Control freak is a mild approximation of my personality. I’m better than I used to be but I’m still a control freak. I am uneasy when things are not in my control. It’s the reason I can’t sleep on planes – that is the ultimate in having no control and there’s no way I can relax in a situation like that. It makes a red eye from the west coast a nightmare (pun intended).
It doesn’t take a shitload of money on a fancy shrink to figure out where these control issues were born. I grew up in a situation where everything around me was out of control. As a result, I sought to control the things that I could control – eating, sleeping, grades, working, money, clothes…etc. I was clenched in all ways for the majority of my life.
That’s how I approached alcohol and food in the beginning. I had very strict rules about eating and working out and drinking. The only thing I did in an out of control way was smoke – everyone needs an outlet. I thought I had escaped the addiction gene when, in reality, I had become addicted to control (and nicotine – but that one I acknowledged). I had to be in control at all times.
That’s why I was bossy.
That’s why I was always the nuturer – it’s controllable
That’s why I didn’t cry.
That’s how I could compartmentalize my life so that I could survive.
I just clenched and made it through. In fact, I still clench my teeth at night. I’ve developed TMJ as a result and I suffer from daily headaches because of it. Go figure.
Anyway, like everyone else on the planet I started to get old. My metabolism began to slow and I began to put on a few pounds…not many…just enough to make my clothes snug and uncomfortable. And all the things that I used to do (cut down on food, exercise more) were not working! I was rising to the dreaded size 12 and I didn’t like it. (I was a 10 for most of my life and I thought I was FAT…ugh!) I obsessed and cried and complained (kind of like I do now…hmmm).
Then, one day, I decided to just let it go. I remember the exact moment. I was on a business trip at a luncheon. I had just broken down and purchased new size 12 clothes and I felt fantastic! I wasn’t constantly pulling and tugging and my waistband wasn’t digging into me. I decided that maybe I should just accept my body the way it was and relax a little.
Boy was that a mistake. I didn’t realize at that moment the monster that I had unleashed.
I began to slack off on my workouts. I started eating more. Even more disturbing, I started drinking more. I was breaking all my rules in an effort to lighten up and give myself a break. The problem was, I didn’t have the tools to manage my life without constant viligance and control. Consequently, I fell apart.
The next 10 years were a slow decent into obesity and alcoholism. All because I lost control. Or did I give up control. Does it matter?
Here’s the thing though – I am so glad I did! I know that probably sounds insane but if I hadn’t lost control and fallen apart, I would have never found recovery. Right now I am not in a good place as far as my self esteem and confidence is concerned but I am more serene and happy than I’ve ever been about my life and how I want to live it.
I know that, with God’s help, I will find myself again and my new self will not have to clench to maintain control. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life literally squeezing it to death in the vice that is control. I want it to flow like my beloved Chesapeak Bay – quiet and flowing most days, turbulent and churned up when it storms, but easy to quell when it’s over. And after the storm? I want the ability to look at what was churned up and appreciate it for what it is – life on life’s terms.
Enjoy your day people. Take some time to unclench.