The Agony of control

I feel SO tired. So, so tired. And yet I cannot let go. I cannot just say let it be and breathe deeply and live with whatever may arise.

For as long as I can remember, getting things done the way I thought they should be done, ordering things and influencing outcomes have been some my most powerful drugs. And probably the most devious aspect of these drugs has been their sugar coating: I am not controlling, I am a saviour, I love the ones I am trying to mold into my own organizing. Because, somehow, I know better.

Uncertainty scares me in a way that I can’t even explain. For everything I have dared to change in my life to make it the beautiful thing that it is at the moment, I am one of the most risk averse people I know. I don’t know if it is my “what if” disease (otherwise known as OCD) constantly at the root of my thoughts and predictions of the future or if it is the many, too many, moments of uncertainty and trauma in my early youth, adolescence and twenties. But whichever one is the cause, I carry with me a load that has become heavier that I can bear and that is influencing my beautiful life daily. If only I knew how to put it down.

When I think back to my twenties, I travel back to all the ways in which I made sure everything around me was in control before I took a next step. Were my grandmas ok, were my parents not fighting, were my brothers accounted for, not in trouble? And if the answer to all of these questions was yes, I allowed myself to breathe. For a little while. I don’t know the moment when someone, out there, decided I was the one responsible. As I write this, I feel it’s nothing out there …. it’s something in here … Worse.

In my early twenties, I understood that there were expectations about me and around me and so I pushed and pushed to make my life into what it was supposed to be. Got married, planned a beautiful wedding, went through hellish treatments for seven years to have a child and continued to attempt control of my birth family’s situation from amidst a marriage I was miserable in anyway. Looking back, I am quite impressed with myself. What power! If only I had been able to put it to better use … .

Let it go! The phrase that scares me like nothing else. Whenever I hear it, spoken to me as an invitation, whenever I contemplate it as a scenario, I see myself at a crossroads: do the easy thing – continue to control (better to say – continue to have the illusion of control) or do the hard thing, actually do it, let it go, and deal with whatever comes up. After all, what guarantees do I have that if I am constantly wrapped up in a ball of worry and anticipate any potential disaster, things will be easier to handle? And how do I always know what needs to happen? Does the fact that I believe it is the right thing to do make it the right thing do?

Parenting has probably been one of the toughest things to handle as the control freak that I am. And what a devious thing too … this mind of mine. Until recently when it dawned on me that this is nothing else but my not letting go of the wheel once more, I was convinced that I am being the better parent. That I am crossing Ts and dotting Is, making sure that my son is brought up in the best way possible. I have such a hard time allowing someone else (be it my son’s other mom, his grandparents, his father) to exist in their own particular ways in my son’s life. And I would tell myself that I am protecting him. That I am making sure he is brought up right.

One day, when I noticed my son was asking me about how to act in a very simple, easy to figure out situation, I realised what I had been doing and how it was influencing him and was paralysed. I saw myself as this mother hen, running around him constantly with a shield in my hand, trying to shelter him from this word, and this criticism and this consequence and this wrong decision he would make. And in my delusion of protection, I had brought him up unable to make his own decisions, constantly looking to me for answers and unable to take risks. Somehow, exactly the place that I was “protecting” him from.

Control is never care or love or … a way to live. For myself or the ones around me. It is the fifty ton load I carry every single moment of my life. Continuously. I am exhausted. And yet … my back is already hunched over from carrying this for a lifetime and I feel that if I drop it and try to straighten my spine it will break into million pieces. Oh, and who am I without it? Do I even know?

Photo by Agni B on Unsplash

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