Control: the ability to manage successfully and competently; a means of limiting or regulating.
I'll admit it. Sometimes… (ok, maybe a lot of times…) I'm a control freak. If you read my last post, you'll remember that once upon a time, as a six-year-old, I chose to stop feeling. I had to be in complete control of my emotions for fear of becoming a volatile and vulnerable human being.
I found myself a lovely mask to wear. I became a perfectionist and a straight A student. I found that if I kept myself busy making sure to do everything just right, I'd not only avoid dealing with things, but I'd also evade any confrontation.
My first grade school year concluded with an experience that put a weird twist on control. It was Field Day—I'd been looking forward to it all year! I was the second fastest runner in my grade, next to my buddy Brad, and I couldn't wait to participate in all the fun and games. And it was all fun and games. Until… the high jump.
Mrs. Pole* held one end of the rope. And Miss Poles* held the other end. At the beginning of each round, they would raise the rope a little bit higher. Casey and I had beat everyone else out of the competition. He'd clear the rope, then I'd clear the rope. And on and on and on. And on and on. Pole and Poles got sick of the game, so they raised the rope in the middle of my jump. I got all tripped up and fell on my face. I was completely humiliated.
Twenty years later I began to wonder why I was quite good at many things, but not excellent at anything. And why did I tell my parents I didn't want to be valedictorian in high school and then make sure I had enough A minuses to seal the deal?
I began to understand that this childhood experience had taught me a new way to control my life: self-sabotage. I became the perfectionist that kept herself short of perfect to prevent someone else from forcing her into a less than perfect state, thus humiliating her in the process. Not that anyone could ever really be perfect anyway.
After all these years, I've finally learned that my being in control is actually being out of control. For example, my excessive control of emotion left me unable to feel emotion—even the good ones! It's been a long road back and I've still got a hefty distance to travel. Also, my need to perform well enough to always be only second best has held me back from countless great opportunities in life.
As I strive to give up control, I find myself better able to manage my life successfully and competently. Allowing myself to feel pain and fear is what brings me back to myself and generates power for greater love and happiness. Let go and let God.
*Names have been changed