Once upon a time, I was a person who felt the need to control as much as possible in my life. No one could tell me what to do. If they tried, inevitably I ended up doing the opposite. I wanted things the way I wanted them, and if I couldn’t have them that way, forget it. Luckily, I grew out of the worst of these tendencies just by reaching adulthood. Realizing that I couldn’t make my father love me the way I wanted him to love me was the first step in learning I couldn’t control other people. Having the same trouble with a friend in college cemented that knowledge for good. People will love me, people will not love me, and I can’t make someone who doesn’t love me change their mind. All I can do is appreciate the ones who do love me.
My need to control my environment and other aspects of my life has been a tougher obstacle to defeat. For example, don’t touch my stuff. I know where I left it, I know what condition it was in, I planned my next grocery shop based on how much of whatever it is was left, and if you messed with it you’re messing with ME. Okay, some of this particular bit of insanity might be born from high school bullying sessions where if I didn’t notice my stuff was moved, missing, or vandalized, I got teased even worse. That’s a vicious cycle right there, though, if you think about it. Stick a Kick Me sign on a kid’s back, tease them for not noticing, then when you find them checking their back two weeks later when there’s no sign, tease them for being paranoid. Which only makes the kid even more paranoid. Yes, when you mess with my stuff, it makes me very paranoid. Living with my husband has helped me to tame this particular monster, in most rooms of the house. My office, or the bedroom where I keep my clothes and such, however, are still off limits. Don’t touch my desk. Don’t touch my stuff. I now accept that sometimes the milk container will be empty or the butter container won’t be on the same shelf today as it was yesterday. Finding a wisk in graters/zesters/funnels/strainers drawer still kind of irks me, though.
The last area of control is my personal life, you could say. Every year, I made New Year’s resolutions. I made plans. I made goals. This was going to be the year I lost all the weight, learned a new language, read all of the Shakespeare plays I claimed to have read in college, got my house completely organized, paid off all the credit cards, and maybe even taught the cats to use the toilet so I wouldn’t have to scoop cat poop when my husband was away on business. After the first year or so, I stopped telling people what my resolutions were, because then it felt like an even worse failure when I didn’t achieve them. Then, I went the complete other direction and said, “No more resolutions!! If I get something done, good for me. If not, it’s not the end of the world. All resolutions do is make me feel bad about myself.” And then I felt bad about myself because I couldn’t even make one little resolution without being sure in the knowledge that I wouldn’t get it done. Apparently even I am not allowed to tell me what to do.
This was the point where I finally realized that I had lost control over myself. By this time, I had my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, and was trying to learn to deal with the loss of control over new parts of my life. I had found DailyStrength.org, I had good friends there who were dealing with similar issues and gave me fabulous support, and I was learning what one friend calls “So What Therapy.” There are dirty dishes in the sink and clean dishes in the dishwasher and I don’t have the energy to change that. So what. We can grab clean dishes from the dishwasher the same as from the cabinet. There’s dust on the TV and the toilet needs a scrub. So what. We’re not having company anytime soon, so nobody will see it. I wasn’t able to cook dinner after coming home from work because I was too tired. So what. That’s why pizza places deliver. I was taking SWT to a new level, though, by telling myself that I didn’t need resolutions because I would never keep them anyway. This is a control freak’s worst nightmare. Learning to accept that I couldn’t do all things all the time to the level of perfection that I had once demanded was one thing. This sounded more like giving up. Was I really admitting that I had no control over my own self?
I have since constrained myself to just one resolution each year. Everything else is just an idea. I have not managed to keep this resolution every year, but that doesn’t stop me from making it again this year. My new Year’s resolution for 2013 is to be healthier at the end of it than I am at the beginning of it. My definition of healthier is simple: At least one pound lighter and feeling just a little better than I did a year ago.
I failed miserably in 2012. I am many pounds heavier, and currently have a monster of a cold which means I am anything but the definition of healthy right now. (And yes, I’m truly dreading flying home on Wednesday with this cold. That will be the definition of “not cool” for me.) Besides the cold, I have not been exercising, I have not been watching what I eat, I have not been trying new and healthier recipes and foods. I am not healthier than I was last year. On the other hand, I have found a new supplement which is helping me with my fatigue (Co-Q10, in case you’re wondering), and I have a slightly better relationship with my Rheumatologist. I did not spend nearly as much time visiting my PCP in 2012 (mostly because I was visiting my Rheumatologist, but I’ll take what I can get here), and until this cold, I didn’t feel the need to postpone or back out of anything because of how I felt. That’s huge. 2012 was better than 2011 that way. In 2011, I stopped working because I just couldn’t do it all anymore, had a cardiac ablation to stop my heart palpitations, had my tubes tied, and saw countless doctors just to rule things out. In 2012, I was able to move forward a little. True, I didn’t move forward enough to lose 100 pounds and start running marathons, but I am better off than I was. So maybe I didn’t fail completely in 2012.
Here’s hoping that by the end of 2013 I am healthier than I am today. Okay, if I look at today specifically, that won’t be much of a leap (she says as she blows her nose and tries to make her ears pop). But I’ll do what I can, when I can, as best I can, and that will be enough. Happy New Year, everyone!