In the Basic class I took through MITT, the lecturer, Jorge gave us an example that I’ve been leaving all over town. I’ve probably left it here already, but I’m okay with that. I’ve added my own embellishments, because that’s what I do.
When you really have to poop, you have to poop. If it’s a case of raging diarrhea, beware of white walls that beg for poopy painting. When babies wear swim diapers, you can see it as a dark poopy cloud in the blue of a chlorinated pool. When you’re constipated, you can sit and wait, and strain . . . You can get up and walk and try to relax . . . If you can’t go, you just can’t go. You feel uncomfortable and your normal flow is halted. You literally can’t control the shit that is in your body, so why try to control anything else? All we can control is our reaction and our interpretation.
There’s a story that isn’t mine to share but the end result is my kids needed me to come get them a day early. They need me to keep them for more than my usual custody days. They need me to be the Mom they deserve because this situation has required me to spend more time with the women that my ex surrounds himself with than I would like, and they are being the guard dogs he seems to need around me. I’m just that vicious. Grrr. Well, he keeps calling me a bitch but he has no clue that I could be far worse than I have been, but being kind is something I do for my boys and something he couldn’t possibly understand.
In their effort to avoid a fight (that I wasn’t in the mood for anyway), they have put plans in place to keep me from my ex (that I really don’t want to see). At the end of the day, you really can’t take away the rights of a wife and rightful next of kin. There are perks to the stubbornness that hasn’t started a divorce or legal separation. I can exert my authority where the other woman can’t.
I’m not talking about pulling a plug on anyone. It’s not that kind of a situation. At the same time, if I want to go to visit or get basic information, I have yet to be denied. I don’t need to know details other than how it will affect my boys. Is it serious? Not fatal. Is it going to put him out of commission for a while? Yup.
I had serious control freak issues for a while. I still do, but I’ve relaxed. I remember a few years back I was doing IVF and preparing for an embryo transfer. I was really big on sorting recyclables at home. I had two separate trash cans and would recycle cardboard, and plastic. I would neatly fold used aluminum foil and recycle that too. I was keeping a productive herb and vegetable garden. And I was doing IVF. Generally after a transfer, you are supposed to take it easy and let those embryos stick to calm, relaxed uterine walls. I was preparing for a couple of days, but that got extended when I had some spotting. For days I stayed in bed and my couple hired help so I could stay in bed and not worry about my kids. My help didn’t know about my crazy recycling or how much my garden meant. The moment I was off bedrest, I was trying to revive plants, and digging through the big city trash bins to sort it all. I was a mess. It was about control.
I love tackle boxes. I keep one for my jewelry making supplies and tools. I used to keep one for my jewelry too, but then I never wore different things. They’re out so I can see and choose now. I keep a tackle box for my sewing kit. Right now it’s a bit messy. Normally the threads are all organized and wound tightly. I brush out lint and dust. I keep all compartments full of extra supplies. It’s about control.
My garden is mainly dirt and a collection of rocks I pick up because I always find a rock that needs to fit in my pocket or go home with me in the trunk or front seat. Right now I’m never home and we’re in the middle of a gnarly drought. Once upon a time, I was growing fresh thyme (I need a new plant, it died), chives, flat leaf parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, mint and basil. I had a bed I loved and mulched with crushed cocoa nibs. I would walk barefoot in it and each step smelled like chocolate. I grew zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, lettuces, bell peppers, and peas. I loved that I could plant something and my kids usually wouldn’t pull it up. They even ate vegetables they helped me harvest. I did have to stop a sword fight that attacked a new fig tree. It wasn’t like housework. Just today I got home to the drying sticky mess that was a soda earlier today on a floor I stayed up last night to clean. I couldn’t control the natural disasters that looked like my sons and sometimes felt like sensory integration dysfunction to them. Gardening was about control.
As a daughter, my parents always told me what to do, but now it’s a constant expectation of what I should do. They are starting to nudge and give distance. They are starting to see me as an adult and they understand my rebellious streak. I have to remind myself that they can’t give me guilt. That can only come from within me, and if I feel guilt, I need to examine what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, because I refuse to live in shame for my choices.
As a sister, I still get told what to do. “Don’t post where you’re going all the time on Facebook . . . Stop going out alone to the beach.” I really don’t think anyone cares about what I’m up to. Otherwise they’d say something and I’d probably include them in my shenanigans. I sometimes catch the surprise on my sister’s faces when they realize I am actually an adult and capable of making grown up decisions and observations. I will always be the baby to my older three sisters and they will always want what’s best for me. They’ll always have a hard time seeing that it might look like what I do, rather than what they think I should do and that will have to be okay.
