This story originally aired on June 1, 2019.
Emotional intelligence and good self care are important for a lot of us, but they can be a little illusive as well. And if you’re a teenager, it can be even more of challenge to understand what and why you’re feeling something. That was the case for Christy Abram. Though, her work now is focused on helping her fellow women of color get through the harder parts of life by sharing their stories with others through the written word.
The self-described “hugger” has a warm smile and a quick laugh. She also pays close attention to everything you say and is present in your conversation. It’s important for her that you feel heard, because that wasn’t the case for her for the longest time. Especially when she was a teenager.
“Oh, I had a lot of trauma by that age," Abram said. "By that time, by 17, I had a son. So, just to give perspective. I had a very tumultuous upbringing, and my mother was an alcoholic. And I was passed around a lot, probably from the age of 11."
The family she was passed along to also was on drugs. Abram felt unstable, and like a burden.
“I spent a lot of time in everybody’s house, and just trying to find my groove," she said. "Like, where do I fit?”
By the time she was 16, she realized she wasn’t really finding her groove at all. So she emancipated, moved out on her own and got ready for the birth of her son. This wasn’t an easy time.
Writing had become key to her survival. Abram would write in journals and scraps of paper she'd find around the house. It made her feel safe. But she couldn’t tell anyone she was doing this because she knew her family and friends wouldn’t get it.
“In African-American culture, it’s just kind of you don’t tell people your business. It’s this whole strong woman ideal. We just have to always show up," Abram said. "So, I was doing my best at that time in emulating some behaviors that I thought were very healthy for me and just weren’t. Because, as I got older and suppressing all those things, it just made me sicker.”
And at one point, things bubbled over and she realized she needed to make a change. After years of working to heal herself, she decided to help other women of color from slipping through the cracks.
Listen to the full story to hear how she's been working to make a difference.