This post is dedicated to those young people who are suicidal, depressed, have anxiety or a broken heart and to those youth leaders, teachers, and mentors who need to be reminded that you can make a difference!
I will never forget my first encounter with a cutting teenager. As a youth pastor, I had experienced many expressions of hurt and pain, but this was the first time I had to take a step back, listen, and learn. I slowly began to understand and love deeper than ever before. When I was tasked with writing a short fictional story for my college class last year, I was introduced to the significance behind the semicolon and decided to use the opportunity to share just a piece of their story. May you learn to listen better, love deeper, and make a difference in the lives of others. Everyone’s story matters!
A Semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. On April 16th, join The Semicolon Project, Project Semicolon and thousands of people in the effort to raise public awareness against Depression, Anxiety, Self-harm and Suicide. By writing a semicolon on your wrist, you are making a promise to yourself that it is okay to reach out and seek for help.
I opened my eyes with a jolt. My hair was soaked, my body was naked, and I was gasping for breath. I frantically inhaled and found myself gulping in great amounts of liquid and vehemently vomiting it all back out. I was drowning in a porcelain pool of blood. I grasped the sides of the bathtub, hoisted myself forward, and saw the steel blade out of the corner of my eye. What had I done? Had I completely lost it this time?
Death is a promise and life a freaking lie, but it isn’t supposed to end this way – and it didn’t. My name is Kieran and I’m fourteen. My family and I live on Farthing Avenue in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Many of the students at my school assume so much about kids like me. I’m not poor. I live in a duplex but I have just about anything a kid could want except a little attention and love. I might have long, sweeping, black hair, but it’s not because I’m “emo.” There’s no problem with that, but I’m just Italian-Mexican and just happen to like my dark clothes and skinny jeans. I’m not a loner. I do hang out with my best friend every once in a while at the Stratton Mall and talk to Dimples my cat on my bed at night. I’m just a teenage guy who wants to be known, feel life, and not be afraid of each new day!
I’m eager to move on. Betty hasn’t been able to move on. I hate my mom. She lives in her own world. Every since her “Beatrice” died two years ago, she just busies herself around the house and performs her “motherly duties” in a drunken stupor. When she does talk to us, she’s usually screaming for her inhaler or reminding us of how we did something wrong or how life isn’t the same without her namesake around. Damn it! I know what it’s like to not have my little sis pulling on my trousers or crawling into my bed when she gets sacred at night! It sucks! And Cash? He just turned twelve the other day. He just goes on acting like everything is okay when it’s not! I love that little kid but he can be quite the annoyance. We share a room. I tried to separate our room with the cardboard from our new Arcti-Cool refrigerator but all that does is place a cold barrier between the two of us. Most of the time, I want it to stay that way.
It had worked for several months now and I followed the same routine that cold December evening. That’s when it happened, the cut, the tub, my last time. Earlier that night, I found a straight blade in mom’s bathroom and had it stashed beneath the latest edition of Sports News Monthly next to my bed. I never read the stupid magazine. Dad purchased the subscription and had it mailed to me a few months ago. I guess that was his way of telling me I needed to be a “real man.” He always hated my love for art and poetry and called me Sissy Boy when I wouldn’t show interest in his love affair with pigskin and touchdowns.
It all became a regular routine. I would lie still from dusk till dark and wait for my pesky, unaffected, full-of-energy brother to fall asleep. I was livid with myself and the voices in my head had to be stopped! I ran the water in the tub, grabbed the razor, and closed the door for secrecy. It was exactly what I needed and the only thing I was really good at. As I sat there with razor in hand, I sobbed, shook, craved for true existence and felt like a monster. “I never cross your mind!” I screamed to myself. “I don’t care anymore!!” The blood became my drug and the blade my best friend.
Moments later, I was grasping the sides of the bathtub and hoisting myself forward. What had I done? “What are you doing?” Cash proclaimed while peaking his head around the door upon hearing the commotion.“
“You’ll never understand. Get the heck out of here and enjoy your freakin’ life. Someone needs too!” I yelled at Cash.
Shortly thereafter, I watched the pink liquid circle its way down the drain, crawled underneath my comforter, and fell asleep listening to my iPod and the Black Veil Brides singing, “final fight for this tonight. With knives and pens we made our plight. Everyday it’s still the same dull knife!” I wanted it all to end . . . the pain, the heartache, and the cutting, but I found comfort from the scars. I dreaded it and yet I found life from every swoosh of the blade.
I was angry and sick for almost two years. I always promised myself that the last time would be the “last time” and yet my demons continued to haunt me, annoy me, and remind me “you are worthless Kieran!” I hid the evidence under layers of the latest fashion and yet there was a yearning deep within for someone to notice . . . and he did.
Mr. Lazlo was my English Grammar teacher. I’ll never forget the day he seemed to be teaching just me. “A semicolon,” he stated while seeming to stare right through me, “Is a powerful mark of punctuation.” “A semicolon can be used when a sentence could have been ended but it doesn’t. Instead of a period or an end, the sentence continues on with new ideas, new thoughts, a new life.” He slowly walked my way, pointed to my seat work, and slowly shifted his wrist upward. That’s when I saw . . . his scars . . . and the tattoo of a semi-colon. No words were needed, a lesson was learned, and my life forever changed.
This morning, I found him. I found Cash with the razor. Semicolon.