About Me

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

controlling the control

Control is a funny word isn't it? We all like to think we are in control of our lives, but really we're not, even when we think we are. Our jobs are in the hands of our bosses, or the company that takes them over; our children determine whether we can go to work, or even out - a day of sickness can ruin many a good plan; and our futures are usually controlled by money. Does that sound rather cynnical? Obviously as a Christian I like to think that God has rather a large hand on my life (metaphorically speaking. although actually he probably does have large hands..)

Control is something that I have had 'issues' (for want of a better word) with for rather a long time, and I have talked about this before, but something I read today has made me question it some more. (gosh I'm sure you're all wondering when all this endless reflection will end. Probably when I get a job and then won't have the luxury of time 'to think'...) So lovely Lesley included Sophies blog 'a new name' on her wednesday list today, and I was interested to read about her battle with Annorexia. Partly because I suffered from an eating disorder when younger. Her story spoke to me in so many ways. I recognised many of the things she felt, from my own life. I have never really got to grips with with I had eating issues. I don't like using the word annorexia - I think that even now I find it hard to admit to. It's like a label and I see people like Emma who suffered far more than I did and think, well that wasn't me... But that's the thing about mental disorders is that actually they affect individuals in so many ways and on so many levels.

Anyway, I digress, the thing is I never really got to grips with why it started for me. People often talked about needing to be in control, and books on the subject that I read at the time strongly suggested that too. But I could never see it. I actively rejected that. It's only as I became older and became a complete control freak (really, I was/am/trying not to be... a TOTAL control freak) that I recognised it. that need to be in control. of my life. of my family. of others around me. I would try to manipulate situations to my way of thinking. not deliberately of course, but that's how I would subconsciously behave.

In terms of my not eating properly I suffered on and off for years, probably 10, before really having a decent handle on it (although it is still there in the back of my mind, always will be...) and the thing that finally sorted me out was being pregnant and having children. But whilst I began to eat more normally, I can see now that that need to control just manifested itself elsewhere. Which is exactly what Emma talks about in her story. As I read it, I suddenly realised, gosh that is me! It wasn't really about my size at all (not initially anyway). I was always a slim child, I never had a problem with food or my size. That was what I could never understand. Why did it start when I was so thin anyway?! But that's just it. It wasn't about size, it was about control. And that need to control just began to come out in other ways. I'm not sure even now where that need came from. I'm not sure I need to know actually, now that I recognise it. But I think a few contributing factors probbaly combined. Teenage hormones obvsiouly cause so much confusion - as Emma puts it, your body stops behaving. My teenage daughter said to me one day, in conversation about an outburst she just had, 'I can't help it' and the thing is, she's probably right, she can't. Hormones appear in quantity randomly, for months on end before getting into a cycle. Bits of you grow, bits of you start behaving differently. no wonder teenagers have so many issues.
On top of that, my mum was rather controlling too. I had no one I could really 'rely' on. Those around me betrayed my trust regularly. I wasn't supported at school. Not that I am blaming anyone. The opposite, in a way that's why I dont want to 'know' why this happened, because I don't want to blame anyone. It was no ones fault. It happened.

So the realisation is, that for as long as I can remember I have had this overwhelming desire, need, to be 'in control'. It was a joke, before I realised the truth of it, my husband jokingly called me a control freak. I laughed about it. we laughed about it. but now I can see the truth of it!
I know that I am dealing with this. and the funny thing is that for the first time in a very long time I actually do have very little control over my life. I am entering a vocation that I would not have chosen for myself. I don't know how long the process will take, or whether I will even reach the end. We may have to move house (almost certainly at some point). and to cap it all off, I am ill and need to rest. I keep saying how I am dealing with this, how freeing it is to not be in control. all of which is true, but I realised yesterday that I am not done with it yet! An email from my DDO highlighting timetabling for vocational enquirers, suggested that I won't be able to start studying (God willing) until Sept 2013. Seems a long way off. and the email totally threw me. Even though I wanted the process to not be too fast, I had it in my head that I would start Sept 2012, it fits with my daughters exams, with us, with me... and instead of saying 'ok, well, it's in Gods hands, I have to trust Him in this', I went into overdrive. My head filled with thoughts of, well how can I get there in 2012, what can I do to speed it up? If I do have to wait, what new thing can I do in the meantime, what project could I start to keep me going...
So I failed. It was like I was put to the test and the very first thing I did was try to plan things my way.

So I guess I'm still a control freak after all. Although one in recovery I hope. Recognising it and seeing it as a 'sin', are I think the first steps...


Lesley said...

I love this post, and the one on apologies.

I'm trying to comment more having been reprimanded by Gurdur.

I hope you never stop reflecting - I think a priest needs to.

Your posts remind me of something that I thought once - that EVERYONE should go forward for selection in the CofE, because it changes us so much and makes us see ourselves in new ways, ways that lead to healing.

Red said...

yeah I know what you mean, finding time to read them is hard enough. finding time to comment as I would wish to, is sometimes impossible! thanks though, for your comment! appreciate it :)

Emma said...

Hi Red

Thanks so much for sharing your story. What a picture of gospel grace at work - not that we are the finished products, but demonstrating how we keep coming to the Lord as He gently reveals to us our hearts. And we all fail, every day, but that dependence is our hope - a reminder that we can't control even our repentance! I'm sure that this process, though painful, is one of the most important bits of your vocational training - producing among other things a humility and honesty that will help others in powerful ways. Plus, it doesn't get graded! :-)

nicolahulks said...

This is amazing as the EXACT same thing happened to me this week, seriously! I got the 2013 bombshell dropped on me and totally freaked out. I guess in such a crazy process you try to find things to hold onto to feel a bit less out of control, but as you say the process (and lifestyle) is never going to be without these challanges. But it's hard though isn't it!

Lesley said...

Poor you - I think the selection process is completely overwhelming - having your guts pulled out and sifted through. It is no wonder we want some control.

My worst moment was post selection when I was waiting to find out the answer.... It took ten days, TEN days to tell me when I knew that they already knew.... I turned into a compulsive email checker.... don't think I have recovered!!!!

nicolahulks said...

Absolutely I think in my head I create a 'it will be ok because..' scenario and then it gets completely blown out of the water and I'm like 'what am I doing????!!!'

There's also the rest of life to think of, family etc. It's so nice to know that other people feel the same, it can be so isolating trying to struggle though on your own with all these big questions and life changing moments on a weekly basis!!

I'm sure I'll be better for it on the the other side, wherever and whatver that may be!

Red said...

Hi Nicola! lovely to see you here (love your blog...)
so glad I have found someone else going through it all too, yes it is bloomin' hard isn't it?! Feel like I am going 2 steps forward then 3 steps back sometimes! as Lesley says, like your guts being sifted with a fine tooth comb.. It will be worth it though. Bit like pregnancy actually... long time of waiting and preparation, some learning, and what's more your emmotions are all over the place but it's all worth it in the end. well I hope it will be anway ;)

and Emma thanks for your lovely comment :)