Thursday, July 12, 2012

Unclenching My Life

Not me.
Control freak is a mild approximation of my personality.  I'm better than I used to be but I'm still a control freak.  I am uneasy when things are not in my control.  It's the reason I can't sleep on planes - that is the ultimate in having no control and there's no way I can relax in a situation like that.  It makes a red eye from the west coast a nightmare (pun intended).

It doesn't take a shitload of money on a fancy shrink to figure out where these control issues were born.  I grew up in a situation where everything around me was out of control.  As a result, I sought to control the things that I could control - eating, sleeping, grades, working, money, clothes...etc.  I was clenched in all ways for the majority of my life.

That's how I approached alcohol and food in the beginning.  I had very strict rules about eating and working out and drinking.  The only thing I did in an out of control way was smoke - everyone needs an outlet.  I thought I had escaped the addiction gene when, in reality, I had become addicted to control (and nicotine - but that one I acknowledged).  I had to be in control at all times.

That's why I was bossy.
That's why I was always the nuturer - it's controllable
That's why I didn't cry.
That's how I could compartmentalize my life so that I could survive.

I just clenched and made it through.  In fact, I still clench my teeth at night.  I've developed TMJ as a result and I suffer from daily headaches because of it.  Go figure.

Anyway, like everyone else on the planet I started to get old.  My metabolism began to slow and I began to put on a few pounds...not many...just enough to make my clothes snug and uncomfortable.  And all the things that I used to do (cut down on food, exercise more) were not working!  I was rising to the dreaded size 12 and I didn't like it.  (I was a 10 for most of my life and I thought I was FAT...ugh!)  I obsessed and cried and complained (kind of like I do now...hmmm).

Then, one day, I decided to just let it go.  I remember the exact moment.  I was on a business trip at a luncheon.  I had just broken down and purchased new size 12 clothes and I felt fantastic!  I wasn't constantly pulling and tugging and my waistband wasn't digging into me.  I decided that maybe I should just accept my body the way it was and relax a little.

Boy was that a mistake.  I didn't realize at that moment the monster that I had unleashed.

I began to slack off on my workouts.  I started eating more.  Even more disturbing, I started drinking more.  I was breaking all my rules in an effort to lighten up and give myself a break.  The problem was, I didn't have the tools to manage my life without constant viligance and control.  Consequently, I fell apart.

The next 10 years were a slow decent into obesity and alcoholism.  All because I lost control.  Or did I give up control.  Does it matter?

Here's the thing though - I am so glad I did!  I know that probably sounds insane but if I hadn't lost control and fallen apart, I would have never found recovery.  Right now I am not in a good place as far as my self esteem and confidence is concerned but I am more serene and happy than I've ever been about my life and how I want to live it.

I know that, with God's help, I will find myself again and my new self will not have to clench to maintain control.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life literally squeezing it to death in the vice that is control.  I want it to flow like my beloved Chesapeak Bay - quiet and flowing most days, turbulent and churned up when it storms, but easy to quell when it's over.  And after the storm?  I want the ability to look at what was churned up and appreciate it for what it is - life on life's terms.

Enjoy your day people.  Take some time to unclench.



  1. This is such an inspiring post for me! I've made a life of trying to control everything and everyone. It hasn't worked out too well. Great reminder to "unclench". Glad I found your blog, I look forward to reading more.


    Oh and PS: Loved your post about being weary. Osteen speaks to my heart, too. Damn, those small shovels. Here's to bigger ones for all of us. God bless.

  2. Good post Sherry . . . I grind my teeth and wake up with jaw-ache. I can't delegate either, the few times I've been too ill to keep on top of the "house work", I've had panic attacks and nightmares about losing control. I did used to clean obsessively, until I was alone with 3 kids . . . then I relaxed a little on the cleaning ;-)


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