Semicolon Project for Self Preservation

My new tattoo…
Semicolon… A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence with a period, but decided to pause and continue on instead. The author is you and the sentence is your life. On April 16, 2013, thousands of people joined to raise public awareness against depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide and “The Semicolon Project” was born. Papa Roach has a song called Scar.. My favorite verse is “my scars remind me that the past was real”.  Yup, my body is marked w/ scars. Scars from cutting myself w/ 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 my soul became unbearable and I started cutting.  It started in places that would be hidden by my clothes but eventually everything became fair game.  I share this very personal story because It’s a part of my life, not for sympathy or attention.  When I’ve been confronted about my scars the questions are always the same..

Why? Doesn’t it hurt? Did you want to die?

and ALWAYS,

“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 and somehow became an outlet and release to get the emotional pain OUT.  Saying it outloud sounds absolutely ridiculous but in the moment- it was effective.

Does it hurt?  It hurt the people that care about me more than it hurt me.  Most didn’t realize that the hurt they caused me is what had became unbearable.  It’s not about blaming anyone- more like the feelings of emotional pain are so intense that nothing short of a coma could make them go away and cutting was the one thing that worked on every level.

Did you want to die?  NO!  Absolutely not, I did NOT want to die.  In fact, afterwards as you are blotting away the blood a weird sense of panic comes over you as you inspect each cut and you hope that none of them are deep enough to require stitches or cut too deep for fear of being assumed suicidal.   For me it wasn’t self hatred, or to purposely hurt myself, i was already hurting- deeply and it was about releasing that pain.

What I hear most often is “Promise me you will never do that again”…  This is the statement that leaves me speechless.  I don’t like to make promises that I can’t keep.  I don’t intend to ever indulge in this behavior but I can only promise to take it one day at a time, stay committed to therapy and learning healthy coping skills.  So far it’s been working. I’m definitely not where i want to be but thank God im not where i used to be!  I’ve learned to live in the moment and good or bad this too shall pass.  Of course I open my mouth and the “big book” of AA comes rushing out!  As usual I thank God for each and every slogan and phrase that make recovery from everything 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 me to pause but to let the world know that I’ve been there, and I understand. It opens the door to anyone who asks about it’s significance and it may be the conversation that will make 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.

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Lysa Dilley

Exploring Lungs For Lysa. What it was like, what happened, and what its like now.... Hang on cause its a wild ride!

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