Career Woman

What’s keeping you in prison?


All over the world, people are in prisons — both those built with real bricks and bars, and those built from the fears and problems that hold us back. And there are some common factors in both.

Many people are not aware that one of my good friends is incarcerated.  I remember when I first met her nearly 15 years ago.  She had a beautiful face with a pretty smile.  She was a great mother but her experiences were not the easiest.  Her relationships with men were difficult and often painful.  Nevertheless, she persevered and continued to pursue her education.

She ultimately received her Master’s degree and had a prominent position.  My friend was well-respected in the community, and loved.  What I didn’t know was that this amazing woman was still struggling.  She moved into another role and yet, external factors were plowing down on her ability to succeed as she had done previously.

This friend was struggling and with the limited information I had about her situation, I was trying to help her professionally do something different.  I heard it in her voice a few weeks prior that something was wrong but after inquiring, she told me she would be alright.  I left it alone and moved on.

I got a call when I was out of town that she was in the hospital and when I returned, I wanted to visit her.  As I was getting ready to go, I received a call that she was in the prison infirmary instead.  I was baffled because I didn’t understand why she was in jail.

My friend had been in an accident.  She hit several cars, injured one person severely and killed another.  She was driving drunk.

I was hurt for her and for her family.  Her children were young adults with the exception of one who was in high school.  I was also saddened for the loss the other family experienced.

Typically, I couldn’t understand drunk drivers and I had no tolerance for what they had done but this was different.  I knew the person.  I remember watching families who supported their relatives who did bad things and I was angry.  It’s not that I have forgotten the pain or the death that resulted, it was terribly wrong—no excuses. She took a life.  And yet, it was hard to watch someone who I knew personally was so gifted, so talented, make what I knew was a very bad decision.

Yet, I realized that so often, we all make bad decisions.  Some are small and others have lasting consequences.  I have made some bad decisions.  The difference is that my friend’s prison is physical and apparent to all of us.

She is paying the cost for her decision—it is a consequence.  My friend’s physical prison was a result of the many years of a mental prison she had been in.  She found a tool to help her cope, alcohol.

Many of us are also incarcerated in our thinking.  We are imprisoned by our thoughts.  Thoughts of fear, insecurity, worthlessness plague us, keeping us from truly being free and experiencing life in the way that we could.  Her decision has impacted the lives of so many.

Our decisions have similar impact.  When we don’t live in a way that is honoring to our authentic selves, we, too, impact others.  Our prisons often capture others in the snare of our situations and they become affected by our decisions.  Our destinies are intertwined and when we are not purposeful, we might impair others who are connected to us.

Some questions to ponder:

What is keeping you in bondage—mentally, physically, and spiritually—from being your best?

What is your tool to cope?  My friend used alcohol.  Some of us dull our pain with relationships, sex, work, activity or resentment.

What step can you take to experience true freedom?

My friend has been sentenced to jail for a long time.  I think often about what if she had made a different decision.  Her experience has taught me so much and I realize that I have the opportunity each day as the sun rises to do something different, to make wiser decisions that will help my life and ultimately, touch the lives of others’ in a meaningful, positive way.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned from this experience and in the following weeks, I will share my reflections on forgiveness and the connection to freedom it can provide for our journey.

About Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew is a Partnership Broker. Relational Leadership Junkie. Connector. Author/Speaker/Trainer. Co-Founder, HERitage Giving Circle. She been quoted and profiled in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. In addition, she has been asked to speak on a variety of topics such as social capital and networking, leadership, diversity, and community development to national and international audiences. This included serving as a workshop presenter at the United Nations in 2013 on the Access to Power. One of the most impactful life events for her was being a part of the documentary, Friendly Captivity, a film that followed a cast of 7 women from Dallas to India. Honors for her work include: Semi-finalist for the SMU TEDx in 2012, 2012 Outstanding African American Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Arlington, 2009 Woman of the Year Award by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Diversity Ambassador for the American Red Cross. Graduating with a PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change, she also attended the Jean Baker Miller Institute at Wellesley for training in Relational Cultural Theory and completed facilitator training on Immunity to Change. She has also completed training through UNICEF on Equity Based Evaluations, and is the author of 2 workbooks for women, Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life and Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last as well as a writer for several publications around the globe. WFAA Attention Series: Froswa Booker Drew on Vimeo

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