I never felt so alone or insignificant as I did when Ron went to prison.
Most of my family and friends had abandoned me. The future looked dark, bleak, and cruel. It seemed to be calling me into a life defined by social isolation, poverty, and hopelessness. I was overwhelmed! I was drowning in responsibilities—taking care of my 2 small sons, working on Ron’s case, and doing everything I could to keep us in our home and fed. The stress and pressure of it all was pressing in so hard that it was impossible to take a break from it all. I was trying so hard to find a new normal for my sons while fighting for Ron’s freedom and fighting even harder to keep my marriage and family together. When people would invite me to activities, it felt like just another demand on my time. I did not have time for fun or for relaxing or for anything that was just about me. I did not matter. There were too many important things that demanded my time and attention. I was at the bottom of my own list of priorities.
But as the years passed, I learned that I did matter.
When I did not take time to take care of myself, I was not as effective at caring for my boys or meeting all of the other demands in my life. I recognized that I had to adjust how I saw myself. I could not let others decide my value. You have to make the decision that I was valuable and I mattered.
Living life as the wife or partner of someone in prison is a challenge. It is hard. It is exhausting every day and in every way. So many moms of children with an incarcerated parent are feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities, numbed by the pain and grief of their loss, and so alone in their journey. If this is you today, then this message is just for you.
You matter. You are important and valuable.
Your gifts, talents, and purpose are not negated by the mistakes and the imprisonment of your husband. It is not your job to fix it or to fix him. It is your job to be YOU – to be all of who you were designed and destined to become. Know that you are full of promise; and you are stronger than you think you are. You matter. You are courageous and one of the greatest heroines of all time! By choosing to stay committed, you fighting against social prejudice, embarrassment, disappointment, grief, and fear. You’re winning battles every time you go out in public and face the world with your head up. You are going to win the war for your destiny and your family’s future. You matter. The world is a better place because you are in it. You are inspiring others who are watching you go through this experience. You might be stumbling forward, but you are moving forward and that is what counts! Do not give up! You matter. You make your children’s world more stable and safe. They are counting on you, and you are capable of taking care of them and helping them recover. There is nothing you cannot accomplish!
Take time to rest, to laugh, to read, to just BE. You matter.
Ignore what others are saying about you. You are not defined by them nor by your circumstance. Know that you are not pitiful, you are grieving. You are not pathetic, you are determined. You see hope for the future. Give yourself permission to cry, and to laugh. Take a break and play. You matter! Yes, your dreams do matter. Your opinions matter. Your voice matters. Speak up. Stand up for your legacy. Do not let anyone rob you of your hope. Run hard toward your goals and then rest so you won’t grow weary. Never ever give up. Take care of yourself. You matter. Eat, sleep, work hard, smile, and rest every day.
You do deserve better.
That is your reason for never giving up, for striving so hard. It really won’t change your destiny if you let the dishes sit once in a while to watch a show on TV, or if you don’t fold the laundry tonight before you go to bed. What will affect you is toxic stress, unresolved grief, lack of sleep, not eating right, and not laughing on a regular basis. Schedule time to enjoy the journey and live your life. You matter. This is not your sentence to a secondhand life. This is your opportunity to live up to your fullest potential, to find out what you really want and run after it. You are capable of creating a better world for yourself and your family. Know that you are not disposable, unworthy, or incapable of making your dreams come true. You have permission to become as successful as you want to be, and you have permission to take breaks as often as you need them to reach your destination. Whatever you do with your life, the most important thing to remember is You matter!