My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”
So last week I wrote about manipulation, and how I have caught myself trying to manipulate situations in order to receive affirmation.
The other side of manipulation is control.
I don’t tend to manipulate situations in order to gain control, though, so I’ve never considered myself a controlling person. However, in thinking it over so much lately, well…
Yeah. If you’re keeping a checklist of my faults, I’m afraid you can put “controlling” down there right next to “manipulative.” It’s definitely on the list.
We (or at least I) tend to think of someone who is controlling as someone who is in charge. They can’t let someone else make the decisions and be in control of a situation. They have to be in charge.
That’s not my chosen method of control.
I’m a little sneakier than that. It doesn’t bother me in the least if someone else is making the decisions and being in charge of a situation. As long as I’m in control of myself. As long as I appear to have it all together.
I don’t often grasp for control in order to be in control of a situation. Instead, I grasp for control so others will think I’m in control of the situation.
I know that didn’t make any sense. Sorry.
Let me see how I can explain this…
It’s not the control that’s important to me. It’s the facade.
I want others to think I’m in control, whether I am or not. I want them to think that I’ve got everything handled, I’m doing great, I’m calm, cool, and collected, even when my life is falling apart.
I will refuse to admit it when I’m not doing well or I need help. Because that would be admitting that I’m not in control.
This facade of being in control has gotten me into trouble in the past.
One afternoon a few months ago, I was out hiking with a friend.
I wasn’t feeling really great that day – I had been very busy, doing a lot of manual labor during the morning, and hadn’t taken the time to sit down and eat a decent meal. So I was just feeling tired, sluggish and “off.”
But admit this, and opt out of hiking?? Never! That would mean I’m not in control!
So we get to the hill we’re planning to hike up, and my friend decides that instead of taking the trail which winds around and slowly up the hill, it would be a quicker, more direct route to go straight up the side of the mountain.
Say: “I’m feeling pretty tired, can we please take the easier trail today?” Never! That would mean I’m not in control!
I start panting and puffing my way up the side of the mountain behind my friend.
As it gets steeper and steeper, my pace gets slower and slower. A quarter of the way up and I am really not feeling good.
Stop, say: “I’m sorry, I really don’t feel good. I don’t think I’m up to doing this today.” Never! That would mean I’m not in control!
I continue dragging myself along. I break out in a cold sweat, and start to feel lightheaded. But I keep pushing myself, gasping and staggering my way upward. About halfway up the hill, I’m drooping so low that I am practically crawling, and finally I’m forced to stop for a breather.
I try to laugh it off, as my friend (still chipper and full of energy) stands patiently waiting for me to catch my breath.
But halfway through my lighthearted “Whew! Boy I’m out of shape!” sentence, all the blood drains from my head, the world starts to spin, and I know exactly what’s about to happen.
“I think I’m gonna pass out…” I mumble, and the next thing I remember is waking up flat on my back (it was a very pretty view, the sky up through the trees…), with my very startled and frightened friend standing over me yelling my name.
And that’s not the only time my determination to suck it up and stay in control has ended up getting me into more trouble than I’ve bargained for.
This facade has cost me massive amounts of grief and aggravation. It’s been the reason behind more tears than I’d really like to think about right now. Sometimes it even effects how I dress and style my hair (if I leave those sunglasses on, or my hair loose and in my face, then people won’t notice I’ve been – or I am – crying, and they’ll think I’m in control! My facade will remain unbroken!).
It’s given me blisters and sunburns. Sleepless nights and some (pretty cool, actually,) nicknames (c’mon: “Bullheaded Midget” – ya gotta admit, that’s just got a ring to it…). It’s encouraged my (already not very safe) driving habits.
It’s why I almost never (before I started this blog, at least) talk about my health issues. I’m afraid that if people know about my struggles, they’ll see past my facade and realize I’m not in control. I don’t have my life anywhere near “put together.”
And out from behind that facade just seems like such a dangerous place to be! It’s such a scary place to be!
I don’t know how people will react if they know that I’m just hiding behind a facade. If they find out that I’m not all I seem to be, that I’m not doing great, my life isn’t on track, and I don’t have everything handled, what might they do to me? What might they do with that information??
Because having that knowledge about me gives them power.
Power to destroy me.
Or power to help me.
My first instinct is to keep my facade up, stay in control! Because they could destroy me if they knew who I really am!
But when I do that, I miss out on the other side: they could help me if they knew who I really am!
It’s risky for me to let down my facade.
But if I refuse to take that risk, if I will not chance being hurt, then I inevitably lose out on the benefits of dropping that facade.
I miss out on friendships and fellowship I could have if I would let others see who I really am. I lose the opportunity to accept others love and help in my life. And I cheat them of the opportunity to help me, and the chance to learn and grow themselves, by hearing about my struggles.
Aren’t those benefits worth taking some risk for? Isn’t it worth risking being hurt in order to live and love that fully??
I already know this is going to be a slow, painful, frightening process, but I do believe it’s time for me to creep out from behind my facade…
(aka “The Bullheaded Midget.” Because even though I’m working on letting go of my facade of control, I ain’t letting go of that nickname – it’s just way too cool to give up).