To Control Or Not To Control?


I was talking to my former husband (FH) today and we got on the subject of controlling people. The paradox of a controlling person is that they are either shocked by the news or worse, they revel in it and consider it a compliment. I grew up in a family who’s control m.o. would curl your eyelashes (or uncurl them if the case may be) and I’ve spent my life recovering from them. They are of the brand that beats their breast with pride on receiving the news. I’ve had to do recovering from my own control issues as well. I’ve worked hard and long to let go of the fantasy of control. When I am around angry, control freaks the old radar becomes more active. I find myself mentally strapping on the radio headset and preparing for take-off. I got a reminder this week that my estranged family is alive and well and are still honing their skills on personality suicide.

We all know how difficult it is to maintain relationships with those who know EVERYTHING, do EVERYTHING right and are determined to make sure you do too. That never happens though, their pleasure comes in knowing that you can’t possibly know as much as they do. I know I have lost relationships in my youth because of my denial around this issue and I’m sure my FH remembers some of those traits well. Those are the consequences of this lovely plague on humanity.

As I challenged those notions and behaviors that were so well modeled for me, I came to a surprising conclusion. Fear is (and was) the driving force behind the control and anger I was spoon fed. Learning to detect healthy and appropriate anger versus the controlling and domineering kind was not pleasant or easy. Being vulnerable instead takes some getting used to. People who like control usually mock feelings, and have very little patience for them; feelings are a weakness they can’t afford. It is something I will always have to be on the look out for, a daily inventory if you will. I made a commitment to leave that heavy armor behind. The price in relationships is too high.

I had lots of legitimate, valid reasons for reacting the way I did. I began to see that it was a reaction to my own fear of having “no control” over the grown ups that were “out of control”. What is the solution to all this, you may ask? It is surprisingly simple, but hard to do. You give up being in control and then you walk through the fear. I didn’t do it alone. I had help spiritually and clinically. It is a very crafty, sly devil and thrives on false arrogance and grandiosity. A dose of humor and a lot of humility goes a long way in defeating it. Virtually everyone on the planet practices the dance of dominance ( or it’s twin, passive-aggressive). The secret is NOT to rehearse it.

I spent a glorious day weeding, planting and digging. It was gorgeous today. I put together a mom’s day planter for Telv and also made one for myself. A nice poached salmon for dinner with sun tea, a movie, a book and a nice phone chat with FH and my son was icing on a wonderful day. I’ll talk to my other gifts, Elyse, (and you) tomorrow.


2 responses »

  1. Marsella, There is a certain peace in the present time, in the midst of struggling with past problems. You are providing an insightful format for people. Thanks for including the little drawing of the birdhouse. Sincerely, Richard

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