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January 6, 2014

Lisa Madras: We build prisons in our fear...but we can survive and grow stronger

NEW CASTLE — What personal prisons have you built out of fears?

I've been in many prisons of my own making during my lifetime.  I didn't really have a whole lot of self-esteem for most of my life, and that meant that I was scared of pretty much everything-- of being unloved, of not being good enough, of not saying or doing the right things.

It took losing darn near everything for me to realize that all of these things I was scared of meant... absolutely nothing.  I'd been unloved.  I'd been not good enough.  I hadn't said or done the right things.  

And I'd survived.

I still had my children, I told myself, and they were the only things I'd ever truly fear losing.  But I did build myself a nice big prison out of that fear, and every parent in the world lives in it with me, so I'm not really alone here.

There's a different part of this prison, though, the one I call solitary confinement, and it's the part that we single parents fear the most, which is dying and leaving our children without a mother or a father.  It's the flip-side of losing your children-- having your children lose you.

It's the ultimate cosmic kick in the pants that I have no real fear of dying itself, unlike many people.  I don't want it to be painful and drawn out, of course, but the whole ceasing to exist thing?  It just doesn't bother me.  It's the way things work.  But throw a couple of fatherless kids into the mix, and you've got a whole different can of wriggly little worms to worry about.

I pray every single day that I survive until my children are grown.  It's a selfish prayer, no doubt, but the only one that this mother's heart speaks when making requests of God.

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