• Rhyena Halpern

The Tattoo that Heals

Updated: Feb 23

The Power of the Semicolon to Help You Pause and Connect to Your Tribe

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It is no wonder to me why the gorgeous, subtle, sultry image of the semicolon has been tattoed on many people in the last few years.


It is the ubiquitous sign of self determination for those who are not only surviving, but thriving, after struggling with depression, deep despair, suicide, and other mental health issues.


Used prolifically in literary, poetic, academic and technical writing, the semicolon directs us to ‘take a brief pause’.


This dot and hook shaped article of punctuation is an elegant symbol for self love, self affirmation, self commitment to keep on.


It makes so much sense to me that people tattoo this elegant and simple form on their fingers, wrists, arms, or behind the ear. Sometimes they pair the semicolon with a heart or a musical note or a butterfly to signify their chosen flavor of self affirmation.


And what could be better than a sign you see all day long that reminds you that you are here, alive, and keeping on, amidst the pain, the suffering, the grief, the heartache, the beauty and terror of life?


As an end of life doula, I often talk about ‘holding the space’ for the person who is nearing the end of their life, and their loved ones. I seek to make the energy comfortable and sacred and buoyant.


The little pause embodies the same: a moment where we direct that sacred, rich fuel inward.


The mark connects us to the many, many others with parallel struggles, similar pains, and the same hope that they will find peace, love, joy and freedom in their lives.


The tattoo heals us as the connection blossoms quietly and stealthily, without noise or ego. It says, “Pause for a moment. Celebrate us. We are alive. We are making it one day at a time. Join us.”


In solidarity, I plan on getting this precious symbol etched into my skin. I too have moved from survivor of pain, suffering, inner turmoil and self hatred, to a place of ease and gratitude.

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