There are things you realise, in sobriety, that you’d perhaps rather ignore. They are often, in my experience, related to why you drank and only surface when you’ve recovered from the initial shock of having to deal with the world sober.
For me, drinking was about letting go of my tight, tight grip on reality. My overthinking, over worrying, anxiety ridden body gripped onto life tightly, yet when I drank, that grip was released almost from the very first sip. I used to be able to feel my body soften, let out an inaudible, inward sigh, and say ‘thank you.’
Letting go a little through alcohol is perfectly normal, but when I shifted from ‘taking the edge off’ to seeking the absolute obliteration of control… that’s when I had to stop.
I pottered on through my first few years of sobriety dealing with various issues, but I’d never really thought about my inner control freak, until recently, when it’s slowly and painfully come to light that I want to be able to influence the outcome of EVERYTHING. If The Times newspaper advertised the role of ‘General Manager of the Universe’, I’d apply, without a doubt. I’d be great! I could make everything exactly as I wanted to, and my benevolence would reign supreme. I’d be kind, of course, and understanding of people’s needs and desires, but this control would mean I’d know exactly how things were going to turn out. And that they’d turn out the right way.
This terrifying need for control has slowly dawned on me over the past year. It came first, when i started managing my team at work. All of a sudden, I was responsible for the actions of others, without being able to control their behaviour. I could influence it, sure. But they have these terrifying things called *personalities* and *free will* and *independence.* Terrible.
I would lie away at night, feeling the burden of outcomes I could not predict, and the injustice that I’d be judged on others’ work, rather than just my own. I realised that up until this point, I’d only ever been responsible for my own actions.
Once I’d had this little glimpse of my inner dictator, I started, with horror, to see the signs in my personal life too. I can’t, alas, go into too many details of how this has played out without compromising my anonymity, but it’s been pretty painful. I’ve really, truly, shocked myself with my behaviour. Who is to say my way is the right way?! Me. Thats who runs this show in my head.
As I write, I’m starting to to recall a section in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that describes my tendencies completely:
“like an actor who tries to run the whole show; is forever trying to rearrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in [my] own way. If [my] arrangements would only stay put, if only people did as [I] wished, the show would be great. Everyone, including [myself], would be pleased. Life would be wonderful.’
Gulp. My writing above echoes these words almost exactly.
When I was setting my intention for 2017, I carefully chose the word ‘Surrender.” When I selected it, my reasoning was that I needed to learn to give in to my own destiny, to things being unpredictable and unscripted and not always going how I imagined they would. But in the past few weeks, I’ve realised that the significance of these words runs much deeper than this. I must surrender to what is. To who other people are. To relinquish my terrible notion that my way is the right way. Because I have a lot of empathy, and am really good at understanding others’ feelings and perspectives, I’d kept this trait to manipulate and control hidden. But now I’ve seen it. I’ve got to train my vision to it keenly.
Good news: the General Manager of the Universe position will remain vacant, at least for now 😉
Happy Tuesday x