I remember being very young. Not sure of my exact age but maybe 8 years old or so, and having made breakfast for my great grandmother. She was very thin by then with a mouth full of only gums and her gray hair pulled back with a black hair clamp. I couldn’t find a small table to put In front of her chair for her to eat off of so I used the ironing board. It screeched as I opened it and placed it in front of her. When I sat her plate on top of it and moved it closer to her I warned her to be careful because the food was hot. It’s one of my last and most vivid memories of her. As I was moving the plate, she stopped me. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “You are special. There’s something different about you. You are going to be great one day.” It’s one of the last things she ever said to me.
I think about that morning and those words often. I feel as though professionally they have come to pass. I believe that Art and Abolition was one of God’s great ideas and God chose to make it a reality through me. Art and Abolition is great just like my Gram said it would be. It gives some of the most marginalized girls the great gift of education, healing, and financial stability. I look at my girls grow and change everyday and I am amazed each time.
But this has come at a cost, and to be completely authentic, sometime I’m not sure I have what it takes to pay that cost. When I am feeling that way I think about the greats who had public flaws and vices but still made huge differences in the world like MLK, Nina Simone, and the like. I know it sounds silly but I do. And usually I do that to console myself because although my great grandma was absolutely right, I have done something great with my life, I struggle in my personal life. And I mean really struggle.
The last 2 years have been the hardest and about a month and a half ago I had a mental break down and had to be admitted to the hospital. I had gone through a series of traumatic events and my body just couldn’t handle it anymore. I was carrying all the weight of doing this work for the past few years which is extremely heavy especially financially, some of my closest friends and support system pulled away from me because of a misunderstanding that happened when a friend of mine came to visit, one of my girls tried to commit suicide, and I went through a really hard break up with someone I deeply love. It was all too much for me. So, I just broke.
I have been diagnosed with PTSD (from my work). That’s not surprising. I fight child rape for a living and am financially responsible for about a dozen children. I’ve also been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and acute anxiety. Also not surprising. Who wouldn’t be depressed and anxious when fighting child rape and trying to keep a dozen kids in school on a shoe string budget?
Before the break happened things got really bad. I am embarrassed to say that I locked myself in my room for about 3 days and did nothing but cry, drink, smoked cigarettes, took sleeping pills, and slept. I didn’t eat. I didn’t talk to anyone. I just sank and sank until I could felt myself crash into rock bottom and took myself to the hospital.
I have been healing now for about a month and a half. It’s still extremely hard, but I am getting better each day. Some days I feel like I am drowning again, lots of days in fact. But the medicine, prayer, meditation, therapy, psychiatry, and focusing on God’s love for me is helping me get better.
Sometimes I get sad because I wish I had gotten help sooner because I feel that my sickness pushed some of the people I love away from me. But then I remember that everything happens at the time it is supposed to.
In about a week I get on a plane to America and will get to see most of you who read this blog face to face. I ask for your grace as I am going through a healing process and am not yet fully myself.
This is as honest as I can be.