Control Freak

I have control issues. This is one of a long, long list of my faults.

I’m a planner, and I like to have complete control over everything around me. I have struggled a lot over the past three years or so because things in my life haven’t gone how I expected or wanted them to. My divorce, of course, and taking a year off from school after I went into preterm labor while pregnant with Caroline. And I love my daughter more than life itself, but getting pregnant against your will while you are actively practicing birth control is (in my opinion) one of the biggest losses of control of all.

When I found out I was pregnant, one of the things that upset me the most was that I felt that I was stuck in my marriage now that we were going to have a child. I was already at the point when I knew I shouldn’t have married him in the first place and that it wouldn’t last forever.

I stayed in that place, numb, and sort of treading water, until I finally made the decision to file for divorce at the end of last summer. And it was such a relief, mostly because… I was taking back control over my life. Throughout our marriage, Tyler went wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted, regardless of my protests, and eventually I just watched him leave us without speaking up because I knew I had no say in any of it. Eventually I shook myself awake and said, No. This isn’t what I want from my life. And it was such a thrill to have my control back.

He had had all the power during our marriage, and so when I took control of our divorce, I was sort of drunk on my power. I filed the papers. I kept our apartment. I refused him over and over when he asked if we could work it out, if he could have more chances. I did all the research and set up the court dates and figured everything out, and got the whole thing taken care of as efficiently as possible. Because that’s just what I do, whether I’m scheduling patients, planning a wedding, getting ready for a baby, planning a vacation, or getting through a divorce.

Now that the dust has settled, I feel somewhat at a loss. I took control of my life again… but where am I? I’m 26, divorced, a single mother. And while I certainly prefer that to the situation I was in, it isn’t how I wanted my life to go and it’s not how I wanted to create my family. I doubt that many little girls dream of being single mothers when they grow up.

And now another control issue comes up, a big one– this other woman in my daughter’s life. I did some Facebook stalking and let’s just say I’m not exactly thrilled at the person he’s chosen. I’m not thrilled he’s chosen to introduce anyone at all to her this soon after our divorce. But I have no control over any of that. I have to just breathe and let it go. And that’s really, really tough.

So what have I learned?…

You cannot base your happiness in life on things you can’t control. That’s a recipe for being miserable. You have to find a way to anchor yourself with things you can change if you need to. I was talking to my shrink about my control freakness and my rage over everything that happened with Tyler, and she told me not to fight the anger, but to just experience it for what it is, acknowledge it and the reasons for it, and let it pass through me. That sounds like some pretty hippie shit, I’m sure, but it made a lot of sense to me and I have found it to be very useful advice.

So that’s what I’m doing. Yes, it all makes me angry and frustrated and it feels unfair and I want to rage against it sometimes. But like the saying goes, I just hope for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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  1. by Jenifer

    On March 8, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    thank you for this. We may be in different places in our lives but we all need to remember the serenity prayer every once in a while.

  2. by Anonymous

    On March 9, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Hi Julia,I've been reading your blog for a while, but have never commented. I just wanted to say how beautiful I thought this post was. I think you are handling a tough situation very well, and if you can manage to let go of your anger, I think you will be happier for it. And, from the outside … where are you? You're 26, have almost finished dental school, kicked butt on the dental boards, lined up a residency for yourself, surrounded yourself with family and friends, and have a beautiful, happy 2 year old. Not too shabby, really. :-)

  3. by Caroline Cameron

    On March 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I just wanted to say I have really enjoyed reading your latest posts. Not only do you have everything the above commenter mentioned going for you, your writing is great to read. I'm not sure this is much consolation for what you are going through, but you continually express yourself in an eloquent, punchy and often hilarious manner. Please keep going!

  4. by Anonymous

    On March 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    You are human! You have the right to be mad, pissed, offended, over-think the situation that your now ex-husband is dating someone else, so soon after a divorce and since I'm a gal too – before you have found someone.My best advice (sorry I know weird coming from a person you don't know): Don't let him see you sweat! Don't make any rash decisions. Talk to the your therapist, people who care about you, BLOG IT! and of course feel free to scream in your pillow.But when he's around approach this situation with Zen-like calm.

  5. by Erika

    On March 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I have the same control issues and it was great to see this post. I tell myself a lot that I just need to try to only control what I need to, but so far they're just words. I'm hoping soon I can get to the a point in my life where some of your mantras will come in handy.

  6. by Kittybits

    On April 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    It's an odd sort of thing to say, but had my life gone one way, you would have been my role model. As it is now, you are not only a great role model for me anyway, but a strong human being and I'm glad that you chose to share this journey with us. Kudos to you.