Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Control Freak

Letting go is hard for me.

Quotes on my sidebar remind me to keep working on it, that it's worth the struggle.

Sometimes it seems my breath is held more than it's released, held in an attempt to will people, events, nature to do it my way. My way. Because, of course, I know best.

No I don't. I just know how life's events have gone before. Safety in familiarity, I guess. Control a situation and the outcome will be right. Hmm...

But there are other ways. There are ways my infinitesimal buffet of experience knows not.

And I want to know them. I want more, I want different, I want...I want...I want...

...to relax.

To let my breath have its way. Deep. Long. Free.

Yes, free to discover new orders, new responses, and new people in new places. To allow life to come to me in its fullness, good and bad, to teach a willing heart. My heart.

I'll get there.

If I just let go and...breathe.

(Seasons change - and I am flowing with them. It's a start. CSA produce declares - fall is here. Oh yeah.)


Sandy said...

Cherie, Your words not only tell, but show one step at a time. The subject is one I think about everyday. Conversations in my head of letting what ever it is I'm fighting, go.

Like Nike says, "just do it." They forgot to tell us not to think.

Cherie said...

Yeah, Nike is speaking to non-thinkers, non-ponderers. Ha!

Thanks, Sandy. Sometimes I go through long phases where I'm pretty relaxed, focused, and willing. Other times, gritting my teeth until they hurt. Like you said, one step at a time.

Bridget Jones said...

That's a tough lesson, huh? Took me two burnouts to learn it.

I must be hard headed, I guess!

Cherie said...

Not hard-headed, BJ, human.

tshsmom said...

The hardest part, for me, is admitting that I'm a control freak!
My family is getting good at pointing it out when I get out of line.
I don't know why I keep reverting back. It's really not any fun and makes me miserable.

Bridget Jones said...

Hang in there! I'm from a family of control freaks...lemme tell you the letting go is well worth it. Hard habit to break tho.

Tshsmom, if you didn't control, you'd never get stuff done. And your productivity is so awesome. But if it makes you miserable...maybe it's just a habit?

Damn I don't want to be a shrink here. But maybe others depend on you guys doing that too? Just a thought.

deanna said...

Hi, Cherie. I see you're still working through life with wisdom and grace (bits of sadness at times, too). I'm glad to be back for real autumn weather. Changes are always brewing...see you around soon, I hope.

thebookbaglady said...

I love, love, love the island photo at the top. Where is it? Love, Gretchen

Cherie said...

Tshs:I hear you. And my family has mastered the call to point it out to me, too. I remember one time years ago I was frustrated at Tom and muttered in front of the kids, "He's so controlling!" They all instantly gave me looks and I knew exactly what they meant. Put me right in my place.

BJ: You can be my therapist anytime! I think you've hit on something here. I mean, if I didn't organize and motivate and problem solve, well, a lot of stuff wouldn't get done around here. At the same time, would that be so bad? A fine line to walk and a role I'd rather not have. Alas, I'm good at it. Sigh.

Deanna: Been thinking about you! Glad you made it home safe and sound. Yes, I'd like to see you some time, too. The girls see James all the time. You came back just in time for the cooler days. Up till now we were having a glorious Indian summer. The rain is pleasant thought, isn't it.

Gretchen: The photo at the top of the blog was taken in my favorite place in the world: Alaska! Though I have many photos of my own from our trip there, this photo a friend who lives there took and gave me permission to use. Glad you like it!

tshsmom said...

Good point Bridg!

I guess the crux of the matter is that I know the most efficient way to accomplish the tasks I organize. I have a tough time stepping back and letting my family do the tasks THEIR way.

Cherie said...

That's me, too, Tshs. Efficiency and all that. And when others try to accomplish something I've thought out - and they don't do it the way I think it should be done - I stress. I get frustrated when it takes too long, or is wasteful, or confused because I can do it smoothly, quickly, and efficiently. Ugh!

BUT when I do let go and let others have at a project or some some such I find that often they do things differently and BETTER, or at least new and surprisingly refreshing. Letting go - realizing that things don't have to go my way frees me, when I do it. It shows me new options, new quality, and new priorities.

A hard hard lesson!

cecily said...

Hi Cherie... I haven't commented for ages, but I've been sneakily visiting. Right now I should be writing an essay, but hey... I'm writing a comment.

So: Hello fellow control freak! I went for a massage on Tuesday. The masseuse said 'you seem like such a relaxed, calm person' and I thought 'yeah right... that's cause I pretend, but on the inside I am tense as anything' which might have explained the little rocks in my shoulders!

