There was a point during the birth of my first child when I realised I no longer had any say in the matter and that baby was coming whether I liked it or not. Looking back twenty one years later I laugh. What did I think I was going to do? Shove it back in? Say, “No sorry, not today”? What?
Sensing a loss of control in any situation (like childbirth) can be terrifying. But there are plenty more examples – what about losing control of your car while driving, your bladder while laughing or sneezing, your money because you have been scammed or simply other body functions as you grow older? All are possible. This morning I read a cartoon which made me crack up laughing. With apologies to the author for pinching his lines it said “I farted on the bus and four people turned around. It felt like I was on The Voice.” Very, very funny and possibly a situation anyone can find themselves in when one slips out!
The topic of “control” has been upmost in my mind because lately I have been having issues with it in my life. I have the body that doesn’t do as it’s told. I have a career that through no fault of my own is going down the drain and I have emotions, normally well under control, which feel continuously fragile. It is not unusual for me to feel happy one minute and be sobbing the next.
One thing I am trying to get my head around is the following: “You can’t control everything, but you can control how you react to situations.”
Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am 49 and of European descent. I am loud and I am bossy (and I’ve just decided to use a pseudonym because should my husband read this, he would do cartwheels with glee at my admission). But it’s true – I like to be in charge and I clash with people who are similar. There are times when being like this is great, but there are other times when it comes as a rude shock, which you can’t boss or control everything or everyone.
I have a body with a rare genetic disorder. This disorder causes cells to grow out of control and grow tumours. They grow where they like – on my scalp, on my thyroid, in my breast, on my knee. They don’t ask permission. They just appear wherever they want. I have no control. Sometimes they make a cancer.
I have a body that has passed this condition onto my child. She in turn has cells in her brain growing out of control. I can’t stop it. She can’t stop it. The doctors have tried but they also have no control. The cells have their own mechanisms and just do what they please.
I have a job and a position which I have worked many years to achieve. With not one but two people in this family needing ongoing medical care, keeping my job is getting harder. I have no control on this. There are rules. People have been empathetic long enough. I most likely will have to resign.
I have two children who are now over 18. After years of being “Mama fix it,” I now find myself occasionally on the outer. There are times when I fidget in waiting rooms while they go in to see the doctor on their own. It’s hard. One minute you are the centre of their universe and then you have to relinquish control and let them grow up.
There are many other examples but I won’t bore you by rambling on.
Let’s go back to what I said before – “You can’t control everything but you can control how you react to situations.”
When your body does what it likes, it’s easy to despair, give up and bury your head in the sand. Lord knows the times I’ve planned to run away and hide. Point is what would that achieve? Apart from also giving the wrong message to my daughter it would also be the end of my husband and other child. It would give them reason to give up. And I don’t want that. So, I choose to fight. I choose to control the way I react to situations by smiling, gritting my teeth and fighting. I read and become informed. I cry (that’s normal) but I don’t let it consume me because I won’t be able to fight.
I rid myself of people who are toxic. They drag me down and I can’t fight.
I sleep when I feel lack of control and I awake ready for the fight.
I grieve for the possible loss of a career but I choose to look at it differently. It is now just one of the things I will do in my life, not the reason to get up in the morning.
I welcome each day as a new start, not as a new fight…but I fight if I have to.
Control what you can when you can, but learning to control how you react to situations is a healthier way to live.