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Three years ago, I finally escaped from my personal prison. Previous attempts to get out had failed, with promises of positive change and an empty bank account usually the culprits behind it. This time though, I knew it was a success. I knew I would finally be free again. I knew it was really and truly over. I’ve written many times about what I went through with my ex but I won’t waste additional space on it here. This is about me. About who I am. About who I will always be.

Since that fateful day, I’ve spent my time rebuilding my life. I rediscovered myself. I healed. I left a job that I hated. I started living again. The last year in particular has seen many positive and unexpected changes. I joined a group where I’ve met some of the most wonderful people. I proudly call them friends now. I met someone special who reminded me just how much I have to offer another person. Even though things didn’t work out the way either of us might’ve liked, I don’t regret a minute of it. She will always hold a special place in my heart and memory. And even through the disappointment, I stand tall and carry on.

I got my first tattoo last year. It reminds me of the qualities I possess that saw me through dark and difficult times. I got my second tattoo today. It is a mark of the day my life began again. It reminds me of who I am, who I’ve always been, and who I’ll always be.

Once again, I looked to the Celts to provide me with inspiration. I’m also a big fan of symmetry and thought it would be good to have both shoulders in the same theme. I picked the oak tree and the corresponding letter symbol, Duir. Together, they symbolize strength, stability, wisdom, and loyalty.

Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the qualities that we each possess. It’s often only when we are tested by our demons or trials or failures or disappointments that we are reminded. Deep down, I knew I was a strong and stable person, but I forgot it. When someone is repeatedly telling you that you’re weak and ugly and stupid and worthless, you start to believe it. You have to get away from the noise and ugliness and insults to gather yourself. To listen to your own voice. To remember who you really are.

I know I have wisdom that serves me well, even if much of it was acquired through many difficult situations. And sometimes I forget this wisdom because my ego gets in the way, but eventually it rises to the top. I have been and always will be loyal to those in my life. When you find people you can connect with, I believe you do everything possible to maintain that connection. I know that sometimes life happens and relationships end, but I will always fight until the very end. I know I have the strength and stability to stand on my own through any storm, much like the oak tree. I might sway and lose a few branches, but I survive and come back even stronger.

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