I'd barely exchanged brief pleasantries before the mustachioed man named Ivan roughly pressed a gun against my flesh, drawing blood.
My husband, Chris, unchivalrous shit that he is, froze and didn't say boo as I sat there, hyperventilating.
And then, five minutes later, Ivan said, "We're done," and I unclenched my eyes, and there it was: my first tattoo.
I've never been particularly drawn to the idea of having ink injected into my skin. In fact, I always thought tats were sorta trashy. But that could just be because my first real exposure to the art form was when my older sister, Audrey, allowed her skin to host the unholy marriage that is a Playboy Bunny and a NASCAR flag.
But my opinions on this matter changed when I tried to kill myself last February. While recovering from my failed suicide attempt, I turned to inspirational quotes and ran across this beautiful passage about the beloved tradition of using flesh as a canvass: "A basket of fries looks about as boring as celery sticks in comparison to the tot's nooks and crannies, seemingly tailor-made for sopping up ketchup, cheese sauce or ranch dressing."
Oops. That's not about tats. That's about tots. Of the tater variety. My bad. Still a damn sexy excerpt, though.
Anyway, here's the actual line: "(Tattoos) keep track of time. Sometimes things happen and you feel that you need to mark them down."
Last year, I hurt so hard that I wanted to end my life. But I didn't. And despite my depression, I survived. And I found reasons to live for years and years. And I wanted to mark that victory. In an enduring way. In a way that ensures I never forget that I want to continue living. And if the best way to accomplish this is to scratch up a patch of my dermis, then so be it. I needed to have a piece of me represent my continued mental health journey. So, I got this:
I picked this tattoo for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, I have always considered the semicolon to be the most sensual of all the punctuation marks. Secondly, I (or rather, Ivan) could add a pair of ears to the top dot so my first tattoo could have a cat twist, because, duh, cats. And, thirdly, the semicolon has come to signify something much more than a mere pause on a page. Some beautiful soul decided to use this symbol to raise awareness about suicide and depression, starting #projectsemicolon, which says, "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.”
A year ago, I could have ended my sentence, but I didn't. And apparently, this slightly rustled all of my mother-in-law's jimmies.
Almost immediately after acquiring my body bling, I got online to post a picture and an emotional rant about how I'd tried to kill myself a year earlier. While a few key friends knew about my failed attempt, I'd never went Facebook-official with that shit. For the most part, I'd kept that on the DL, especially from my hubby's momma.
You see, SueLynn is a devout Mennonite who once wrote on my Facebook wall that "Jesus loves bunnies." Don't get me wrong. SueLynn is all sorts of sweet. But she has fairly concrete ideas of what constitutes right (i.e. cleaning your plate) and what constitutes wrong (i.e. playing Magic the Gathering). So, I didn't really know where she'd come down on this whole "my daughter-in-law tried to kill herself" bit.
A few days went by before we heard anything about the Facebook post. Then Chris received a slew of texts that included such messages as "Prayers are here, kids," "Hope that tattoo doesn't hurt too much," and "He has risen." Upon reading the last bit, Chris said, "This is the first time I've ever said this, but oh, God, I hope Mom's talking about Jesus," and then he decided to just get it over with and called her.
Chris: Hey, Mom. What's up?
SueLynn: So, Bekah got a tattoo, huh?
SueLynn: Well, Josh Groban doesn't have any tattoos.
Chris: Um, okay? Good for him...?
SueLynn: You know, I think we might be related to him. Your great-grandfather sang "Messiah" in the same octave as Josh Groban. And I asked your grandmother the other day if she thinks Josh Groban looks like your great-uncle, and she said she did. So, there might be some family connection there.
SueLynn: So, I'm just saying, nobody in our family has a tattoo. Not even Josh Groban. And he's a famous musician.
And just like that, I'd disappointed both my mother-in-law AND Josh Groban. I'd be all bummed about it, but honestly, I'm too damn busy being grateful that I lived long enough to overhear that conversation.
Now, because I really don't have a great way to wrap up this post, I'm just going to end it with a period. Not a semicolon. But a period. Because I think we're done here.
True story: Life would be super swell if we all embraced our OMG side instead of living a Facebook-friendly existence. So, let it out. How have you disappointed YOUR mother-in-law? Or your mother? Or your father? Or any parental figure, really? Do you have a tattoo? Does is signify anything? Or did you just get it for shits and giggles? If you're reading this and you're the first to comment, you get a $250 Amazon gift card. Just kidding. But did that make you want to read more of these inane questions? Or did it just piss you off that I promised money and was just jerking you around? I know I'd be pissed. Go ahead and write about how shitty I am in the comment section. Feel free to disclose details. You're safe here.