parent’s house and he asked me about getting the tattoo.
I told him that the painful stinging and buzzing of getting tattooed was actually a welcome sensation compared to all the other awful emotions I’d been feeling recently. Later that night, he pulled me aside and took off his shirt to reveal the exact same tattoos on his own shoulders.
We went together.
If you were to put us in a group of a million other people, you would know we go together.
That is an intensely intimate and comforting feeling, something no ring will ever be able to encompass or represent. Someone the other night commented on the fact that I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring in an Instagram photo and she thought, perhaps, my marriage was in trouble.
But what you can’t see in the photo are my shoulders, my shoulders that match Cody’s.
Our tattoos link us forever, no matter what happens. They’re not flashy or showy but they’re deeply meaningful—not only for what they represent but for the season of life in which we both got them.
So that’s why you won’t always see me with a wedding ring. While I may wear my heart on my sleeve, I wear the love for my husband in ink on my shoulders.
PS: What do the tattoos mean? If you ever saw Ghost, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore said ‘ditto’ instead of ‘I love you.’ Loce is our ditto.
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Casey Mullins is a vintage blogger, storyteller, and mental illness combatant.
This article was originally published at http://mooshinindy.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.