I am a recovering control-freak. Yes, recovering, and very much a work in progress.
The past few months have brought into clear focus my need for control and the safety it brings. However, when I try to control everything (99% of which is out of my control!) I become exhausted, irritable, anxious and lose all sense of humour. Life becomes a series of to-do lists to be ticked off, with a rigid attitude towards the most basic of tasks (the washing must be pegged out just so) and if I am not spinning all the plates, whilst telling others what to do and being perfect in the process then I am failing. This downward spiral leads to me not feeling good enough, comparing myself to others and inevitably being unkind to myself. So, in order to cover up these feelings, I press on, do more and aim to be the highest achiever in all things! I am in control after all!
Just writing this makes me feel heavy and tired and tense; just think of the suffering this kind of living brings to my life and others.
So, how does this lead to my recovery and the title of this post? Well, it has been an ongoing process of acceptance and letting go - each day, moment to moment. When the realisation of my freakish need for control hit me just before my fortieth birthday, I knew I had to face it and move through it. Learning the truth about yourself is a hard process, re-learning how to do things differently is even harder and working against forty years of default settings can feel like pushing water uphill. However, for me, this process is far better than staying as I was, it is worth the sweat and many tears.
After a few years of progress, I was fully in recovery - accepting, letting go and moving forward. A daily practice that was serving me well. Then the pandemic hit and the world was turned upside down, and everything became like shifting sand - uncertain, unknown, out of control, there was no point on the horizon to focus on - grass in the wind. A control freaks worst nightmare!
In the middle of this storm, I spoke to one of my best friends, and she in no uncertain terms, as only a close friend could, reminded me of my need for control. She turned the light on, and fully exposed what I had been hiding from - I was back to my old ways, trying to manage, control, mitigate and worry myself into safety.
Since that conversation I have decided to release my grip; each day purposefully finding something to let go of. One day it was not drying my hair, letting it fall into the wavy fuzz that is becomes when it hasn't been straightened to within an inch of its life. Other days meant not obsessively checking the weather app and moving it off my home screen, I spent more time in the garden - where things are in a constant state of change and, yes, I pegged out the washing as randomly as I could!
Then two weeks ago, I took a real plunge into the unknown and booked a holiday for us as a family with less than one hour to think it through. It was a cancellation, no time to sleep on it, no time to make a pros and cons list! "Let's just do it!" I heard myself exclaim to my husband. And so with less than four days to go, the holiday was booked, I started packing and everyone got incredibly excited! This really was a leap into a new way of doing things - spur of the moment stuff, and it was freeing. The holiday at Brownscombe Luxury Glamping in Devon was the best holiday I have had in a long while and is a very special place - I will write more on this in another post - it was free of overthinking, overdoing and the need for control. Not only the act of booking something so last minute and unplanned released the grip of control, but the actual holiday itself was all about taking ourselves off to new places, getting lost in the Devonshire countryside (so many wrong turns on windy country lanes!) and a relaxed attitude to whatever the days would bring.
So, I am now looking for new ways in which I can be more spur of the moment, welcoming spontaneity into my every day and being more 'Que Sera, Sera' about life in general. I may write about these in future posts, but in the meantime the weather is looking good outside the window, now where did I put those clothes pegs...?
I love reading your comments, so if this post resonates with you or you have suggestions on ways of letting go and being more spontaneous in your own life, please write to me in the comments section below. If you enjoyed reading this, then you can subscribe to receive a reminder of each new post in your inbox.