Thursday, November 11, 2010

Controlling my way to the beach

I don't think of myself as a control freak or somebody who always needs to have her own way. But over the past few days, I've come up against some discomfort that sure looks like a control issue.

I'm headed off to the beach with a group of other women writers. I'm pretty used to organizing events like this but I'm not organizing this one. I'd love to be the kind of flexible person who says, yippee, it's not mine to take care of. Instead, I've been fretting about getting the details of who's cooking when and when we can check in, and I didn't get that information until yesterday. This made me anxious (until I got it).

Second, I've been to this house before and stayed in a room that really suited me. It was one of the nicer rooms of the 6 bedrooms and hadn't been chosen by anyone when I got there. Well, I want that room again. I want it because it's nice but even more I want it because it's familar. Mostly I want it because then I will know where I'll be and what it will look.

I think that's at the crux of all of this. My growing-up home was emotionally unpredictable. I couldn't control any of that, but I could control where I was and what I was doing and when I could plan things out in detail, I felt like I had some power over what happened. I think it's those old anxieties that get triggered in these situations. It's the not knowing, that's the issue. And it's a form of vulnerability I'm reluctant to share with anyone.

My spiritual director suggested I practice going with the flow over the next week. It astounded me how much resistance came up at the mere suggestion of that. Lots to consider here.


sorella said...

Dear Jill,

Oh my, how I empathize with the issues you raise here. I had such a strong reaction when I read the first few paragraphs. "But why shouldn't she want these things?" I thought to myself. "She's just taking care of herself!" I guess sometimes it is a fine line between meeting one's needs and having control issues. I know I've been grappling with this issue as well, of trying to not have melt downs or being anxious when important things don't go as I expect them to (and I have been able to see that not everything is equally important). On the other hand, I think and feel that it's important to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. It's a big deal that you learned these habits in an unstable environment when you were a defenseless child. As my therapist would say, that's a big deal. I think it is a huge positive thing that you could articulate and share these feelings with us! So right there, you are breaking the family code, don't you think?

So, yes, by all means, practice going with the flow in a safe environment such as this writing retreat by the ocean; and also, be super-kind to yourself if you do find internal resistance or unease with that new practice!

huge hugs and love

LC said...

Best wishes on "flowing" through the weekend. Rerouting the mental wiring is so difficult, and it sounds like you are making a good start.