My Semicolon Tattoo
A writer uses a semicolon when they could have ended their sentence with a period, but paused and continued on. The writer is you, and the sentence to be continued is your life.
On April 16, 2013, thousands of people joined together to raise public awareness against depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Just like that, “The Semicolon Project” was born.
Papa Roach has a song titled “Scar.” My favorite verse is: “my scars remind me that the past was real.” Yes, I have scars from cutting myself with all kinds of things. I’ve been to hell and back a bunch of times, but it wasn’t until I was 40 years old that the pain inside me became unbearable, and I started to cut. It started in places that my clothes would cover. Eventually, everything became fair game. I share this very personal story not for sympathy or attention but because it’s part of my life. When others noticed my scars, the questions were always the same:
“Doesn’t it hurt?”
“Did you want to die?”
“Promise me you won’t ever do that to yourself again”
Why?Because the pain on the inside was too much to bear. The slight sting of the deepest cut was the only thing that created enough of a distraction, which became an outlet and release for the emotional pain living on the inside of my soul. Saying it out loud sounds ridiculous but, in the moment, it was effective.
Does it hurt? It hurt the people that care about me more than it hurt me. It’s not about blaming anyone, more like the emotional pain was intense. Not even a coma could make it go away. Cutting was the one thing that worked, on every level.
Did you want to die? NO! I did NOT want to die. In fact, afterwards, as I would blot away the blood, a weird sense of panic flooded my consciousness! While I inspected each cut, I hoped that none were deep enough to require stitches or deep enough that I would appear suicidal. For me it wasn’t self-hatred, or to hurt myself; I was already hurting, and it was about releasing that pain.
What I heard most often was,“Promise me you’ll never do that again.” This is the statement that leaves me speechless. I don’t like to make promises I can’t keep. I don’t intend to indulge in this behavior, but I can only promise to take it one day at a time, stay committed to therapy, and learn healthy coping skills. So far, it’s been working. I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be! I’ve learned to live in the moment, and good or bad, this too shall pass. I open my mouth and the “big book” of AA comes rushing out when I need it the most! As usual, I thank God for every slogan and phrase that make recovery from ALL THINGS possible!
Each month that passes, my scars fade a little more, but they are forever a part of my intentionally scarred body. This semicolon tattoo isn’t so much to remind meto pause, but to let the world know I’ve been there, and I understand. It opens the door to anyone who asks about its significance, and it may be the conversation that makes the difference between life and death. If I can make a difference in just one person’s life, my little tattoo has served its purpose.