Sunday, March 27, 2016

; to the unfinished sentence

Image description: a drawing of a semi colon surrounded by a blue sky

I saw a woman with an odd tattoo on her wrist. It was a semi colon. She noticed me glance at it and then asked me if I knew what it meant. I told her that it was yet another grammatical marking that I don't really understand how and when to use. I asked her, while she was still laughing, if she was a grammar nerd. Then she got serious. She told me that the tattoo wasn't about grammar but it was about deciding, in a dark moment, to continue with life. I asked her what she meant. She said that there was a movement, the semi colon movement to support people who deal with depression and with suicidal thoughts and with addiction, "I can quote you exactly from their website, 'A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.'"

I went home and I found the information on a website called Project Semi Colon. I am someone easily captivated by symbols. I love the power of symbols and I believe that symbols can create movements and topple dictators. This symbol, grabbed me, it took hold of my heart. Because I understood it.

I sat at my computer looking at pictures of people with semi colon tattoos, which are growing in popularity. I could have one. I could wear one. One day I might. I remember the dark teen aged years, growing into adulthood and full awareness that I carried a secret, horrible secret, a secret that if discovered would have me killed, if not by my peers, by my family, if not by them, by my own hand. I was terrified. Through school learning came hard because I lived with fear. Fear of exposure.

There were many moments. But the most vivid is being down by the river with a heavy rock in my hand. I sat there trying to figure how to knock myself out and fall in the river afterwards. Luckily, and thank God, I have a sense of humour, because the ridiculous pictures that formed in my head lead me to laugh out loud, I had devised perhaps the worst method of suicide that a klutz could try. There were other moments. With pills in hand. With a speeding car and an approaching tree. But at every one of those moments,  I decided not to end the sentence. I decided that my story was not yet fully told.

I could not imagine a future at all, let alone the future that I have. I could not imagine being loved. I could not imagine doing work that was fulfilling and rewarding. I could not imagine going to work and being respected. I could not imagine the world getting any better.

But it did.

In a small way, it did.

I still live in a world where my weight and my disability and my sexuality make me a target for bullies and bigots and brutalizers. I still live in a world where people feel free to diminish me and denigrate me. I still live in that world. But I live in the world differently. I have resources. I have tools. I have strategies for living. I know how to be in a world which would have me 'not to be.'

I am loved, yes,

But, I am stronger too.

I am resourceful.

And because of that lovely, lovey ';' the story goes on.


Elizabeth said...

And I'm so very glad that it does! You make my life richer by sharing your experiences through this blog. Thank you so much!

Frank_V said...

Beautifully written. Love you Dave!

Liz McLennan said...

A quiet, love letter to begin the day. Thanks for being here to write it.

Unknown said...

I've often thought about getting a tattoo, but have not had a certain idea of what symbol or phrase i would choose. i did not know the meaning of the semi colon tattoo....something to consider. and I'm glad you are here, Dave. Clairesmum

Shan said...

I hope it won't come across as too flippant when I say that the semicolon symbol is also used as a sort of gallows humour for Crohn's patients, especially if they've had a resection! You can buy Crohn's semicolon t-shirts...which I think are brilliant.

And I think it's worth noting that in old books, suicide is sometimes referred to as 'putting a period to one's existence'.