Such a small word – seven letters, only one vowel – it would not seem that a word like control could mean so many thing to so many people. But like simple things that exist in our lives, control can be both useful and devastating, depending on your point of reference.
I used to think that I liked being in control; to me, the definition fit with being organized, detailed, focused, managed and busy. It made me feel useful and powerful to be “in control” and it had rewards both financial and emotional. The control of work, home, kids, and life meant that things were going as planned, and when life was planned, nothing bad would happen.
Apparently control isn’t the way that life works.
Giving up perceived control is harder than taking control – giving away your “power” and allowing life to move forward without holding the reigns to all of life around you can feel hysterical, unless it is taken away from you by sheer force. When that happens, the immense power of the void of control is breathtaking, creating an empty space and reality unlike what was known of the past. That void, an almost surreal place to be, feels like swimming in a lake, at night, with the moon shimmer over the water. It is quiet, too quiet, dark and peaceful, yet underneath, the not knowing is more frightening than you can ever imagine.
Floating in that sea of dark, trying to brave within the peace, is a knowing that at any moment your reality can be shattered again by an unknown force hidden just beneath the depths of the darkness. You try to breathe easy, presuming that this new level of letting go is okay, but there is always that thought of what else could be lying waiting just below the surface, in the dark, ready to break the surface and destroy the peace.
And knowing that you do not control that dark force is scary. The waiting is scary. The peaceful is scary.
The world is different, and scary.
Control is a perceived feeling often projected by those that fear the unknown. Those that bear witness to an inner peace and acceptance of what may come in life are not plagued by the driving force to get things moving in a certain direction. The ability to allow what may come without trying to break the direction of that path is a gift; believing that you are where you should be without taking control of the ship can give one a sense of calm that others may never feel.
Having control, letting go of control, taking control back. A pattern for sure. A pattern that can become overwhelming when the control that is taken back is larger than before, and encompasses taking the reins of not just your own life, but the life of others around you. Now instead being in charge of most of the things in your life, you are now in charge of everything in your life – each thread is your responsibility; yours to manage, and yours to ensure that those in your circle are safe, secure, and attended to. This cycle of control is too much for anyone, and yet, it is repeated over and over in many lives – the lives of caregivers.
This level of perceived control is not sustainable. Understanding that while in the midst of it is virtually impossible; one that lives this life cannot see it for what it is. Perception of fatigue and illness, exhaustion and pain are warped by the need to care, support and nurture.
Control at this level becomes like breathing – it is done unconsciously, unwaveringly, and even in the moments of extreme anger and sadness, the reins of control don’t slip, don’t waver.
Control is ever-present.
In the center of those caregivers is a place seldom visited by anyone, even the individual themselves. Think of it as a small door, locked tight, rarely opened by anyone. Sometimes, in a rare moment of release, the locks are clicked, turned, and if one is very patient, that place locked up tight may open. The door cracks ev3r so slightly, and if you look carefully, and peek into the darkness, you will see that lake, shimmering in the dark. The moon is still full, reflecting off the dark calm waters – it is quiet. The reins of all that is held so tightly are guarded by the one that holds them; they are held tight to the chest, never wavering in the strength of the grip.
Sitting on the shore, watching the water with a yearning so deep it is painful to recognize its existence, is the one that bears the burden. They know that they can never go into the water; going to the peace means letting go of the reins, and that is impossible.
Although peace may seem so close, lapping at the feet of the one looking into the water, they will never enter.
Because letting go isn’t an option.