I hate to label myself. I hate to be stuck inside a box and to form my identity around words that mean a type of behaviour, that don’t speak of my true self.
I do fall into this trap though, and quite often. Most recently, I began to investigate what the label of “Control Freak” meant to me. It is one I have been given, too often.
These words are so very difficult to swallow, and I have loathed this aspect of myself for years, despaired at myself, raged against those who dared to point it out to me whilst nursing the truth of my behaviour inside and letting it poison my natural, free spirit. I let my fear of losing control, control me. How funny it is, that the very weapon we turn onto the world out of fear of the unknown, is such an effective weapon to hurt the wielder.
I have been the girl who can’t let lovers out of her sight, that stews in needle-like anxiety when going out with friends. The girl who, when plans go awry, becomes inadvertently emotional and upset. I will immediately begin constructing new, more elaborate structures to control the uncontrollable situation, person, event. Anything to fight the rising panic within. I am the girl who gets angry to the point of violence, panic, hysteria, who loses all sight and caves into intense emotion, when things become out of control. Who, when everything seems out of control, begins to control even the smallest details of her life to make up for the feelings inside that she can’t control.
It’s a vicious cycle.
It drives people away—pushes them into the corner, has them feeling strangled, shackled, and all too soon, those people abandon us, affirming our insecurity about ourselves, that the world is not a safe place, that we are not enough, and pushes us even deeper into self hatred.
About two years ago, I began to take steps to understand the root of this behaviour, and how to change it.
I began studying a three-year course in astrology, to know myself, and to try and perhaps at least know what would happen and therefore have a measure of control over the event. Funnily enough, the studies have eventually taught me that nothing is actually within our control, that certain things are bound to happen, and the only thing you can control is yourself.
Seems easy to understand, intellectually. But, you have to live this principle. Every day.
I went further back into my past, and finally began to understand the circumstances that had shaped this “Control Freak.” From constant moving, to raging addiction that prompted me to grow up far faster than normal, I became the responsible child, the little adult. I took pride in what I could control, and created routines that were “safe” to contain the chaos that constantly raged around me.
And so, little miss Control Freak developed. I learnt, through my childhood, that men always controlled women, and I cringed inside for the powerlessness I witnessed. I vowed to myself to never be in that situation, and subsequently, tried to control every romantic relationship I had as a young adult.
Somehow, addiction and control intertwined for me extremes of chaos and order, and after years of flinging myself in and out of destructive relationships with addicts, people who could not, or would not, control their tendencies, I slowly came to see that these people were a mirror of me.
I saw how I regularly lost myself, abandoned myself, to drugs, love and booze. Just to feel free of the control I had over every other aspect of my life. Weekdays had me working diligently from nine to five, and weekends losing myself on any dance floor I could find. Here was a raging woman, desperate to break her bonds, always seeking outside, projecting everything inside onto others. Judging, condemning—then doing those same things.
I was an extremist, unable to find the balance within. I was so confused.
Slowly, with the awakening of consciousness through astrology, through yoga, meditation and with this understanding of myself, and finally through a lover who is the first one not to be an addict or destructive in any way, I have begun, slowly, to break free.
I began to feel great compassion for the child who never had a safe, secure environment to grow up in. The child who had to become the adult, and therefore the control freak. Controlling behaviour is directly linked to insecurity, from where it is birthed. Insecurity about self, about the environment, about being loved, wanted, seen.
I began to, in the face of choosing to control a situation or event, choose differently. Recently, one of my biggest moves was to attend a 10 day Vipassana course—something I’d never have done if I was in a relationship. What would they do when I was gone? Take drugs? Forget me? Cheat on me? Stop loving me? What would they feel if I wasn’t there to manipulate their feeling and control their actions?
I faced my biggest fear over those 10 days. Letting go, and letting God, as they say.
It was no easy ride. Coming back, I have had breakdowns to rival any breakdown. The Control Freak has reared a looming, large and ferocious head and threatens to eat me alive, and yes, I lose it. I lose control.
However, it has become quicker and quicker to let go, to come to consciousness when I am behaving badly and to renegotiate my ship’s course. It’s not resolved, but I now welcome opportunities that have me testing out these newfound skills. I ask for situations in which I can rewire the conditioned patterning of my subconscious, so that I can be reborn anew, freer, stronger.
I encourage you, all of my fellow “Control Freaks,” to do the same. Forgive the child within, and offer him or her a safe place to be. Forgive yourself when you are feeling insecure, and realize this isn’t who you are—and that the chaos is no longer real.
Do what you fear most: make choices that you know go emphatically against all these instincts. And realize these instincts are fear driven—trying to protect you from “harm.” Thank them, and make a new choice. Realise, this is not your true self, your beautiful, inside self.
Leap, and the net will appear.
Author: Margarita Stoffberg
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Draigona Vampire/Flickr