I have a confession.
Its feels like a big one. Even though I suspect I’m part of a world-wide club. Male, female, young, old; its members are all different shapes, shades and backgrounds.
We may be anonymous and yet the tell-tale signs are there if you look carefully.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I can actually spot another (former) addict from being in their company for only a matter of minutes.
We try pretty hard to cover it up and it’s still there. Some days we pretend it’s not then BOOM! It grabs us.
I’m a recovering Control Freak.
On so many levels, I love to know what is going to happen, when and how.
Let’s not pretend it’s that gentle. I also like to know that it’s going to happen in the way I want, to my standard and in the order I expect it to. And when I say my standard – you can already guess it’s not the standard that has the label “slapdash” on the box. Because that is not the standard of a Control Freak.
Oh no, no, no. It has the well-earned stifling hallmarks of “perfect’ stamped across it. All the I’s need to be dotted and t’s crossed, even if that risks any compromising of joy, spontaneity and adventure. In fact, when I’m busy dotting said I’s, joy is barely registering in my mind. Must. Get. It. Done. Perfectly.
It’s not that I ever necessarily wanted to be like this – it’s just for a whole number of life shaping reasons my mind convinced me long ago it was the “best’ way to be. I believed that it meant life would work out well. That more of the ‘right decisions’ would be taken. That people would be taken care of. That things would look beautiful and then it would be EASIER all round. Right?
Yes, because of course control naturally leads to ease…
Control Freak behaviours are essentially a cover up.
A cover up for a deep-seated fear of uncertainty. A desire to “make sure” that everything is known in advance so that I already know everything is going to be OK. A delusion that I can get myself ready for anything that comes, protect myself completely.
Of course, it doesn’t show up like that daily; how can pre-bedtime routines of cushions plumping and dishwasher loading “so it looks nice in the morning” be linked in any way to “protection”?
And yet these little signs, routines, rituals give clues to a “need” for things to be a certain way. A direct link to “and if they are, everything will be ok”, “we will be safe”.
It’s a trap.
A mind made trap.
You and I both know deep down, it’s not even remotely possible to control everything. I mean, have we any idea how many plates that would need to spin for EVERYTHING to be controlled?
And even the things we ARE trying to control – well doing that is a full-time job if we let it be. (If you haven’t, I have and trust me, it’s exhausting. A bone tiring and soul draining experience. So take that “practice” of your to do list. I’ll take one for the team).
Why do I get the sense that you know this?
Because it’s at epidemic levels.
With all the craziness that’s showing up in the World right now, I see people in lock down.
They are hurting, so much is going on that’s beyond our understanding, there’s an internal collective scream of “whhhhhhhhhhhhhyyyyy?” and the answers are not forthcoming. So we tighten up a little more.
Controllers like to think that they can make themselves immune from the heart-ache.
It’s a terrible illusion that only results in more tension.
It’s happened to us on a deeply personal level very recently
After weeks of carefully planned, well considered medical tests primarily arranged to prove to my Mum that everything was ok. We got the results. We were wrong.
Everyone was wrong.
In a heartbeat, solid safe ground went to shaky.
Everything we thought we “knew” was immediately useless.
Just a big black hole with an even bigger label – C – on it. The diagnosis everyone dreads.
And if that wasn’t bad enough (and Lordy it already felt bad”) could we grab on to anything at all?
No. It’s not in a “good place”. Quite the reverse. If there’s such a thing on google of “top 5 not good places to get C” we’re on it. .
The world went into free fall.
No amount of control was going to change the impact of this.
Because that’s all we could do.
Sometimes it’s all we can do.
Some periods of our life are transitional – they almost change without us realising. We wake up one day and notice that we no longer feel quite the same about someone we once adored. We no longer have passion for the job we used to “live for”.
Some are mini chapters. We do what we do for a period then we stop. And we decide to do something else. Nursery. School. First job.
Others are Events that simply turn you upside down. They are unexpected. Unplanned. There is no going back. You are changed. In every way.
You can fight it, question it, over-analyse it. It’s still there. It has happened.
After years of meditation (otherwise known as Control Therapy) I can finally share a different experience:
You can accept it.
Not passively – there’s no denial.
Just be with it.
I’m seeing so clearly that from this space, there’s an inner calmness.
Yes, my wee sail boat is on rough seas, yes emotion is moving through me, yes sometimes there’s “ugly snot fest crying” with accompanying face swelling and strange snorty noises.
And it passes. Usually within minutes.
And I see, even this can be easy. There’s a choice.
I can choose to go into the future and immediately experience more fear, a deep desire to control and yes, be consumed by feelings of loss.
Or I can focus on what I have right now. A Mum I absolutely adore. Who is still here.
Meditating regularly is making that so much simpler and easier than it might first appear.
Because I know that everything will work out. Whatever work out means. Maybe there will be treatment options. Maybe there won’t.
I see no amount of control will change that. And it’s incredible – I now know this. It’s not an intellectual or “nice thing to say”, it’s a genuine experience.
In these unsettled times, there are gifts. Maybe not gifts we would choose and yet, gifts nonetheless.
We get to see that these are the periods in which we learn the most about ourselves and what the world really needs from us.
We get to see what’s important; in my life that’s people, truth, connection, making a difference.
We get to see, really see, what’s not.
We sometimes even get a chance to re-calibrate, to get in touch with the parts of us we’ve been hiding, make different choices. Alter our sails and change course.
Because the storm will pass. Everything does.
And yet when we lean in, when we take on “the hard stuff”, the most incredible rich experience is right there.
It’s not dependent on things needing to be or look a certain way.
It’s an internal knowing. That the world will continue to turn, the sun will still come up, trailed by the moon and some days there will be dark clouds.
I now know, really know, that the only thing we ever need to do is love one another and be IN THIS day.
If we do that every day, in every moment, whole heartedly, fully present, we get to see life so differently.
- We get to have the conversations we want to have, rather than sound biting on social media.
- We get to enjoy the relationships we already have, rather than taking them for granted.
- We get to meet strangers and connect with a smile and a genuine desire to help.
- We get to love and accept people for who they are rather than trying to change them.
- We get to share special moments, rather than already being on to the next one.
- We get to enjoy NOW. Even when there are tears.
I can honestly say that these past few days have been our very best yet as a family – so much laughter, intimacy, sharing. And trust me it hasn’t always been like that. We’ve let go of positions, past stories, old hurts and just let our time together be what it is. My Mum described it yesterday as magical.
Do we know what will happen next? Nope. And we are choosing to not know. To simply take each step and day at a time. To hold each other’s hands and trust.
And honestly? There’s such freedom and relief right there. Nothing to do, nothing to control, just SHOW UP. And LOVE. And BREATHE.
At Somebody Inside we are committed to showing up real, imperfect and vulnerable. We haven’t got it all sorted out. We won’t ever even pretend to. We simply share our experiences and inspirations in the desire it lift others. To show that there are infinite possibilities. That it doesn’t need to be hard. That we are all connected.
So today, our invitation?
Let go of one of those things you thought you had to do today to maintain the illusion of control, and pick up the phone instead and tell someone how much you love them.
It’s all you really ever need to do.
A former control addict.