Happy Birthday.

By Jamie TworkowskiMarch 7, 2016

This is the beginning of a celebration. Ten years ago, TWLOHA came into existence as a story that invited people to speak and to be heard, to seek help and to help others, and to live this life together. This month we’re looking back on the last decade, sharing some of our favorite blog posts from TWLOHA’s history along the way. Originally published on January 24, 2009.

i like birthdays. i like them more for other people but i’m glad we celebrate them. At the heart of it is the opportunity to tell someone “I’m glad that you were born”, which is also to say “I’m glad that you’re alive.” Those are powerful statements. The world would be a different better place if we lived that way, if we said and showed those things, more than once a year.

i hope TWLOHA can be something like that, an attempt to say those things more often, to say that we are thankful for life and stories and certainly yours. i hope that we can be something like a gift, something like a favorite song or some show that you remember, some piece of hope or life or strength to hold against the walls when they feel cracked or falling. i hope we can be a reminder that life is worth fighting for, that your friends and family are worth fighting for, that love and beauty still happen, that change still happens. We’ll only ever be part of the process, words on a screen in the middle of the night – i hope they find you like a friend. A t-shirt pulled from one of your drawers early on a tired silent morning – i hope you feel less alone when you look in the mirror. i hope it reminds you of community, that you’re part of a bigger thing. i hope it sparks some conversation that brings change like a fire on the coldest night.

You’ll need more than us. You’ll need more and better. You’ll need other people. You’ll need people to help you process, people to help you let go, people to help you remember what’s true and people to help you forget what’s lies. You’ll need the stories and advice of people with gray hair or white hair or no hair at all. Don’t buy the lie that suggests they have nothing to offer or nothing to say – they were young once too. They are stories still going and they’ve seen the places you will go. They’ve been stuck at times as well, just like you and me and everyone.

You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.

We’re saying the story doesn’t end here, that the air in your lungs is there for a reason. Perhaps we’re all in the business of better endings, you as much as us, the business of redemption. Yours and mine and all the characters around us, and perhaps that bigger thing. i’ll steal from Bono here and tell you that i believe we’re far from alone in this, that God’s been at this for a long time, this business of buying things back, making things new. If this is starting to sound too Churchy or spiritual, i’ll simply say that i believe God gives a shit, about your life, about your story, about your pain. And if those possibilities feel too far or they just sound weird, then rest now and we’ll get back to people.

We give a shit.

The darkness wins too often. Broken things build themselves in silence. People feel alone. People give up. People talk about this stuff like it’s math or they don’t talk about it at all.

So what are we doing? Why this page? Why the shirts? Why did a group of young people put their lives on hold and move to Florida a week ago? Why would they trade everything they know, all their normal comfort and quiet, for a crowded house and endless hours of this word “community”? Why would they want to join a conversation that most people run from?

We’re trying to fight for people with kindness, with words that move, with honesty and creativity. We’re trying to push back at suicide with compassion, with hope. We’re pointing to wisdom, pointing to medicine, saying that hope is real, help is real. We’re fighting for our own stories, our own friends and families, our own broken hearts. We’re saying there’s nothing we can’t talk about, nothing off-limits. We’re kicking elephants out of living rooms, making room for life.

You. It’s about you. This is for you. It’s crap unless it moves you, crap unless it connects with your story, meets you in your pain, reminds you of your dreams, reminds you what’s possible.

We’re still alive, you see. You and i on this night that’s never happened before. Spread out across a giant circle, winter on one side and summer on the other, day and night the same. And then it moves and turns and changes. Things are always changing.

We are glad that you were born.
We are glad that you’re alive.

Don’t give up. Don’t give up on your story. Don’t give up on the people you love. Hope is real. Love is real. It’s all worth fighting for.

Peace to you tonight.

Leave a Reply

Comments (17)

  1. Ty

    I wish I knew people like this…

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  2. Marlena

    I just want to say thank you! I know this was not only for me, this is for everyone and anyone who needs these powerful words, but I still just want to say thank you. Every time I read your blogs or book or quotes on Facebook it just gives me more strength to get through the day. Yesterday was my birthday and although I didn’t have all the people that I loved surrounding me and not everyone wished me happy birthday as soon as the clock struck 12am, I was able to use your words and your hand picked quotes to remind me that I am loved! Thank you so much!

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  3. Emily

    Love this! Thank you. Happy Birthday, Jamie!