As a wife, I was told what to do but it often came with the weight of the ideal he held for me. He knew what kind of wife he wanted me to be and even if I wasn’t her, I wanted to be her for him. In the end, there was always a rub that left me raw, and I often did what I wanted to do and accepted he wouldn’t be happy with it. It’s how I got my degree, and built up my Kindle library. It’s how we got all of the camping supplies he now has. I did what I wanted and hid my actions or faced the music after the fact. How sad is it that I lived a life where I knew what I was doing was wrong or would upset him and the only balance was to do what I wanted and know it wouldn’t be okay to do what I wanted to do? I really am grateful to the life I get to live without him. Our struggles weren’t about money or housework, as much as he wanted to believe that. It was about control. We fought for it without actually fighting.
My obsessive observations of beautiful men . . . In my writing . . . On the street . . . In social media feeds . . . It’s all about control. It’s more than aggression in objectifying someone or calling out to him in a way that would offend me if roles were reversed. It’s about noting intricate details to avoid dealing with the real issue bothering me. It’s about control. There really is no mystery to my extreme boy craziness, and unwillingness to step into more than a glance or smile. I’m not dating anyone because then I would feel obligated to stop getting lost in a beautiful body and genuine smiles. I’m more into silly nothings that stay nothing. I prefer the chase of a crush. If it’s more I have to address my fear of abandonment and you can’t abandon me if it’s not serious. You can’t dump me if we were never together.
I’ve become a rebellious teenager. I see it in everyday moments and taking notice doesn’t always mean I want to change it. It’s been a balance I’ve been trying to strike, and I don’t mind moments where I’m behaving badly. It’s between taking control of my life, and letting go of what I can’t control.
Sharing my latest anguish and frustration with strangers and keeping those details to myself when it comes to people I have made an emotional connection with . . . It’s a way of distancing my intimacy from those I have already made a connection with and asserting control in the details that I can’t control. I see intimacy as a moment where there is transparency and I’ve invited you to see into me, as I see into you. I can step into it. I can dance in it. If it goes deeper than I’m ready for, the fear claws at me and I back pedal and try to avoid the risk that seems to pile up and around me until I’m unable to move forward. I’m still broken in many ways, and this is one of them. This weekend had great highs, and extreme lows and I’m still finding myself trying to stay afloat in it all but the details weren’t offered to all of the people I really do care about and have connected with. At the same time, all it takes is an empathetic smile from a stranger and I’ve spilled it out in a cascade like falling marbles. Rolling and spreading outward and impossible to control.
In my life, I am responsible for my choices as well as the consequences of those choices. It’s about taking ownership of the things that make me smile and the things that break my heart. I have a huge heart. That means it breaks beautifully and terribly almost daily. I refuse to hold back and control my outpouring of love. I’ve done it for long enough. I choose to live in abundant unconditional love. I love freely and without expectation. I give and if I feel my heart breaking or offense setting in, I remind myself I attached a cost to what I offered and love isn’t something you barter unless you’re into prostitution. There’s control in not expecting anything. In not expecting a return, I’m not allowing you to be someone I can rely on. I’m not allowing you to offer anything that you could potentially take away.
It’s about letting go of what I can’t control and holding on tightly to the way I look at things and my reactions to them. Saying goodbye when I don’t want to . . . Not having a voice in who spends time with my kids when I don’t have custody . . . Being the person that others want to fight with and putting my pride aside so I can be the mom I want my boys to have, and not the person I feel like being. Accepting that my plans will change and then deciding what about the change I want to be excited about. For example, I planned to stroll through a museum Saturday and instead got to sit with my sister and take her home from a surprise hospital visit. I got to check out the Self-Realization Center in Hollywood and I got to do it while being the sister I want to be. Sunday I planned to catch a beach sunset and spend some time listening to street performers. Instead I got to pick my kids up a day early. I got to take the control I wanted by using the title I’ve held for 16 years.
In moments where I completely give up control, I have moments of clarity and grace. These are times when I’m able to catch a corner of the big picture. Giving up control is work. It’s difficult. It’s rewarding. It’s what you do when you want to grow because it pushes you past what you are used to and that’s the only way to grow.