Control: 1) to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command. 2) to hold in check; curb.
How many of us believe we’re in control of our own lives? Or the lives of others? I sometimes get caught up believing it, about myself. But the truth is, far too many factors influence our day to day lives. And when we really examine them, control isn’t always in our favor.
I think my struggle with control really began after my RSD diagnosis. My daughter was a preschooler. She’d go to school and I’d pick her up in the afternoon. That she’s as level-headed as she is, is NO thanks to me. I had the two of us on the tightest schedule imaginable every day. My thoughts were on a loop: do (activity) and then I can sit down. Then (fill in activity) and I’ll be able to rest. This was every day. And she patiently went along with it, without much choice. Poor kid. I cringe when I remember.
Why did I believe that I had control? Maybe it was a coping mechanism? Maybe it was the stretched-to-the-limit thread that I grasped from morning til night, just to survive.
My pain was tremendous back then. So much was out of control in my medically-managed life. Maybe it’s a blessing that I don’t remember all of it. The fact that my husband and daughter didn’t run for the hills still amazes me and fills me with gratitude.
I wasn’t a nice person to be around. Outside the house, I managed to keep up the veneer of “everything is awesome!” But once we got home, the mask came off. I was miserable and in agony. The fact that no one at school ever knew what was happening shows the level of acting that I did, all so no one would know our business. Why?!?! Why was I obsessed with keeping control over that? Did it matter that I was having procedures all the time? To the folks at school? Mostly it was because I didn’t want our little girl to miss out on anything. I cried at the thought of her not being able to go somewhere with her friends or not being able to have friends over. So, what did I do? I’d let her have occasional sleepovers. She always maintained friendships with great kids, so I didn’t mind. Our apartment is large enough to give then space but small enough that I was aware of everything the whole time. I controlled it all. Until I didn’t.
At some point, the mask cracked. Everything hit the ground all at once. And I was faced with being honest, changing the way my health was managed and how I interacted with the people I love most in the world. So, I got the pump, my pain was managed and we started talking. It was honest and real, no acting for the benefit of anyone. It was just me.
Fast-forward to now, all of this is on my mind for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is that my daughter is growing into an adult. She’s looking at colleges! And I can’t make that huge choice for her. It’s not about what we like for her anymore. It’s about her. Maybe since she’s an only child, that fact is amplified 100 times.
Another was pointed out to me by a new friend, about life in general. We think we’re doing a great job, balancing loads of plates in the air. But when one slips and shatters, we’re faced with the harsh reality: I can’t control everything. I can only control my reaction to things, how I-me-myself handle various situations. As hard as it is to accept that, it’s the truth.
I’m trying to focus myself on the year ahead, trying to manage myself. Not anyone else. And it’s hard. Looking at colleges, dealing with work, planning holidays & events – there’s only so much control to go around. Plates will fall. They will break. More than a few will. And it’s not the end of the world.
Peace and painlessness,