This piece was initially written on July 16th, 2018, the day after having my rose cover-up tattoo done; it was taken down for a while, and then republished on this website on July 15, 2020.
CW: mental illness, self-harm, suicidal ideation
Remember the good old semicolon tattoo I got done back in July 2015?
Well, it’s gone.
Don’t worry, folks — it’s not like I’m not aware that I’m still mentally ill. I didn’t wake up yesterday morning and imagine that part of me away or anything.
It’ll probably always be there with me [because science/sad poetic metaphor], and it’ll always play some type of a role in who I am and who I eventually grow up to be.
However, my game plan is to ensure that I always find a way for these painful [and honestly irritating] afflictions of mine to contribute my self-betterment.
I mean, why shouldn’t it? It’s turned me into someone who fights my ass off every single day of my life — battling my inner demons has become as natural to me as breathing. That totally sucks in retrospect, but someday, I’m going to be so freaking strong for it!
I’d consider that a silver lining if I wasn’t such a rose gold loving lady myself.
But anyhow — yes, I’m still proud of myself for pushing forward and always being my own knight in shining armor. Just because that semicolon is now [very skillfully] covered up (shoutout to New Breed Tattoos for giving me the splendid semicolon tattoo that stayed with me for three insane years of my life — my cover-up had everything to do with me craving a different, non-semicolon tattoo, and absolutely nothing to do with the high quality of your artists’ absolutely amazing work), doesn’t mean it’ll ever truly be erased from my person.
It’s still there [even if it’s buried under a ridiculous amount of ink]. It’ll always be there, just like all the things that led to me getting it done in the first place.
Anyways, I went and got a cover-up tattoo over my semicolon last night (July 15, 2018). It’s a pretty rad new look, to be completely honest — it’s a highly elegant rose, and it came out beautifully.
My tattoo artist for the day (Denny Waldron of Heirloom Tattoo & Piercing) even nailed some good, old school goth vibes in there for me, as requested. I know I tend to make everything gothilicious in my mind, but seriously — take my word on this one.
Denny even said, “Don’t worry, I’ll make this rose look really mean for you.” What more could a little ol’ Queen of Darkness ask for?
Not much, sir.
So, my standard, tiny, back-of-the-neck semicolon is no more.
1. Let me go ahead and get the aesthetic-inspired reason straight out of the way — the lack of symmetry at the very top of my spine bugs me, I feel like I wasted that area with a tattoo that could’ve gone literally anywhere else on my body, and it’s a bit too low on my neck for me. I always imagined myself with a medium to large, elegant something back there that shouted from the rooftops when I put my hair up. The tiny semicolon just didn’t do that for me.
2. I’ve grown since I got that semicolon tattoo three years ago. And guess what? That’s perfectly healthy. There’s a lot of unnecessary pressure to stick by your tattoo forever, but there’s nothing wrong with doing what you need to do to be happy with the ink on your body.
These days, I want a different symbol of strength there to represent me. I want that area of me to represent something more active about my survival story. I am so proud of what the semicolon demonstrated, and I’m even prouder of everyone who resonates with it — it’s a wonderful symbol with a blessed following.
But, for me, personally, it feels like a passive symbol of my strength.
I’m not a defender — I’m a fighter.
I’m active; I dive headfirst into battle. Therefore, it only makes sense that I wanted something which says, “I am fierce and unrelenting. Come at me, bro.”
I think a rose says just that. Roses are powerful, courageous, and beautiful. Dare to touch one of these beauties, and you’ll find that their thorns will stab you and have that “lifeblood” gushing out of you in seconds. Roses are so proactive about their survival [and I’ve always really dug that about them]. Like a rose, I am my own savior.
It’s also important to note that roses thrive in darkness — check out anything Victorian Gothic, or ~supposedly~ “creepy” in general, and you’ll probably find the happiest, most gorgeous roses in attendance there. Roses remind me of myself in that way too — those environments are where I feel most at ease, and the most like myself. I find strength in dark aesthetics.
3. My glorious semicolon can go elsewhere on my body! It can even go somewhere where I can see it, and maybe I can even give it some cute little cat ears! Anytime I feel myself sinking, I can actually see it and remember that I’m a sentence that could’ve ended on numerous occasions, but didn’t. It’s my favorite punctuation mark anyways (writers are geeky, deal with it). I definitely have plans to get it re-inked onto my body someday, but this time, in a different location.
4. I want my neck to scream that I am bold, edgy, fierce, and elegant… All at once. I’m tired of people asking me about my semicolon every single time I so much as put my hair in ponytail — because just in case they don’t know what it is, I have to explain it to them. And right there, I lose that privacy about who I am and what I’ve bloomed from.
I want the tattoo on my neck, at the very top of my spine, the backbone to my very being, to shout something fundamental for me so that I don’t have to state it later on: “I may be tiny, but do not mess with me — I have thorns. If you choose to make an enemy of me, you will feel my wrath.”
5. I need my affinity for darkness, something so deeply seeded in me and so crucial in the essence of who I am, to live with me forever. I want people to look at me and say, “I bet that chick lives and dies by black lace, poetry, and magical realism.”
That obsession with dark aesthetics is a fundamental part of me as a writer, a fighter, and a visual artist — I want it visible on the surface. As I become a full-fledged grown-up, surviving the many trials of age, life, and death, I want that dark part of me to be as unmistakably loud and clear as I myself aspire to be someday.
Project semicolon is and always will be precious to me. It was there for me when I needed it the most, and it’s been a real source of strength and support for me in a world that all too frequently leaves me feeling lost and alone.
I will always be loyal to it (even if, for some reason, I re-tat it onto my body like I said I might). Just because it doesn’t roar loudly enough for me doesn’t mean it doesn’t live within me anyways.
Trust me, I know how tough it is out there. I know there’s something in some of us that makes it just about impossible to go on sometimes. I get that.
But also, periods are so final and dreary; be a sophisticated, pompous semicolon or gothic rose instead. The world, your loved ones, and I will all be so very glad you did.