My new tattoo.
Some people are surprised to learn that I have 6 tattoos (And counting!). They’re mostly small and in locations I can easily conceal, but they’re there nonetheless. You don’t get to know what they all are, or where they all are. Sorrynotsorry. However, there is one tattoo particular I want to discuss. My newest one.
I got this tattoo on the day of my son’s diagnosis. It was not an easy day for any of us. I chose to go forward with getting it that specific day because it was the final straw for me. I needed this tattoo. Sounds dramatic right, NEEDING a tattoo? Well, this particular ink has been planned in my head for a few years. I like to think on my tattoos. Really stew on them. But then I got the catalyst to go and Get. It. Done.
So what is it, you ask? Let me explain.
To the naked eye, it is a semi-colon in a splat of blue. Simple, right? To me, it is so much more than that. A semicolon has taken off in the mental health world because it is a symbol for choosing to continue when you could have ended. By definition, a semicolon is ‘A point where the author could have ended the sentence but chose not to.’ It got its birth in the tattoo world for those who lost someone to suicide or was suicidal. I have both reasons.
Another way to look at a semi-colon is that it is a pause between two points. It is that brief moment of reflection where you choose to stop or continue. It reminds me to be mindful. When I am having my own mental storm, I can look at my wrist and pause. I get to choose what comes next. It’s a powerful reminder of mindset.
Yet another way the semi-colon is meaningful to me is that it symbolizes ‘this is not the end, there is more to come’. Which is another daily reminder I need. I kept saying that to myself once we left the psychologists office on diagnosis day. ‘This is not the end for him, there is more to come.’
One more thing about the semi-colon. Anyone can stab a period on a paper. It’s a violent act by nature. We can all slam doors, shut people out, or simply walk away. It takes a lot of grace to continue when things get hard. Especially when it’s yourself you’re battling with. Look at the semicolon. There is a sharp, abrupt point within the period, but then, as an afterthought or not, there is a comma added below. A sweet, slightly curved line that takes grace to make and grace to accept. I am not perfect. But I CAN add a comma under all the ‘periods’ in my life. I can choose to go on when things get hard or I make mistakes. I can go back and give myself some grace.
And the blue? Let’s talk about that blue. It’s a splat, like when you drop a wet towel or raw meat on the floor. The juices go flying and there’s a mess to clean up. The blue signifies the mental health struggles that were thrust on my son and me. It’s messy, but we can make it beautiful if we try, I put the semicolon in the splat, because it is my response to this mess we deal with. Why is it blue? Because that’s my son’s favorite color. At least it was on the day I got it.
So that’s my new tattoo. It means quite a lot to me and explaining all of that comes from a very vulnerable place. It’s not easy to talk about these things. Which brings me to the placement of my tattoo. It is on my left wrist, where I can see it every day, but also where other people can see it too. We need to start talking about mental health, and not just in the empty platitudes kind of way. Suffering a mental disorder is a grueling and dehumanizing thing. We need to make it more human. So let’s talk about it more, without shame. Can we do that?
Until my next tattoo adventure, visit me on Pinterest to see what I’m considering.