You ask me why I have a need to control things. The short answer would be my sister’s severe illness when I was such a young child. A young child whose parents thought she was too young to know all that our family was facing. I remember being snuck into the hospital (back then siblings were not allowed in) and seeing my sister, after many months of absence, now reduced to a human skeleton, not the happy normal-sized kid I was used to seeing. The guilt I felt was tremendous because I did not understand the situation. I was not told. I guessed a lot and interpreted things wrong. Guilt at wondering why bags of presents were being delivered to our home for her and not understanding why I was not thought of which in my young mind =not loved and not noticed. And how, I wondered even then, could I feel that sense of hurt and jealousy when she looked like death. There was also the guilt at hearing her scream when her shunt was cleaned daily and knowing I was okay. And even all these years later that guilt that rears its head in my professional life and makes me pass out on the floor when I hear a patient scream. I can look at anything but don’t let me hear the pain or I am a goner. In my book guilt can sometimes=need for control= if I am in control less chance of guilt/suffering/pain. I know its wrong but sometimes my mind still takes me back to that little lost/confused and sad child.
I remember during this time of sickness and confusion, being moved from place to place while my parents sat a bedside vigil. That sense of unconnectedness does things to you. I understand the need to do that now…as a parent…but I didn’t as a child. Yes, my parents were sure I was in good hands. I knew most of the people I was with but some were strangers. It made me scared because back then I didn’t know for sure what was happening and no one thought to tell me. And being left and having no control in where you are going invoked feelings of jealousy that made me wonder why my sister was so special and I was not. Everyone knew where she was…did anyone know about me?
Being so aware of death/illness makes you acutely aware of the little control you actually have so I guess I have spent my years trying to control all aspects of my life which we all know is an exercise in futility. Some people handle it by drinking. Others have sex with strangers trying to make a connection that somehow they feel they missed. Others drive too fast, take too many pills or eat too much. Others show no obvious issues with it at all. Mine is control. And control, and the lack of it I feel in our relationship, makes me frightened to death and sometimes I push for a resolution because I feel like that little girl again. Her world chaotic. Her world upside dow. Her world with no forthcoming answers. Her world in control of others and now the master controller is B. And I feel like 1,000 little scattered pieces laying about, disorganized, without the glue of control to hold me together.
You wonder why I feel the need for control.
I watched my parents divorce. All the heartache and stress that went along with a cheating husband. My mother’s pain written in a note I have to this day. And then they divorced and within three years my mother was dead at 50, killed, I believe rightly, by all the stress which took her, a non-smoker, in the form of lung cancer. And I look like her. I have the same moles. I have the same body type. The same nose. And I don’t want to become a statistic like her. Illogical I know. But still dead after all this upheaval… after all the pain none of which was her doing…though that is not the case with me. I have caused some of my own pain. But this I know: stress kills and I am sure it is killing me. Maybe like it did her.
I have enough stress with two children who have significant challenges in their lives. Autism = stress. And now my marriage teetering on the edge of HWY 1 with no guardrail and a 1,000 ft drop to the ocean below. And sometimes I wonder if I will just drop dead of a heart attack or will it be a slower more painful way to contemplate the end of life as I know it because this much stress is like a IV drip of poison creeping into my veins. And so I want to take back control from B in a misguided attempt to avert what was my mother’s fate and not have it be my own. Because I want to live free of heartache, being responsible as much as humanly possible for my own pain, when I must endure it, and not have it foisted on me like a drunken sailor grabbing me from behind and taking what is not his to take.
The mind is a funny thing. We know that what we may be thinking is be wrong.Screwy thoughts that we recognize as inaccurate. But those feelings are what trip us up and make us believe things that we know in our heads don’t make sense but to our hearts don’t matter. Our hearts often have a mind of their own, too busy working to keep the blood flowing, rather than worry about correctness of how it is being done. Yet, my heart hears unsaid words. It sees hidden emotions on a persons face. My heart squeezes the truth that goes coarsing through my veins and it ignores the science of it all. My heart stings. It whispers with every whoosh. And for the past few days, I would bet my bottom dollar that it has cracked in two, blood leaking into my drowning sticky soul.
You ask me why I feel the need for control. It’s because I no longer trust you to take care of my heart and the love that it holds. You have held my heart in your hands and you have not been gentle with it. You have treated it as callously as a hooker treats her next trick.I no longer trust you to take care of me the way I felt I was not taken care of when I was a child. I no longer trust that my pain is just pain and not leading to something more deadly as in the case of my mother. I no longer trust your words or your actions because you don’t love me and trust is the glue that holds love together.
You wonder why I feel the need for control? Because parts of that little girl remain behind and while I may be a very strong and capable woman sometimes that little girl is stronger when she faces what she perceives to be danger. And she tantrums and pushes for resolution while trying to gain control. Because she is unsure. Scared. Feels unloveable. And somehow she incorrectly believes that control will give it back to her and make her feel whole again. Strong again. Capable once more.
Someday I hope that someone somewhere will take that little girl her by the hand, thrust a mangy stuffed gray much loved puppy into her empty arms, and along with a great hug; tell her that it will all be okay. And maybe someday she will understand in her heart of hearts that control is an illusion and that the only thing she really ever controlled was herself and, finally, that will be enough and she can just let go and get on with living and playing hopscotch again.