I woke up scared. I’m not sure where the root of the fear was born; it pounced on my chest like a cat looking in my face daring me to move. I lay there thinking about all the things I was scared to do and the different ways that I might fail and what that failure looks like. I shut my eyes and prayed to go back to sleep; sleep didn’t come. Instead, I heard a voice saying: “you can’t erase the day.”
Hiding under covers did not make the day go away. To ease myself into the day, I decided to write myself into it, but before I could pick up my pen, I began another battle: how not to give my fears life on the page. Writing my fears down made them real. I didn’t want to relive old wounds to wake up old stories that were doing a tap dance in my head—the stories that replayed like a bad old movie that questioned my competence and worth.
As a diversion, I scrolled through a friend’s Facebook page and stopped at an interview with Sheila Johnson, a self-made woman who has reached phenomenal heights and written a book, Through the Fire, that details her journey. Listening to the interview, I was inspired not because she made history as America’s first black female billionaire but because of two things: she said, “wounds build wisdom” and the writing of her book was part of her healing. This made my skin tingle. Her words reminded me of how words can conquer wounds to lose their power once the words are put down on paper. I found this out almost 30 years ago when I created SOAR’s Writing for Healing Workshops to teach others to put clothes on their words to take back their power.
In my fear state, I neglected to think about how far SOAR has come. I was licking wounds instead of charting SOAR’s wins. Over the years, SOAR has lifted the voices of teen mothers, recovering addicts, domestic violence survivors, incarcerated youth, and a plethora of adolescent and grown women who were in relationships that did not serve them. This past month, with the help of Nikita Easley the Deputy Committee Director, Committee on Facilities & Family Services in the office of Ward 4 Council member Janeese Lewis-George, SOAR has secured its first memorandum of agreement with Child and Family Services to work with young women aging out of foster care.
To work with young women aging out of foster care has been a personal mission of mine for a very long time. I was inspired first by a young man I met waiting for a bus. He was agitated and began talking to me about his experience in foster care and being abandoned. He went on to tell me how he was now in and out of mental health facilities. My second encounter was with a young woman, who was a promising writer who was accepted into Spelman, but she was unable to combat her wounds of mental and physical abuse she experienced within the foster care system to take advantage of the opportunity. The last young woman was a student at Morgan who spoke to me about being dumped by a foster mother who she thought loved her until the woman stopped receiving checks from the state.
What I realized I woke up to do was to write down my wins. When I do that, I don’t have time to think about what can’t be done. Is this the day you need to write down your wins?