Sisterhood – is it real, is it possible? Today, we continue sharing the writing of young women as we again call attention to the existence of the silent epidemic of violence against girls and young women raging across the United States – one that injures, demeans, oppresses and marginalizes girls from coast to coast. And yet, somehow, pushed by their will to survive, the courage to conquer another day and the resilience, grit and fortitude that is born out of determination to thrive they stand tall.
They speak out, they break the silence and they say, “No more.” It is their voices that must lead this growing movement for change. We must listen, act and be accountable. And so this week as part of our “We Are Not Invisible” Campaign dedicated to these women Warriors, TNCF is privileged to share with you this week – the expression of how they see the world through their own writing.
Today, it is our honor to share with you a story In Search of Sisterhood written by Katie from Charlotte, North Carolina.
In Search of Sisterhood
Many of us do not leave our childhoods unscathed. Mine included oppressive poverty, abuse of several kinds, a teenage pregnancy and years of scars and pain. When, nearing 30, it finally became unbearable, I understood that to unravel it all, I was going to have to turn inward. I have spent nearly the decade since performing surgery of a sort on my soul. I’ve read the spiritual greats, spent time in therapy, meditating, getting massages, floating, tapping, acupuncture, taking long walks in nature. I’ve made so much progress. And still I find hurt places I thought were healed, tender spots of ache that are revealed as life unfolds. One of my greatest struggles all along has been a sometimes overwhelming sense of aloneness. Intuitively I know that I am not; my beliefs include a Divine Creator, soul family, guardians, guides and angels. And yet, there have been times I longed for a connection to other women who had walked similar paths to mine. At long last, that happened.
In February of 2014, Jeannette Pai Espinosa, President of the National Crittenton Foundation, brought together in Portland, OR 15 women from across the country. The intent of the meeting was to take an initiative, Bridging Opportunities Love and Determination, and build it out. This BOLD brainchild of 8 women who came out of Crittenton agencies at different times and from different locations across the U.S., needed to start bearing fruit. During the intense initial gathering of wounded warrior women, the 15 of us were given the sacred space to share our personal stories uninterrupted. What came forth was an outpouring of suffering; much of what I heard brought me to tears. But I also heard voices claiming resilience, overcoming the long odds, forgiveness and joy. What I know for sure is that space created an unbreakable bond between women from all across the country, of varying ages and backgrounds; a powerful sisterhood. Shame was cast aside for acceptance and understanding, anger replaced with hugs and loving words of encouragement.
The day after sharing my story, I received a notecard from one of the other participants. Inside were words thanking me for my willingness to be vulnerable and an invitation to connect. In the two years since, our friendship has turned into daily texts and conversations, shared vacations and Holidays. More than that though, I found someone who, like me, had forged through many a dark experience and is determined to come out on the other side, joyous and strong and whole. Having shared many of the same traumas, she and I instinctively understand each other.
There have been many times that when my friend shared her memories, I had a memory triggered. We both recognize that these memories, once given the light of day, have a little less hold on us, and in our awareness of them, we can choose to heal. Certainly we have separate journeys, but I find great self empowerment and strength in knowing that my path can be lightened by someone having experienced similar things. It is freeing to share my deepest held memories and secrets and know that I will never be judged for them. And I give non-judgment in return. We provide for each other the space to be completely who we are and we are able to talk freely As a result of this friendship I have grown tremendously and made so much progress towards healing and freedom from the dark places that have continued to bind me. I am incredibly grateful, each day, for this best friendship, for this sister.
The other women in this sisterhood have been a sounding board for my dreams. They have nurtured me when I was struggling with deep sadness, encouraged me through periods of uncertainty, love me unconditionally. At different times over the course of the past two years, I have been able to spend time with many of my sisters, speaking at Congressional briefings, attending workshops and fundraisers, launching a pilot for the Society app. Each and every time I am in my sisters’ presence, I am reminded of my purpose: to go forth boldly, and to utilize the trifecta of my education, experiences, and issues about which I am passionate to self-empower other girls and women. We are a sisterhood that both defy the odds and society’s expectations. We are a sisterhood that transcends the separation and division all around us. We are a sisterhood that lifts each other up, that meets each other wherever we may be in life, and celebrates each step of progress, each hurdle crossed, each win. This sisterhood powerfully defines what it means to be BOLD.