Life, Loss, Tattoos

A few things I never dreamt would happen (dreamed? dreamt? eff it) –

I’d have twins.

I’d have a child with depression.

I’d get a tattoo.

The first two happened. The third didn’t.

Shit though, after the first two crazy things, a tattoo really doesn’t sound like that big of a deal.

I know I’m not alone. I’d guess we all have a list of things we thought would never happen. Everyone has “their shit”. I’ve seen many friends and loved ones go through their shit and I’m sure I don’t even know the half of what some of them have gone through.

We’re still here though and thankfully we have the strength and the will to live our lives, despite knowing that our fair share of shit will be chucked at us, often when we least expect it.

That’s life, right? As the song goes, “Life’s a bitch and I deal with it”. (Thanks Kid Rock).

So, yeah, I had twins 18 years ago and I’m still in shock. Boy Scout and I were headed to a Susan Tedeschi concert with our friends the day we found out. I don’t remember the actual concert, besides sitting in the rain, staring blankly at the stage, in utter disbelief. I was elated, but also scared shitless. Boy Scout was already planning his vasectomy. No lie.

I love my kids more than anything in the world, just like all parents love (or should love) their kids (well maybe more, ha ha). They are my world.

Didn’t expect mental illness to hit one. Pretty much from birth, in hindsight and with diagnoses. Huh.

Alrighty then. Things got real starting around age 11. Waaaaaay too much to go into and I don’t wish to, but I’d describe the last 8 years as one wild, scary ass roller coaster ride, complete with waves of morbid thoughts and actions (and on my part, lots of hiding and crying in the bathroom). Losing my dad didn’t help as he was a very involved grandfather and arguably my child’s best friend for a long time. That was hard. Fuck cancer.

Things today (as in literally today because we have learned to take things one day at a time) are good. And I pray every night for tomorrow to be good. We’re good with “good”.

And wine helps. For real. It does. Boy Scout lovingly has a glass poured for me every night when I get home from work and we sip and catch up on our day. It’s pretty great. He’s been through his own hell and we figuratively or literally toast each other every damn day. Like, “Shit, we made it. Cheers!”

Raising our kids together has taught us both a lot. About things we expected as parents and about things we never expected. “Every day is different” is our motto. We’ve learned great lessons in patience, flexibility, tongue biting, and love. We’ve learned to use a lot of humor, too. Sarcasm can be a great coping mechanism, in addition to a lot of f-bombs (for me anyway). At least they are 18 now so I can let the f-bombs flow freely (sounds so eloquent doesn’t it?) although their age really hasn’t stopped me before now.

On that note, I can’t say we’re earning any parent of the year awards here (who the hell is) but I can say with 100% certainty, that we’ve given our kids all the love and support that they could have.

They know it, too. That matters. And I have no problem reminding them. It’s important for them to know what awesome parents they have, am I right?

Is it bad to say I’m glad they aren’t little anymore? I loved every single day of it (the good, the bad, the ugly…I guess…actually no, I hated the really super shitty times) but I’m happy they are now “adults”. That’s a loose term but thank you God that we’ve kept them alive this long and now they can start taking care of themselves, at least somewhat! Jesus. It’s like “We’ve gotten you this far, now go fucking figure it out!” Kidding. Sort of.

So about the tattoo statement.

My artsy child (with depression) has wanted tattoos and piercings since like 5. No surprise there. So, on birthday number 18, it was on.

Not only did one of my kids get a tat, they both did (I’m hoping one of them is done). Both got the same tattoo. A semi colon. The symbol.

The semi colon represents suicide prevention in this case. More specifically, Project Semicolon is dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury, and exists to encourage, love and inspire. It was founded by a young woman in 2013 who lost her father to suicide. It helps bring awareness to mental illness and achieving lower suicide rates in the U.S. and around the world. (Thank you Wikipedia.) Some also describe it as a symbol for continuing your own story…meaning your story (a.k.a. life) is not over.

Did I care about the tattoos? Well, I went with them. I mean, I didn’t encourage it but I didn’t discourage it either. We went through the whole “you know it’s forever” talk and all. I don’t have a strong opinion either way about tattoos…and some are quite sexy, oh my. I do think about being 80 and rethinking the placement of a given tat, but hey, if you’re 80 and alive, who the hell cares? Rock on.

I thought it was cool that they wanted to go together and get the same tattoo with the same meaning, although perhaps it has a different and more personal meaning for each of them. After all, they’ve both been on this wicked roller coaster ride together and they’ve both been permanently affected (permanently like a tattoo, huh). One by having the illness. One by watching helplessly, confused, and often pissed off. They both suffer. The liberal artsy one AND the conservative logical one. So different but bonded by so many things, including this. Like it or not.

I did insist that they be prepared to share what their tattoo means when people ask, because they will. I mean, if you ink your body, you are asking for people to notice. For recognition? Validation? Artistic expression? In memoriam? Various reasons I guess. To each their own.

Since then, tattoo #2 arrived above artsy’s heart: my Dad’s birthdate. (It’s pretty awesome).

And more are coming.

So be it. Stuff like tattoos are not on my give a shit list. Over these last eight years, I’ve dropped a lot of things from that list. Things that just don’t matter in my book. I’ve also learned to give a lot less of a shit about what other people think. Passing judgment is something I try hard not to do because you just don’t know what people are dealing with. At some point, everyone is going to go through their own form of hell, so “throwing shade” (as the young bucks say) is just unnecessary.

I almost lost a kid. Now I pray every day that they will both outlive me. I know friends who have lost a child (for different reasons – cancer, SIDS, suicide, accidents) and my heart and soul ache for them. I have deep and special love and respect for them and I know that they have a deep and special fire within them. I also know the pain is always there.

As it pertains to mental illness, pay attention and get educated. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. No one asks for it and people don’t just get over it. It’s a long-term disease but there are treatments and resources. Unfortunately, diagnoses are growing. I can’t even imagine the number of undiagnosed cases. If it’s even a thought, get help for your loved ones in need, especially kids. If a child even hints about it, or holy shit, if they come right out and tell you they need help, listen to them and see a doctor immediately. Do not dismiss it.

(Deep breaths…in and out…)

So, will I get tattoo?

Who knows…and who cares?

I thought about it when they got theirs but decided it was “their thing”. Part of their own stories.

I’ll see how my own story continues, which includes them being in it.

Cheers.

Dawn

 

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