(She's never let me down).
I'm on the train to Bexhill with Bex, travelling along the coast to visit LouLou of Inkscape, because obviously last minute project semi-colon tattoos are always a good idea, especially when they're for a good cause.
The Thursday Bex and I travel over to get tattooed (sorry Granddad) it's raining and over-cast, and I can't help but think of the last 13 years since I started self harming, and then I stop thinking about that because knowing it's been 13 years is miserable. I think instead about how the semi-colon is used in writing. I think about the reason we're going to see Lou specifically; I think about Project Semicolon.
- The semicolon or semi-colon (;) is a punctuation mark that separates major sentence elements. A semicolon can be used between two closely related independent clauses, provided they are not already joined by a coordinating conjunction.
Visiting Inkscape is like visiting old friends, and Lou is softly spoken as she talks about why she started this project after seeing it plastered over social media. Lou wanted to give something back, a project that involves not just the tattooed community but those with mental illness, a project that has the potential to bring people together and forge connections. Lou tells Bex and I that mothers, daughters, and whole families come to share the experience of getting a project semicolon tattoo, that it becomes part of the healing process - to share the stories of survival.
While talking in the shop, a mother and her daughters are there, proudly showing off their project semicolon tattoos and it's easy to see the love and the connections of a family brought together in a shared experience. It's moments like that that make me believe.
The nature of the project lends itself to personal stories of strife and upset and those getting these tattoos often bare their souls to Lou as she tattoos them, they share their stories and Lou struggles to find the words to explain how blessed and privileged she is to be part of this persons journey.
I've been struggling whilst doing this project... so it's been close to my heart too... just had major changes in my life last 6 months so it's helped me not fall when people are being so strong...
So far Lou has raised over £350 for Mind, the full cost of the tattoo being donated. Pricing the tattoos at £10 makes it accessible, and the atmosphere at the shop is welcoming, as Lou shows me photographs of the project semicolon tattoos that she has already done, it touches me, and it's all so wonderful to remember that I too, am not alone. That even though it's the hardest thing in the world to remember, none of us are ever alone.
It's not just the money though, it's the experience of having a tattoo that carries so much meaning, personally and universally. It's that tattooing can be a replacement for self abuse, it's that beauty can come from the darkest of places and it's remembering that it's not over yet.