Every tattoo has a story that’s meant to be told, shared, celebrated and experienced. One particular tattoo design that’s making waves across the Internet is that of a semicolon.
They aren’t just a trend, they’re a symbol of a silent fight.
It all started when Amy Bluel shared her story:
“From even a young age, I learned how to endure and to fight. At the age of 6, two years after my parents divorced, I chose to go live with my father and his new wife. Living with my father was great until my stepmother began abusing me physically, mentally and even emotionally. I endured her abuse until I was taken from my father and put into state custody. I remained there while I waited for my mother to come for me. This happened at the age of 8, marking the start of my journey into “the system.”
As a young child, she had experienced more pain than she’d ever thought or knew was possible.
Going forward with my life was difficult because of the years I’d been abused. I’d been left with a tendency toward seeking unhealthy kinds of attention and a habit for choosing paths that weren’t beneficial for my life.
When I was 13, I was raped for the first time.
Rather than being reassured and comforted after the assault, I was held responsible for a crime I did not commit and put back into the system. The next five years of my life were spent in darkness and total solitude. I was even heavily medicated with drugs used to treat mental illnesses despite never being diagnosed with one. I fell victim to self-injuring behavior more than once and, on a number of occasions, even attempted to take my life.
I had little to no respect for myself and I felt that I was worthless. The people around me, especially those who were supposed to love me, never showed me that I was worth the very air I breathed. Their attitude toward me became my attitude about me and the mentality through which I viewed myself.”
After tragically losing her father in 2013 to suicide, Amy Buel wanted to honor her father and raise awareness for mental health issues.
“At the age of 18, I lost my father to suicide.
I had been at a low point for quite some time, but this brought more pain to my life than anything I had ever experienced. With that pain lingering in the shadows, I was sent off to begin my life as an adult. I was fresh out of the system and completely unaware of where or how to begin my life as an adult, so at that point, after five years of not being in school, I obtained my HSED and went off to college.”
She founded Project Semicolon, a non-profit organization whose goal is to restore hope and confidence in people who are troubled by addiction, depression, self-harm and suicide.
Grammatically, the semicolon is used to suggest that a sentence is not over, but to separate it from another beginning. As explained on the non-profit’s 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.”
Amy believes the same principle is true in life. A semicolon is a symbol that represents the difficulties that we face are not the end, but a new beginning.
“Throughout my life, through the good times and the bad, I held closely to my faith in God. There were times that I wavered in my Faith and wondered why I had to experience such pain and times when I wondered how could a God of love allow me to go through this?”
The organization encourages people to draw or tattoo a semicolon on their wrist as a way to share their marks, their stories, and to open up a dialogue about mental health. The marks and tattoos are also a way for others to know that they are not alone in their own struggles—their own semicolons.
“It is the love of my Savior that empowered me to make a difference and to love the world with a Christ-like love, even when the world hadn’t loved me. It is only through God that I am here to tell you my story and empower you all to continue yours. Without His love and grace I know that my story would never have been told. I hope that you all know that you are loved and that you are worth saving. My story isn’t over yet, neither is yours.Stay Strong; Love Endlessly; Change Lives”