“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you DO have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” – Steve Maraboli, "Life, the Truth, and Being Free"
Since childhood, having control in my life has been at the forefront of my mind. I’ve lived under the assumption that if I can place control over other people and situations presented to me, everything will go smoothly and all will be well.
Nine times out of ten, this need for control has only caused chaos and consistent stress that weighs on me heavily.
There are plenty of memories I have that could date back my need for control, but the one that started it all was the battle I endured with my eating disorder. My thoughts and actions revolved around the simple idea of, “as long as I have control, everything will be ok.” Even when my life went awry, I found a strange comfort in the ability to control my figure and weight.
My illness soon took control of me, however, and I was left with no option other than to get help.
After several hospitalizations and an agonizing battle with my eating disorder, I thought I had finally conquered what had previously conquered me. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Without any sense of self awareness, self care, or motivation to seek change, I traded one addiction for another.
Drugs and alcohol ran rampant in my life, yet another thing I felt I had a handle on at the time. Through a long period of alcoholism and addiction, I began to place myself in toxic relationships that left me victimized and ridden with high anxiety.
I sought out significant others that I believed “needed my help.” Although I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, my need for control lured me into these relationships with the idea that I could “fix” them. I felt a sense of validation when I put forth all my effort and energy into one person, acting under the belief that I could change their actions and motives.
My alcoholism and addiction finally led me to my bottom and I sought out treatment, introducing me to a life in recovery. My first year in recovery was spent focusing on how to live a life without being under the influence of a substance, and in this year I began to build friendships, found a healthy relationship with a significant other, and rebuilt a relationship with my family.
When I transitioned into my second year, I was under the impression that from that point on my life would continue on in a healthy and stable manner. It wasn’t until recently that I realized there were underlying issues I had not yet addressed.
A situation occurred that forced me to open my eyes to my need for control, something I hadn’t acknowledged until that point.
People in my network brought up the concept of control to me during this hard time, but I reacted in denial, believing that my actions were not aligned with how others were describing them to be. But as time went on, I became more willing to listen and recognize this issue.
I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. And through a series of difficult events, I was brought to a crossroad. I could choose to take a path where I continued acting in a controlling manner, or I could choose the path where I put forth the effort to focus on myself and my wellbeing. I chose the latter, and while it hasn’t been easy, it has been worth it.
It’s not easy to retrain the way one has functioned for the majority of their life, but through self awareness and plenty of work, I have begun to live a life centered in care and appreciation for myself.
I have no control over other people’s actions or how they may perceive me. I have no control over how certain situations in my life pan out.
What I DO have is control how I approach things, the ability to refocus my way of thinking and my motives. I have the ability to be there for ME.
I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday, explaining my frustration and pain over wanting a loved one to live the way I thought they should be living. He told me that however life pans out is out of my control. It will either go the way I’d like it to go or in a completely different direction. He said how my loved one decides to go through life is out of my hands, but what’s in my hands is how I choose to walk through this pain.
And he’s right.
No matter what is thrown at me, I will be ok as long as I take control of what I have power over: myself. I have the power to continue to walk down the road of self care and awareness, despite how hard it may get.
Because at the end of the day, I know it will be worth it.