I am a control freak.
But unlike many, I have no need at all to control anyone else. I am a self-control freak.
At first, you won’t notice. I am cool with everyday things, like other people driving or deciding where we eat. I am even fine with adventurous things where I am at the mercy of someone else, like tandem paragliding. I can let go on the outside.
I just can’t let go on the inside.
I keep my thoughts and feelings on a tight leash. I rein in anything reactive or negative. I weigh my words, my emotions, my connections. I restrain, I refrain, I withhold.
I am told I am difficult to get to know. Not surprisingly, by circumstances both in and out of my control, my life reflects this. I love my family and friends, but I move and travel so that they see me in a prodigal visitor capacity—fun, brief, contained.
I participate in spiritual and personal workshops and I share, but it is with people who have little significance or longevity in my life. People are kept safely at a distance either way.
And here is the dilemma: how do we self-control freaks learn to step out of ourselves? We do not allow people to get close enough for long enough to truly become trusted, to really form deep connections. The result is that without people we trust and are deeply connected to, we continue to control our inner lives.
But I want to be different. Under my self-control freaky self is someone who just wants to be loved. Someone who just wants to be able to let go. Someone who wants to be able to let you in.
I yearn for more than my own tightly wound world. I want someone to see inside me, to know me, to take me out of myself. I want you to fuck my soul out, wrap your brains around mine and be my body mate. Because I am so much more than a woman with a brain, or a soul having a body. I am not one third of each. I am all three, layered, each one the whole of who I am and yet none complete without the other.
But, because I am hiding myself, I do not come across as being open and available. The truly Conscious Man that I crave is not keen to take on this much baggage, this much work. They nibble, they test the appealing surface and then quietly fade away when they encounter the trenches, the barbed wire, the guards.
So maybe opening yourself in real life is the opposite of how it works in the movies. In the movies, someone barrels into your life and you have to learn—step by step—to open yourself up to them as they make grand gestures and romantic speeches.
Real life is not like that.
No-one barrels into your life when you are so protected, so closed off. When met with hesitation and an underlying remoteness, the movie-style grand gestures and romantic speeches fail to appear.
So (also unlike the movies), I cannot sit around and wait to be rescued. I cannot expect Ryan Gosling to keep chasing me when I won’t let myself go to him. There are no heart-felt “you had me at hello” speeches after I push them away.
It really is not fair of me to want him to hang in there despite all things, when I won’t give all things. I know that in real life, a Conscious Man will love me in spite of my flaws, if I truly show him. He cannot love me if I don’t let him know who I truly am.
In the movies, the wounded heroine is desired in spite of her defensiveness—perhaps he is even initially hooked because of it. He sees her and hangs in, knowing she is the gem he cannot live without.
But, that is not how real life works. In my experience, it is up to me to do the work. To grow out of my fear. To push the edges of my control.
The biggest catch to this piece of self-awareness is that I cannot change on my own. I need someone to want to see me, to want to know me, to want to be with me so I can practice coming out of myself, someone I can like enough to want to lose control with him, but how can I let myself like someone that much from my position of control?
I can think that I have done the work, but I will not really know until I am in that situation with someone. You can practice the dance steps on your own, but you won’t really be doing the tango until you have someone to dance with.
I have been in that situation, trying to be better than I have been before in a new relationship. The difficulty was that he did not really know how much of an effort I was making to be different, so my fledgling bravery, my clumsy attempts at opening myself to him just seemed like I really didn’t have my shit together, that I was not very self-aware and that I was not great at communicating.
He could not hear the screaming in my head as I pushed myself beyond all my boundaries and fell, panting and sweating over the line of telling him something real, over the line of being vulnerable, over the line of trusting him with my body, my mind and my soul.
All he saw was that I was awkward and seemed uncomfortable in myself when faced with true personal connection.
And so I go back to square one. Back to being by myself, knowing the dance steps I need to learn, but not being able to practice the Dirty Dancing flying leap with only one person.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Courtesy of Flickr/Bhumika.B