This past weekend one of my best friends flew into town to spend the weekend with me. These days we don’t get to see each other nearly as often as we’d like, so when we’re in the same place at the same time we always make the most of it! We had such an amazing weekend full of adventures and wine, and when Monday morning came I just wasn’t ready to send her back to Colorado. I hate that all of my best friends live so far away!
Sunday evening I found myself sitting in a chair, squeezing her hand, while needles pierced my foot with fresh ink, and I was brought right back to the first day we did this. To the day we decided to get matching tattoos. Yes, matching. It was our sophomore year of college, before the days of Facebook and “adulting”, and I had just posted a survey on MySpace. You know, that dinosaur of a thing that was around before Facebook. Anyways, now that I’ve dated myself and am officially old, the title of my MySpace survey was a simple quote that had anything but a simple meaning to me: LOVE IS THE MOVEMENT. It wasn’t but five minutes later that this girl I barely knew through mutual friends commented on that post and said, “I’ve wanted to get that phrase tattooed for so long!” and I replied with, “ME TOO!”
“Me too”. Those words are powerful, friends. They are two simple words that instantly bring people together. Because we all need other people. We all want to know that someone else out there gets it. That we are understood. That we are not alone. That we are LOVED. And sometimes, all it takes to say all of that is a simple, “Me too!”
So the very next day we met up and hung out for the very first time, and we started planning our matching tattoos! We spent hours devouring the internet for the perfect fonts and location on our bodies. We settled on matching locations on our feet, with slightly different fonts. And we called and set an appointment. Just two weeks after we’d first officially hung out we were walking into a tattoo parlor to get our matching ink. Some may call us crazy, and we probably were, but that was the start of such a beautiful friendship that I am SO thankful for. Having a person who just got it, no explanations needed, because of two simple words (me too), was thee most amazing thing. It still is.
Some of you may have heard this phrase before, and some of you have absolutely no idea why we instantly bonded over the words “Love is the Movement”. Here’s the backstory: Sometime during 2008 we had both separately stumbled upon a MySpace page called To Write Love On Her Arms; an organization that started with a story about a girl. But it was more than just a story, it was a beacon of hope. As the TWLOHA website reads, “The words and the life it represented shed light on the reality of contrast - pain and peace, addiction and sobriety, regret and freedom. The title, To Write Love On Her Arms, also represented a goal to believe that a better life was possible.” They had started a conversation that wasn’t being had openly anywhere else. They dedicated themselves to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. They existed to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery. And they spoke to both of our souls, because we had both personally struggled with at least one of those things.
I found To Write Love On Her Arms in the midst of the deepest depression I’ve ever battled with, and I will never forget sitting on my dorm room floor, sobbing, while reading these words from the original story for the first time: “We often ask God to show up. We pray prayers of rescue. Perhaps God would ask us to be that rescue, to be His body, to move for things that matter. He is not invisible when we come alive. I might be simple but more and more, I believe God works in love, speaks in love, is revealed in our love. I have seen that this week and honestly, it has been simple: Take a broken girl, treat her like a famous princess, give her the best seats in the house. Buy her coffee and cigarettes for the coming down, books and bathroom things for the days ahead. Tell her something true when all she’s known are lies. Tell her God loves her. Tell her about forgiveness, the possibility of freedom, tell her she was made to dance in white dresses. All these things are true. We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers. We won’t solve all mysteries and our hearts will certainly break in such a vulnerable life, but it is the best way. We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home. I have learned so much in one week with one brave girl. She is alive now, in the patience and safety of rehab, covered in marks of madness but choosing to believe that God makes things new, that He meant hope and healing in the stars. She would ask you to remember.”
And so I tried to remember. I clung to those words. And to the phrase that TWLOHA shared repeatedly: LOVE IS THE MOVEMENT. “We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home.” That was the truth I clung to. And the best way I could think of to remind myself of that truth was to put it right in front of my face. Every single day. Permanently. And so when this girl I barely knew said she had wanted to get that same phrase tattooed on herself, she didn’t have to explain. I didn’t need to know the details, I just got it. She needed that reminder too. She needed something to tell her truth on the days where all she heard were lies. And when I said, “ME TOO!” she knew that I understood. So we walked into that tattoo parlor, and we held each other's hands as we made our reminders permanent.
I’ll be honest here friends, I never in a million years planned on sharing this story with you. It’s not full of pretty pictures or sparkly details. It’s not a happy-go-lucky story about how wonderful life is. But I’m sharing this story anyways, because it’s important. Because our stories matter. Where we come from matters. Because I believe in the things that the founders of TWLOHA believe in: That we were created to love and be loved. That people need other people. That our stories are important. That better days are ahead. And mostly, that hope and help are real. And that it is absolutely okay to ask for help.
There is SUCH a stigma around mental health in our society. It’s taboo to discuss; nobody wants to admit that they are struggling. That their life isn’t all happy days and perfectly curated instagram feeds. Publishing this blog is terrifying. Being vulnerable is terrifying. Admitting that this perfectionist isn’t always perfect and doesn’t really have it all together, all the time, is terrifying. But I’m choosing to share anyways, because as I sat there on Sunday, getting my “LOVE IS THE MOVEMENT” tattoo touched up with one of my very best friends at my side, I was reminded of these truths. Reminded that it’s okay to admit when we’re struggling. To admit that we don’t have it all figured it out. To admit when things are hard. To admit that we need help. And to remember that love is the only thing that moves us past all that, into hope and healing. Love is the ONLY way through it friends. To love and to be loved. We all need each other. Let’s remember that, okay? And let’s not be afraid to share the hard days. It’s far too easy to curate a picture perfect life on Instagram and Facebook, but let’s remember to be real and honest with each other, especially when things are hard. That’s when we need each other the most. So keep on going, even through the most challenging of days, because it does get better. Hope and healing are possible. And so is love.
2009 | Where It All Began
2016 | 7 Years Later
Then VS Now
You might notice one small difference from the picture of the day we got these matching tattoos versus the one from Sunday; we added the star from the TWLOHA logo. It serves as yet another reminder, of this quote from Renee Yohe, the girl the original story was about:
“Tell them to look up. Tell them to remember the stars. The stars are always there, but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope.”