Lose control and find courage.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the times in my life I sought control the most were also the times I had the least control. We all feel better about our life when things are happening as the result of our decisions and our actions. It’s when life is happening around us and despite us, not because of us, that the thread of control we think we have feels insignificant and unstable. For me that’s when the fear hits.
I can pinpoint the exact moment in my life when I felt the least control, and it makes me feel nauseated to even recall it. When the kid’s dad moved out of our house there were a few days or maybe even weeks when I naively thought we could split amicably. There was a point not long after that I realized I would need to find an attorney and I did. I didn’t care about things or child support or savings accounts. I knew everything was replaceable and I knew I would always find a way to make more money. My biggest concern was where my kids would spend the majority of their time. They were babies at this point, 4 and 5 years old, and scared and needing their mama. It hit me several months into the divorce process that I may have no control in my children’s future. And that instead a couple of attorneys, a custody evaluator, and a judge would decide.
There had been many times as a mother I felt little control before that moment. Before I even felt my firstborn’s baby kicks, when throwing up was a daily event. When I was in labor and that same little man couldn’t find his way out. After he was born and wouldn’t nurse and was colicky. When he finally started sleeping through the night and I realized I was pregnant again. When he hated that we brought a new baby home. Once the “no” phase hit. Potty-training. When there were tears because I had to leave before bedtime to work a 12-hour night shift. There are a million more. But nothing felt as terrifying as the realization that I would have to fight for my own babies.
I wanted to spend every day during that time paralyzed. But I was in grad school, I was working, and I was still trying to find little moments of control in my life as a mother. And when it takes nearly two years to get divorced, you can’t really stay frozen expecting life to wait for you. At some point, unintentionally I’m sure, the white-knuckle grip I had imagined I had on that situation loosened ever so slightly. And then some more and a little more. I was too tired to hold on that hard. And somewhere inside, quietly, I heard a voice saying, “it will all be alright.”
It took more courage than I thought I was capable of to trust it would all work out. But when it did, I understood that control is an illusion. It’s a way around fear. It’s something we tell ourselves we have, to feel better about the unknown. Except, the unknown doesn’t have to be scary. We don’t have to torture ourselves into thinking we alone have the power to harness our future into submission. I didn’t have the confidence or imagination to see how wonderful life could be at that time, but my unknown, what I am living now, is glorious beyond measure.
When you are ready for freedom in your life, find the courage to tackle your need to control. You will leave behind disappointment, blame, spite, embarrassment, and self-destruction and instead see faith, self-compassion, direction, capability, and love. In the end, when you release the chains of control, and accept life will come as it sees fit, you will find it will finally be all yours.