I recently attended a public meeting, and a beautiful woman in her seventies stood, greeting people as they entered the building. She looked really together, not one hair out of place, coordinated clothes, and shiny shoes, perfectly applied lipstick. The woman stopped me as I passed through, and started grilling me. Did I know what the meeting was for? Was I new to the protocol, familiar with the issues? I was smiling, answered yes, I was familiar with protocol. She started oppressing me, took my arm, as if to stop me. I realized she wanted to boss me around, especially when she pointed directly to a seat. “Sit there.” That gave me pause. The meeting was open seating.
I figured out the woman wanted to CONTROL the meeting, and wasn’t even running it. My encounter with her lasted less than one minute, but it felt ugly. She wanted me to think she was boss, like an usher, better informed, not at her level. The meeting had no other ushers. She was manipulating, camoulflage. It seemed she was not respecting me, but was thinking about herself, feeling gratification for telling people what to do and thinking she was helping when she wasn’t. I slipped past her grasp, relieved to never have to speak to her again. I sat where I wanted to sit, without her permission, and watched the woman continue questioning other people, bossing them around. Several other people reacted like me, were put off. She had a voluntary opportunity to control, and she was manipulating like crazy. I learned a lesson.
My control problem started as a kid. I rearranged my bedroom every few weeks to deal with my crazy house. I cleaned every inch of my room at night. When I woke up in the morning, I felt fresh and in charge of my surroundings. It worked for a kid like me with no power over alcoholism in their home, and gave me a delusion that my life was mine to manage.
I even tried moving around my friend’s furniture, so she would find the same relief from helplessness. My friend could care less, and I was baffled by her lack of controlling desire. Under the guise of helping, I found relief from moving her stuff around, like I could help her increase her power. Research studies of children of alcoholics show many kids cope by rearranging their bedrooms, trying to avoid powerless emotions in their daily lives. I wasn’t the only one. It wasn’t respect, but my need to manipulate, just like the woman I’d recently encountered at the meeting.
Control was part of my teacher’s paycheck, and I enjoyed managing and caring about creating lessons to instruct kids. Teaching is a fabulous career for people like me, who love kids, learning and teaching life skills. It’s fine if a teacher cares about students first, but woe to the poor kid who gets a controlling teacher, who values her own power over everything else. Most of us have had a taste of that teacher before, and it can be downright sick and punishing.
People in my life have suffered from my manipulating tactics. I used to feel responsible for everything. I made people feel guilty because they wouldn’t let me control them. I felt fearful when I did control them. The problem was my expectation, conviction that I know what is best, all the time. I want what I want when I want it. There are multiple ways to do life, not just my way.
I pressured my own children to do what I thought was best for them. Constant controlling undermines confidence for kids to learn self –reliance and develop their intuition. I cheated my children out of many opportunities to make mistakes, experience consequences and gain self-respect. I saw their struggles as alarms for me to fix things. That’s control, and it’s not pretty. I do not have celestial powers to make things perfect for anybody. I admit I am a controller.
I want to face control as an illness, coming from fear. Fear of not feeling safe, or getting what I want.
My struggle with righteousness remains the most isolating of all of my emotions. When I insist on being right, I am frequently despised for being pushy. Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?
I made a decision to trust myself, let go of life’s outcome, which is scary. My old strategies never really worked, and I covered up my failings with trying to control other people. It takes a great deal of emotional energy to constantly ‘ fix ’ things. Most of the time, I only get a hollow victory.
I don’t want to be the boss of everything. What relief to mind my own business.