So, from one control freak to another - I am learning to breathe too. (I could also echo the massage therapist and say your blog seems so calm and relaxed! Now I know why hey... the therapy room!)

tshsmom said...

That's EXACTLY my problem Cherie!

Another plus to letting go and letting them do it their way, is the boost in self-esteem. I find that my family feels very resentful and useless when the control freak in me gets carried away. As a result, they back off and don't do anything, because it won't be good enough.

"Letting go - realizing that things don't have to go my way frees me, when I do it."

The operative words here are: "..when I do it." WHY can't we just keep doing it?!

BTW, this post inspired me to let Z sand and stain the CD/DVD shelf for our living room. He did such a wonderful job on his computer desk, even though it was his first attempt.
For some reason, the control freak in me thought that only I could do a good job on this project.
You should have seen Z's face light up when I asked him to finish the shelf for us!

Cherie said...

Cecily, how I've missed your comments - always so thoughtful. So, we inhabit the Control Freak Club together, too, you and me. As you can see we are not alone.

I have long spaces of calm and a permanent area of me that is peaceful and relaxed. It's not pushy though. The peace usually lets the freak have its way, knowing that the controlling me will simmer down once its done its blustery deed often stomping on others' toes while accomplishing some 'important' thing.

I like the thought that this blog could serve as a therapy room - a nice, safe place where we can all look deep inside our own selves without judgement, learning about our hearts, and hopefully find solace there - and it's FREE! ;)

(Your massage sounds divine! Wish I were there.)

Tshs: Yeah, when I do it. I'm trying to yield more to the doing it, and less to the blustery control freak.

Thanks for sharing about Z and the sanding and staining! Wonderful! Such a good thing you did there. It's hard to watch a novice attempt a thing you've mastered, I know. But how will the kids ever learn to become masters if we keep standing there, hovering, and at the first wobble saying, "You're doing it wrong!"? This is how I was raised - with the hovering and the snatching away of the job with a, "Here, let ME do it!" Makes a person not only inexperienced but like you said, low in the self-esteem.

What you do for Z when you stand back and let him have at it is PERFECT all the way around. And forever he will look at the desk and the CD rack with pride that HE did it. And that you let him.

I guess we are getting there, huh, you and me. Baby steps.

You encourage me!

(Yesterday I had reason to remove the vases, photos, lamp, doo-dads from the entertainment center. Because of this post I told Cassie, Caroline, and Tom that they could put things back however they wanted and I would be happy with whatever they created. Secretly I was thinking, "I'll grit my teeth and live with it, even if the result is unbalanced and cluttered." Stupid me. They arranged things completely differently from what I would ever have imagined and IT LOOKS BEAUTIFUL. This is what I need to remember. I don't know everything, and there are other ways besides my own. The things I've missed out on because of grabbing the reins for myself all the time.)

tshsmom said...

Your entertainment center story is so funny, because I did the same thing last year. After we put our Christmas decorations away, L was carrying in the things that go on the 2 cabinets in our living room. He said:"I'd put this stuff back, but I'll probably do it wrong." I suddenly thought, it's L's home too, why can't he arrange something the way HE likes it? Like your family, L did a wonderful job and I left things that way. Yup, baby steps.

My Dad is a get-out-of-the-way-I'll-do-it parent too. I have tried very hard to step back and let my kids make the mess that goes with learning. But there are still plenty of other things that I have trouble stepping back from, especially at work.

I guess we're both still a work in progress, huh?

Cherie said...

Tshs; Uh huh. Work in progress with our whole lives to learn and improve. Not a bad deal - as long as we keep paying attention, right?

It is hard to step back in some areas, you are right about that. But there are pay-offs when we do. Tom, who is even more of a control-freak than I am when it comes to certain things, allowed our daughters to paint a couple of the cupboard doors for our kitchen. He'd done a perfect job sanding, priming, sanding, painting, etc. on the ones he'd completed. Well, the girls wanted to help. He wasn't going to let them, but I persuaded him. (The man is the head, the woman is the neck - that turns the head!) We have one cupboard door that the girls painted that has a little sort of swish on it that no one would notice but Tom. He didn't notice until he hung the door and the light hit it. He was going to take it down and re-do it. Again, I persuaded him to leave it there and let it serve as a reminder for us and for the girls that they were a part of our kitchen renovation, that they did their best, and that their contribution is more important than a little swish. He looks at it now and smiles, runs his fingers over it - remembering the willingness of the girls to help. And I remind him to remember that he let go of something minor to embrace something major!

Yes, baby steps. For all of us.

It helps me, Tshs, to know that you are out there having the same sort of struggles and victories that I am.