My view on what it means to be a “good member of the Church” has drastically changed over the past 5 years. I used to be pretty uppity about the commandments and what is acceptable behavior as a follower of Christ, and what is not. It’s not that I judged others all that much. I kind of subscribed to the idea that what and how you believe is between you and God. I was, for sure, in competition with myself though. Occasionally, I would have something to think about how this person, or that one acted. I want to publicly apologize for that right now! To tell the truth, I thought my Cheater was one of the most devout people I knew. He was all about going to church every week, and making sure we all behaved a certain way, and did certain things. We said prayers as a family every night. We mostly didn’t go to the store on Sundays. We paid tithing. He frowned upon turning down callings. And swearing was off limits!
Scripture study was hit and miss, but nobody is perfect right? Well, you can imagine my surprise when all his dirty little secrets emerged!
Up until this point, I took the counsel of David A. Bednar seriously; outward appearances are a sign of an inward commitment. I learned, the hard way, this is not always the case. The Mosaic Law was a law of outward performances, and we see how well it worked out for them. Nowadays, it’s harder to tell who is really committed to the gospel, and who isn’t. Nothing against Elder Bednar. I still believe his talk is true, but like many things in the gospel, it is nuanced. Before you get all your feathers ruffled, it’s still a favorite talk of mine! I’m just not all judgy about it anymore. I’m not going inactive so simmer down.
I’m just saying that I have mellowed a lot over the past few years. After what the Cheater did…well, I can’t top that, and I don’t want to! Murder anyone? No thanks, I’m good!
It makes anything I do, or didn’t do, or want to do, pale by comparison. So I subscribe to the same philosophies as the Sistas in Zion. Nothing is so bad that it can be fixed, and I own my humanness.
You want to swear? Go right ahead! I might join you, if I’m in the mood. This is one reason I had purple hair for the last 5 years! It’s something the Cheater would have hated and scowled down on me with a look of contempt. I don’t care! I’ll take my purple hair and raise you your 31 affairs! Do you see why my perspective has changed? I just don’t have time or patience for the silliness of worrying about what everyone else is doing. I decided I’m going to live my life on my terms, being as real, and approachable, and transparent, and accountable as I can be. And I don’t give a flying flip which commandments you keep and which ones you don’t. I’m not keeping score! They way my life has gone, I pretty much have no opinion on your life!
Which brings me to the arrow and the semicolon…
I came across the semicolon movement not long after I attempted to take my own life and it made a profound impact on me. The idea behind it is that a semicolon is placed in a sentence at the end of a thought but the author also has another connected thought. In the semicolon movement it has come to represent a life tragedy that is devastating; but the person has the wherewithal to keep going. Their life suffered a big blow; but they were able to go on. (See what I did there?) Simply put, it means your story isn’t over yet! Beautiful!
The betrayal, and resulting trauma, was most definitely a semicolon moment on my life! My life nearly ended because of it. At the exact moment I learned about the semicolon I knew I needed to have one! The question was, how? I worried about jewelry getting lost or tarnished. I was baffled as to how to proceed. One day I was discussing it with the kids and someone mentioned a tattoo. That was it! This had to be a tattoo! But…but…but…I was overcome by all the years of teachings that my body is a temple and…and….and. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, even though I loved the idea of it! So I sat on it, and thought about it. For an entire year I rolled this idea around in my head.
Then the kids took matters into there own hands. They would gift me the tattoo for my birthday as a symbol of my new life and new beginnings. My mother’s heart was so joyful and proud of them! They encouraged me to do it, “You know you want to!”, they kidded. I really did want to!
Two days later, it was planned. We would just go ‘visit’ a tattoo parlor and see if the vibe was ok. If it felt sketchy at all, we would leave. To my surprise, and delight, the whole family came to watch! The kids and grandkids. Everyone was so encouraging and supportive. The place we went to was great and they had an appointment available right then.
It was meant to be!
So now I have a tattoo!
Never in my life would I have ever imagined it. The idea was preposterous in my old life. I’m pretty sure some people who know me have had minor heart failure over it. And no, hell hasn’t frozen over, and pigs still do NOT fly! But in my new life, it fits! I designed it myself. I had to have it mean something significantly profound.
There is the semicolon in the shape of a heart. This represents that my heart has survived this! There was a time I didn’t believe it would. People really do die of a broken heart, I thought I would be one of them. My heart didn’t shatter beyond repair either. It did bleed out a little bit though, represented by the flourishes.
Then there is the arrow. I have felt since the beginning of this journey that I was a warrior. First, I was fighting for my marriage, nearly to my death. Second, then fighting so hard to recover myself from this damnable PTSD. I still fight everyday to get out of bed and live my life. It’s a choice I consciously have to make each day. Still. So when an arrow is shot from a bow, it must be pulled back to have the momentum and energy to be propelled forward. I have had to be pulled back, almost to the point of breaking, to move forward. Together, these symbols have a profound effect on me. And the fact that my children wanted me to have this is all the more significant.
Everyday, I look down at my arm and I am reminded that I MUST get up and keep fighting because I owe it to me, and I owe it to them to be more than ok with my life. They need me to be there for them. It’s sort of a promise between us, made in blood, that I have a second part to my sentence. The profoundness of a tattoo is that it was the only way this has any significance. It’s a blood pact with my children, and all the people who love me, that I will never allow someone to abuse me to the point of death again. Not ever.
And do you know what? Somehow, I think Heavenly Father is ok with that!
Be Strong, Stay Sweet!
Did you know that 60% of all women who are betrayed have suicidal thoughts?
Did you know that almost 90% of all people know someone who is close to them who has experienced betrayal?