I’ll Rise Up In Flames (Part 2)

So yesterday I posted a bit of backstory and framework for today’s post. During that year in Regina, my social life was online — and other than chatting with hotel employees while I was working, that was honestly my social network.

One girl whom I had developed a good friendship with online remarked how well I was handling stuff — like a phoenix rising out of the flame and ashes of its older self. In fact it didn’t take long and that became my nickname in that chatroom. I wasn’t Andrew or Drew, I was Phoenix. The nickname stuck for awhile, and I got the idea that someday I’d get a tattoo of a phoenix — the new being reborn out of the remnants of the old. Little did I know when I got the idea that life would send me on such a rollercoaster ride. Little did I know it would take over a decade for that dream to become a reality. There were times where I gave up on it and just accepted that it was just not going to happen…but then it would come back, and I’d want it all over again.

Today I was able to fulfill that dream. Today I got my phoenix tattoo. The bird, of course, is the main focus, but in the tail is a semicolon. It has become the symbol for people who have struggled with suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety or any other mental illness, but taken the courageous stand to choose to life. To choose to continue. The symolism is from writing. It shows that the author could have ended the sentence, but chose to continue on. The story isn’t over.

I’ve broken a shoulder — which although painful had a deeper impact on me in a way I’m not sure I have the words to explain. I have fairly regular pains and aches as a reminder. I’ve fallen into a deep depression, and struggled with almost-constant suicidal thoughts for almost half a year. I’ve developed (or maybe always had but now understand) an anxiety disorder, where I get easily frustrated or irritated. My marriage has fallen apart, no doubt partly due to my depression and anxiety issues and not knowing how to handle them. So this was part celebration, part therapy, part closure, part reminder to my future self to just keep pressing on. And keep rising above the ashes of your old self…

Black outline done.

Red filled in, and halfway done the black

The finished product.

Final thought. Yes it was money I could have spent elsewhere. But I’m glad I chose to go through with it. And here’s the other thing I’m thinking. If I take care of the tattoo, it’ll look great for a long, long, time-it entire life and mine. Parallel that with self-care — take care of yourself first (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), so you can then look after others, and be able to do so for a long, long time.

It’s not selfish, it’s critical. And I’m very slowly learning how to do that for myself.

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