Editor’s Note: The Transitions Clinic Network provides intensive case management support and comprehensive health care services to formerly incarcerated women and men. StoryCenter is working with the Network and City College of San Francisco on an online curriculum development project, which trains formerly incarcerated women and men to become Community Health Workers at clinics like Transitions. The online courses feature digital stories by women and men, talking about their experiences with prison and the impacts of prison on their health. Tracy Reed Foster created her digital story in the spring of 2013, as part of this project. Tracy is currently a Community Health Worker with the Transitions Clinic based at the Richmond Health Center, Richmond, California.
Sharing my story at the Transitions Clinic Network digital storytelling workshop last spring was an awesome experience. I didn’t know what to expect when I was asked to participate. I was nervous, and yet I knew this was something I needed to do.
The Story Circle became serious very fast, and empathy was shown very quickly. We all were able to share parts of ourselves and trust that we had to bond and hold each other up, pull each other through, and then choose to become connected. I have met friends for life. Even if I don’t see my storytelling family daily, I know they are there. Yes, I did call them family, because they loved me through my sharing. They embraced me when I talked about my story and revealed parts of me that not even my own relatives know, and as I write this, I smile warmly because I feel really good about my storytelling family. This magnificent process brought me back to a time when I thought I was weak, yet I was strong and managed to endure. As I told my story, what seemed to be tears of sadness became gladness. I understood that if I had not gone through what I talked about in my story, I would not be sitting here today! I would not have met such wonderful, caring, and loving people, my story family. I would not have been given such a wonderful opportunity to learn how to write, edit, and add pictures, sound – I am creating and directing; wow, look at what life can do. What I’m saying is that all was necessary to get me to this place, and there are no mistakes. I have no regrets, especially in my story, because it’s mine.
I do share my finished digital story, but not all the time. The setting has to be specific, as specific as it was in the creating and editing. I want the audience to get the full impact of my story, so I am choosey. My story is me, and many times people think they know me until I share, and then an “aha moment” occurs! The magic of the story allows me to complete my share in a focused way, and attention is truly given, with tear-stained eyes from a now much more loving audience than before. How wonderful is that?
I truly believe that everyone should tell stories, and that there is no wrong answer, because all is good. Bringing your story to life will allow you to love and appreciate your strengths and celebrate your true essence…and so it is!