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FROM READERS: Dissing fear and moving forward

Monday, September 9, 2013 | 3:36 p.m. CDT; updated 3:01 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Margaret Prezioso-Frye often writes poems and shares them with the From Readers section.

Margaret Prezioso-Frye is a single mother of two children who moved to Columbia in 1987. She wrote this piece about her journey to overcoming fear, which was previously published on her blog, Myas — A Tragic Lady But No TB

“Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.” – Mark Twain

This was quoted in a blog I was reading this morning, and it brought to mind a flood of memories past. I’ve been a single mom forever it seems, even through and around other failed relationships. Yep, I turned out to be the grown-up. I had to rally and stand tall first with my infant son, then with my infant daughter and son. I faced terror unknown and unexpected. I’m no superhero; I just knew they could never see me falter and if they did, I’d be crippling their chances at the same good life others get. Just because they each respectively had deadbeat dads — can I pick 'em or can I pick 'em, I call my marriages dumb and dumber — didn’t mean my kids had to be statistics. I went head-to-head each time, and true enough, I stood while fear took the dive. It tried to creep up on me nonetheless (can fear creep for real) even with the simplest things, but I slammed the door on it. I’ve got grown kids now.

So far, so good.

Sounds like tough stuff with Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” blaring in the background, “I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman …,” but I faced another fear when I got to the point that I might be ready to publish my work. I was running out of excuses why I wasn’t ready yet. At first I saw, legitimately, that after living ex-pat teaching English, I’d taken Turkish to heart. Not only was I learning Turkish, but I was speaking Turkish in English, which means I was writing out long constructions that were how my students translated English in their minds. In other words, my language was becoming imbalanced.

Working that out made room for general insecurity: I’d never be good enough, everyone is going to hate what I write, I’m an idiot, there’s no way I’m going to be able to publish anything without thousands upon thousands in the bank, and the list went on. I was more than willing to accept these as truths and not recognize them as fear. That crafty devil — imagine, there’s this person sitting at a desk plotting.

It reminded me of Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues, the point of which is there’s always going to be something you can work on, to master inside yourself. He took each virtue and spoke of how he mastered it, but as a result, he discovered two more virtues he needed to master and so on. One way or another, it’s a lifetime project. What I hope to accomplish is to go from investing in Mylanta 2 stock to instant recognition of fear and dissing it in a blink of an eye (while listening to Helen Reddy piped through the clouds).

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you’ll consider sharing. Here’s how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.


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