Why I #wearTWLOHA

March 30th marks To Write Love On Her Arms‘ 7th anniversary. I want to scream, “congratulations!” half across the state to the amazing folks that makes this non-profit a reality every day. They’ve dedicated themselves to providing hope and help to people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury, suicide, eating disorders, and  the downright hardships of life we face but often feel like we can’t talk about.

To help them celebrate, they’ve invited supporters to share why they #wearTWLOHA. For me, it’s a couple reasons wrapped into one:

At first, it was about Renee’s story.

In 2006 (back when MySpace was today’s Facebook), I stumbled across this page about a girl who’d been through hell and her friends were trying to help her back on her feet. They were selling shirts for twenty dollars to help pay for her treatment. Simple black T’s with the phrase “To Write Love On Her Arms” scrawled across the side and a story inside brought me and many others to tears.

Then it became my own story when years later strange and scary acronyms like ACOA and PTSD entered my life while I tried to find answers to a pain that didn’t make any sense. It took time—a lot of time—but in the hardest moments TWLOHA’s message became my mantra as I believed hope was real and the healing I sought was possible so long as I fought for it. (I did find healing, and it truly is real.)

Soon after, it became my mother’s when my friends at TWLOHA  helped me find a place that could help her find her way out of the darkness of addiction.

Seven years later, I look back at Renee’s story, my story, my mom’s story, and see it’s ours. Us. You and me. This message of love, and hope, and redemption is about each and every one of us. Everyone matters and we each have parts to play in one another’s lives. No one can replace your role. Just like no one can replace you.

Mitakuye Oyasin.

It’s a Lakota phrase I’ve come to understand and love. It means “we are all related”. You and I, we influence each other. For better or for worse, we have the power to change lives.

When I wear TWLOHA, I am reminded of this. And I smile every time someone walks up to me and asks, “What does that mean?” or even better, “I love your shirt! Their message changed my life…”

In that instant, we find community; new acquaintances; new friends… and another reminder that we are not alone. There are people out there who care. People who can relate and have been where you are. And all of us… all of us… we make a difference in one another’s lives.

Every second of every day, we are connected.

That’s what TWLOHA means to me.

* * * * *

As stated above, To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit dedicated to providing hope and finding help for those struggling with self-injury, depression, addiction, suicide, and eating disorders. If you or a loved one is seeking answers or help for these issues, you can find a list of resources on their page at http://www.twloha.com.

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