Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Anatomy of Control

When I first started going to Al-anon, I figured that I'd be learning to help the addict.  Then after a few meetings, I realized that I'd be working on how to achieve some semblance of peace while living with an addict.  Now, I realize that I am being taught how to really get to know myself and how to live and function, in a healthy fashion, with a recovering addict, and how to become a healthy family member.  I keep forgetting that addiction is a family disease.  That means that every member of my family (even me) has a disease.  I am told over and over again, how I have no control.  I am trying to learn how to accept the things that I can't change and change the things I can. 

What is control really?  Who really has it?  And, do we really want it? Over time our idea of how we define things is not in reality what they really are.   For example, I get really irritated with the terms liberal and conservative with regards to politics.  I consider myself both liberal and conservative.  I am liberal in the fact that I like to question and look at new ways of doing things.  I am conservative when it comes to the environment.  But, in the political world, I would be considered a liberal because I want to "conserve" our environment.  It seems so mixed up.  It is in part because we like to label things and then we stereotype people by suggesting that if they believe this...then they must believe that.  So, in the interest of being correct, I decided to research control. 

The Webster dictionary definition of control is to exercise a restraining or directing influence; to regulate or to have power over or to reduce the incidence or severity of especially innocuous levels.  The synonyms for control are bridle, constrain, inhibit.  A psychologist named Les Parrott wrote a book called Control Freaks.  He says that control freaks think that they have the ability to purposefully direct or change others.  He goes on to say that control freaks think that they are the only ones who know how something needs to be done and won't stop until they get their way.  Control freaks think that their interventions are beneficial and necessary and they have feelings of superiority.  They really believe that things will go wrong if they don't follow every detail.  In their minds control equals security. 

When I look at control as it is defined and analyzed, I don't really like the idea of putting myself in the category of being a controlling parent.  But, I did think that I could control my son.  I did think that I was superior to him.  I thought that I was the only one who could make him be what "I wanted him to be".  After all what I wanted had to be the best way....right?  We can disguise control as suggestions, advice, guilt or even concern. 

When did we first start trying to control or have power over another person?  Well, personally I blame Adam!  He was told not to eat fruit from that tree, but the idea that he could have knowledge sounded great.  He could handle that, right?  It couldn't possibly harm him.  Surely he knew better than God that he would want and could handle this information.  Well, look where that got us.  Yet, over and over again my inner Adam comes out and I think that I am superior to God and I think that only I can fix all the problems  and in the process achieve world peace. 

Hi, my name is......and I am the mom of an addict.  This is where I've taken myself with all of the wonderful control I've got.  Okay, I know that I didn't cause this but I also can't control this.  Al-anon teaches us the twelve steps and the twelve traditions. The traditions teach us about group (or our family) responsibilities.   In the second tradition we learn that there is but ONE authority, a loving God, as He may express himself in our group conscience.  He is the only one whose control has OUR best interest at heart.  You see control is fueled by anxiety.  It is our fear that drives us  to want to influence what we perceive to be a threat.  It is for our own SELF protection that we control.  Just for clarity, who benefits from control?  We do.  When we think that we are in control, who feels better?  We do. 

When I look at all of the evidence, I must pray daily for the ability to let go and let God.  I have to keep an eye on myself to be sure that what I do is turn my will and life (and control) over to the care of God as I understand Him.  I saw a quote today that I really liked.  "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."  As I am learning to trust God with my family and my life, I am suddenly starting to have the time to appreciate the rain and to see that it is safe for me to venture out into it and now, I am interested in learning to dance in it again. 

Today my prayer is one of thanksgiving for learning and accepting God's will for me and my family.  I am also thankful for the seed of trust that is starting to grow.  I pray for knowledge for my son.  I pray for days filled with hope, excitement and dance for him.  I pray for all souls affected by this disease and as always, for Henry.

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