Since this is the last day of blogging about my faults, I find myself with quite the decision. Of the cornucopia of remaining faults, there are the sometime faults. You know, the things probably everyone struggles with feeling and acting on at least some of the time: neediness, competitiveness, jealousy, selfishness, over-generosity, care-taking, self-involvement, nosiness, etc, etc. I have also been told I can be intermittently emotionally unavailable, distracted, obsessive, compulsive, possessive, over-protective, etc. I mean, when I’m writing something, any major project, my partner has this game she plays–she says things that are just bat-crazy to see if I’m really listening at all, or if I’m just staring off into space imagining the next bit of the story, play, poem, etc. I usually catch the last two words and say, “What? Stop that!”
But, given this is the last day, I think I will bite the bullet and write about control. The C Word, as I have called it previously.
Here’s the thing about control: I HAVE A GERMAN MOTHER! I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT CONTROL! In fact, because I have a German mother, calling myself controlling is the worst insult in the world.
But. You do not want to watch television with me. I will do battle for the clicker, and I will win.
When I really work on it, I can let my partner hold the clicker for, oh, say, about 30 minutes in a row before grabbing it back. However, we have currently given up watching television, which conveniently solves that relationship difficulty, so I don’t have to talk about it in couples therapy.
In our very first session with the current couples therapist, my partner fell into idealizing me, and she’s going on about what great ideas I have, and the trips I’ve convinced her to take with me, and I’m like, “Yeah, right, because when you suggest stuff, I’m like, no. I mean, it took you months to convince me to go hiking in Blue Hills, which was great, and about a year to get me to go to the symphony, which was great.” And the couples therapist turns to me and said, “Does that have something to do with control?”
Duh. For this, we pay you $175/hour?
And, since not listening is a venial control sin compared to ordering someone around and pressuring them–the mortal control sin–I would like some credit for graduating to venial. I mean, I am my mother’s daughter, whatever/whoever help me. I am so afraid of being controlled, that I have a whole system of making sure I’m not even available for it. A lot of the system focuses on doing things independently and having a private inner life, but the minute I feel controlled or that I don’t have a voice or power–EXPLOSION!–I start fighting. (See, this is where being reactive comes in. Push that voiceless/powerless button and watch how reactive I can get.)
It’s so hard to be a kid. It’s so hard to be a parent. No one knows what they’re doing and we’re all growing ourselves up, all our lives. I’m sure my mother thought that dressing her 5 (soon to be 6) children in red, white and blue matching outfits was cute. I’m sure she thought sewing all the girls identical skirts was mothering. The fact that I longed to tear that skirt into confetti probably never occurred to her. I don’t know what she had against blue jeans or letting me choose my own clothes. All the things she didn’t see, didn’t have time to notice, or, noticing, assumed she could will away because she was the parent–I’m sure she had no idea how I would carry each of them in my heart like a stone.
I have written plays about couples. In those plays, the couples always remind each other of their parents. Because cliche or no, it’s funny and true.
My partner and I both had exceptionally controlling mothers that came from a generation of women who had no power, who didn’t work until later in life, who had to send their ambitions and talents underground, and then live them out through their husbands or children. So, we both dread the word control. As in, please don’t tell me I’m like my mother. And we both dread being controlled, because it’s painful and reminds us of feeling bound, powerless and voiceless. We long for both freedom and closeness, and we don’t know what to do with power and control.
Occasionally we find our way to partnering, and there is such freedom in that.
Occasionally, in my work, I find myself in a full collaboration with other people, and it’s nothing short of wonder.
The rest of the time–well, it’s battling for control, or letting go. One of the two.
I try to decide what’s worth fighting for, and some days it’s nothing. Some days it’s everything. Some days I throw my hands up and go blog about it. Some days I attempt to tell other people what I’m afraid of, and I listen when they tell me.
It’s like this–we know we’re all screwed up, we know we all want to control life and we all know we can’t. We’re in this together.
I don’t have any answers for this one. I think it’s just stand in the fire and let it sear through you, let it heal you, caamora, not conflagration. There is really nothing else to do, except to exercise self-mastery in our choices. For me, it’s best when I exercise those choices mindfully concerning my own behavior so I can continue liking myself most of the time. So I can be right-sized.
I can be really controlling.
But not all the time.
I am like my mother.
But not all the time.
I am loving when I can be.
Which I wish was all of the time.
Metta. May all sentient beings be free from suffering. May we be at peace with what is. Even if it’s being like your mother when you don’t want to be. Even if it’s the compulsion to take control, when you know doing nothing would be wiser.
The what is of being is calling to us. Because reality is so interesting, and we usually don’t know what it is. We’re so busy constructing stories, believing them, and letting them make us unhappy.
Let us be at peace in this one moment, where peace lives. Where all the faults and weaknesses and mistakes are peace, where all the wonder and love and generosity are peace. If it’s unconditional, it’s right here, right now, in the midst of every imperfection.
I can live with that.