By Denise Barry
Hi, my name is Denise, and I am a Control Freak.
Well, in a recovering sort of way, actually.
I first recognized my need for control when my firstborn took her first step. I followed closely behind her as she toddled, arms outstretched, ready to catch her when she fell. I know this is a normal thing parents do, so as to protect their unsteady child. The problem I had is that my arms were stuck in this position until just a couple of years ago (my daughter is now sixteen).
My need for control didn’t end there, though. I tried to govern everything else in my life as well. I needed my house to be perfectly clean. I was fanatical about going to the gym. I was obsessed over every new wrinkle. I worried what people thought of me. It was all so exhausting!
My sister, Darlene, was a Control Freak too, until shortly before she died.
As she lay in her hospital bed just over two years ago, prepped for an emergency surgery the doctors hoped would save her life, Darlene seemed peaceful and relaxed. My family and I were all very surprised by this. Here was a woman who couldn’t sleep at night because she had so much on her mind—all of the things she had to do, all of the people she had to worry about, all of the accidents waiting to happen.
I felt confused by this. Where was the fear and panic now? Why wasn’t she trying to control this when it actually meant something for once? Not just something but everything! I felt angry. She was only forty-five years old! Why wasn’t she fighting for her life?
She never woke up from the surgery. Her husband told us afterward that she had known she was going to die. She had told him so before being wheeled away—calmly. I guess she had known this was beyond her jurisdiction, so had simply surrendered to it.
A few months after she died, when my grief had settled into a clumsy form of acceptance, I tried to put myself inside her slippers on that fateful day. What had it felt like to let it all go—to give up the never-ending rat race? I thought it probably felt really good.
I decided not to wait until my last moments to find out. I strapped on those slippers and surrendered. Just a little bit at first. I was immediately uncomfortable with it. I felt powerless, like I had no control. But it didn’t take me long to realize that there was a lot of freedom in letting go and it becomes easier the more I do it.
There are some things we can control, like what we eat and whether or not we choose to exercise. We can choose how we treat others and how we allow them to treat us.
Basically, we can control our actions and reactions, and that’s about all.
The most important lesson I learned is that living in fear (a.k.a. control) is not really living at all. It’s more like tiptoeing around life (when you’re not flat-out running away from it). It was empowering to give up the “power” I thought I had.
If I could, I would give my sister a hug of epic proportion and thank her for leaving me with this invaluable gift of freedom. Not just for myself but for my kids, as well. I know they’re much happier today, since I no longer follow them around, expecting them to fall. In learning to let go myself, I’m also showing my family that it’s ok for them not to have to control every aspect in their lives.
So let’s GO for “letting go” and really savor each moment. Be grateful for what was, is, and shall come and know that each circumstance, no matter how challenging, is truly perfectly beautiful. If we can learn to accept it and let it go, it will reveal a life-transforming message. Guaranteed!
Denise Barry is a Writer, Meditator, soon-to-be Reiki Master, and a Mom. She is a regular blogger on the website of best selling, self-help author and Positively Positive contributor Karen Salmansohn, where she shares her stories of inspiration, based on her everyday experiences. Denise is also a contributing author in the soon-to-be published book, Watch Her Thrive. Connect with Denise on Facebook and Twitter.
*Photo by nathangibbs.