Recovering Control Addict

Based on the response I got to my last post about being a control freak, it feels good to know I’m not alone.

Although my take on addiction is probably different than most, the image I have conjured up in my mind as I wake up to my controlling habit and catch myself in the act of saying something that can be labeled controlling is one of a recovering control addict. I envision a comic of a woman looking tired, drawn, overworked and heavy-laden with a big zipper over her mouth because she is trying not to be controlling. The heading reads, “You too can have intimacy.”

What does it take to break a controlling habit? Hard work? Self control? Will power? I actually haven’t found any of that to work. So what is it that is allowing me to bite my lip, at times, and not say, “You didn’t really just do that, did you? Are you sure you want to go to sleep on the couch? Wouldn’t it be better if we changed insurance companies? Maybe you want to eat that herring instead.”

An insight.

I had an insight that intimacy in my marriage is more important than being right, getting my way, showing him up, proving him wrong or protecting myself.

I had an insight that every time I try to control, I am destroying our relationship. Maybe subtly, maybe slowly, maybe politely, but destroying it nonetheless.

I had an insight that my desire to control is coming from a belief that I have to take care of myself because I don’t trust that you will take care of me. I have to do it all, be responsible, be competent, make it all happen perfectly because if I don’t you may not love me. I have to protect myself because being vulnerable isn’t safe and you may hurt me.

Actually I get hurt all the time, but I never knew it was hurt because I went straight to defending myself with righteous anger.  

What I didn’t realize is that I have to be willing to give up my defenses (the illusion of solid ground providing safety and protection) and jump into the discomfort of the unknown (being vulnerable) in order to get to the other side to find intimacy, connection and closeness. That is a path of giving up control.

The thing that has kept me from jumping is the belief that it’s not safe or the fear of being vulnerable. All control is based in fear. All fear is made of Thought.

I have been innocently creating a protective island in my mind and I had no idea. It’s amazing how we may have deep rooted beliefs about ourselves that we decided as a child for whatever reasons (probably valid ones at the time) and we bring them with us throughout our life to shield us, but in truth, rather than protecting us, they imprison us.   

So instead of trusting, loving and being vulnerable, I’ve been defensive, protective and guarded. Is it any wonder there was a lack of intimacy? This is true for my relationship with my husband, as well as my relationship with Hashem. As I’ve been following this path of giving up control, I have noticed a strengthening and closeness in both of these relationships in my life.

So now when the insight shows up that I want intimacy more than protection, it doesn’t feel like a battle to stop myself from saying controlling things. However, when intimacy is only a distant good idea, things seem to fall out of my mouth or feel awfully painful to keep in.

The good news is there is always another opportunity.

One thought on “Recovering Control Addict”

  1. malka Arons says:

    So true and so beautifully said!

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