    Reply  |  
  4. Danika Fronczyk

    Thank you Jamie. I found you guys a year and 3 days ago and I am so thankful because you all have helped me realise those things you mentioned above. Happy birthday TWLOHA. Thank YOU ALL for being alive.

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  5. Fae

    It was my birthday two days ago and I needed to hear this. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
    1. Laura

      Hey. I just wanted to stop for a moment and say happy late birthday. I’m glad you’re alive. Let’s fight together to believe better is possible.

      Reply  |  
    2. Bellla

      Belated happy birthday fae. I send you unconditional love and hopes of wisdom, wisdom to know your worth, know where to turn when you need help, wisdom to love and love yourself. God bless

      Reply  |  
  6. Laura

    These words definitely find me like a friend.

    This community has become close like family. All words on a screen. Maybe. But so much more.

    Right now, it feels impossible to breathe. I ask if hope really is real. I wonder if things will ever be okay again – let alone good. Then these words on a screen have most definitely come to the rescue and found me like a friend. These words. They remind my heart to beat again… and that the breath in my lungs is there and to keep breathing. It’s almost as if I’m learning to breathe all over again after losing my baby girl. However, this community reminds me that while life is hard, but that my story (and yours) is a story worth telling and fighting for. That none of us stand, walk or fight alone.

    I pray to once again believe that it’s good to be alive. That hope truly is worth fighting for. Tonight, though, I’m going to be content going to bed then getting up tomorrow and facing another day. One moment at a time. One foot after the other.

    Thank you TWLOHA and happiest of birthdays. I pray this is TWLOHA’s best year yet.

    Reply  |  
    1. Bellla

      Love to you dear Laura
      God bless

      Reply  |  
  7. Angela

    I’m so glad I found TWLOHA when I did….reading this blog helped me when I was all alone and had yet to realize that God loved me despite all of my flaws. Thank you so much for creating this amazing, supportive organization. You guys helped save my life.

    Reply  |  
  8. Mariana Lopes

    Hi all. My name is Mariana, I’m from Bralzil andar just finished whatching TWLOHA movie wich made me feel really impressed since I was in her position in the past. I used to be a boederline andar tried suicide several times as well. In 2013 found God’s love and now I live to give my testimony. It’s really really awesome to know about your hard work on preserving people’s life. Again, I’m very glad andar impressed with tour dedication!!!!
    Keep up with this great work!
    My God bless you.
    Mariana Lopes (fb.com/devocionaisdamari)

    Reply  |  
  9. Cindy

    Powerful. Moving. Impactful. God bless you TWLOHA.
    Some days just breathing is enough.

    Reply  |  
  10. Leslie

    Thanks, Jamie.
    This is great.
    I’m still too ashamed of my depression and anxiety to discuss super publicly. And, frankly, friends know, but they don’t get it. Or I minimize. But how is saying ” I don’t remember three days, but remember thinking it would be an accidental overdose if I died” minimizing? But I have a knack for saying the most serious things flippantly. Just know I have shared quotes from blogs @ partial hospitalization programs and still remember ” I am more than my 3 am self” I just don’t feel like anybody “gets me”, but sometimes I read and feel maybe y’all get it. So, even though it’s not super personal… Like you said, we’ll need other people, it is helpful. And I think I’ll read this until I can perhaps fall asleep. God bless you. He is using you.

    Reply  |  
  11. Skylar Hansen

    Well considering one small detail of the current date being, May 6th, 2019. I found this a little late and wish I would have found this about 3 years ago, Thank you Jamie for starting this, and as you said, “giving a shit” about people and the perpetuation of love. I my self have done some dumb shit im not proud of and still think of doing those things, but this gave me a little hope, so I thank you very much and hope you see this and know that you most likely save some 17 year old guy whos trying his best, so again I thank you. I’ll leave with these remarks, Stay Alive, Stay W3IRD, and Stay Happy. — Peace, Love, and Happiness

    Reply  |  
  12. Christine F.

    What a beautiful, yet bittersweet you have here! Such a humanely endearing movement, & so simple to understand it’s hard not to relate to the concept. I mean, who wouldn’t benefit from an occasional, (or constant) visual reminder that their heartbeat & presence really does matter to the world! Nobody knows how it might affect someone who just may be silently screaming without a single person able to recognize their personal torment weighing in on them for none of us to see.

    Bless you for the wonderful message you are sharing! 🙂

    Reply  |  
  13. Kim

    What book did this quote come out from??

    Reply  |  
  14. adil

    You can enjoy your birthday event at Northlands.

    Reply  |  
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