Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We're Controlling? Yeah, right.

I am learning that the more I try to control, that I am really being controlled.

This is the most powerful sentence I will write today. So I could stop right (write) there. But of course, I am codependent and I am verbose. A double whammy. What a nightmare.

Okay. What do I mean about being controlled? Well, let's face facts. Who has been called a "control freak" . . . ? Raise your right hand. Higher. A little higher. The curvature of the earth is preventing me from seeing all those hands.

Okay. That's established. 101% of us have been labeled this by our friends - the qualifiers. But if you dig deeper - past what you are doing to control, and look into how you started to try to control the situation, I'll bet you a dollar (Canadian or US, Euros too), that you can pinpoint it to an event or a statement that caused you to react.

To react.

Those are the two (2) key words. Count 'em if you like. Two.

To react. Yikes. Look and research. Go back over past "encounters."

Next time, try to replace your response with, "Is that so?" Or, "Hmmm." Or "I hear you." And stop. Don't react. Don't empathize (this is a gift and a curse, as I am a BIGGGG empathizer). Don't sympathize. The difference is; "I feel your pain" versus "I am sorry you have pain."

Just let it sit there - that statement or mood or their reaction or behavior. Watch it float around the room you are in, like a separate inanimate object. Try this. It may help you to picture it as an object that you know and that cannot hurt you, like an orange or apple. See it come out their mouths. When they (our button pusher friends), try to push our buttons and cause us to react (which feeds their pain and gets our pain up and running), watch the words, literally come out of their mouths.

I know this may sound a little weird. But it helps us to NOT identify with the harsh criticism or the provocation. It helps to make the words or behavior something a little odd in our minds, like an orange or an apple. See the orange come out of their mouths. "Plop." Right out of their mouths, onto the floor or table. "Plop."

Observe it, like a disinterested third-party. This will help you . . .

Disassociate.

Remember, they are trying to push your buttons. If you can stop yourself from reacting, you are no longer being controlled. And the control we usually reply with, no longer needs to be . . . , well, replied with. This is a liberating feeling. And if you're into a little revenge, it pisses them off! :-)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am surrounded with alcoholics in my family and had instinctually learned some survival skills by not reacting and dissociating myself from them when I needed to. Since starting Al-Anon and reading this blog, I've learned more and have been practicing it the best I can. That is, with all of them except my grown son.

His alcoholism was kept from me until 14 months ago so I haven't had years of practice in detaching from him as I've had with the others. He's a highly educated binge drinker who is about to lose the rest of his life. He says he wants to quit drinking when he goes through withdrawal, then seems to promptly forget to go to AA when he feels better. He's at a week on and a week off.

And I'm having a LOT of trouble. I wrote in my journal this morning about not reacting anymore and trying to practice dissociation when the pain and anguish become unmanageable. Then I read your blog. It's a gift when this happens, and it happens frequently. I no longer go help him go through withdrawal and I don't give him money and try not to enable him in any way. God forgive me, but I find myself wishing it would get really worse so he would finally admit that he is defeated by alcohol and be willing to do everything he can to get sober and better. Unfortunately, I've read how unsuccessful highly educated people are at getting and staying sober. The statistics are very bad for him. It's near impossible to watch your only child slowly commit suicide and try to get some serenity in your life at the same time. I can't find much help with this in the literature.

I find my love so deep that it's getting in the way of rational thought. I need help with this. Any suggestions anyone? And thanks for being there for me this morning. The last couple of hours have been tough.

Joe said...

Your gift to your son may be the fact that your going to Al-Anon and reading the literature could provide changes in you that he sees and attempts to emulate. Your gift to you is for you to remain you. As a by-product, your son knows who YOU are. If you start changing by attempting to adapt (and we all do) by trying to manipulate (in a positive way) and control (in a loving, thoughtful way), you impact his attempt of recovery.

As I write this, I cannot imagine a child (my child) having this addiction and not helping.

But it may be that our help actually hurts and elongates the process for our loved ones to recover.

Because one detaches and because one does not engage, does not mean one does not love someone.

Joe
PS - I have found multiple Al-Anon meetings to help. I now attend 5 to 10 a week, for peace

Syd said...

I've learned through Al-Anon that controlling is useless. And that all I can do is detach with love. It is hard sometimes. But I inventory it and work at it every day. I don't have any children so I know that the pain of seeing a child be addicted must be great. However, I've heard many parents say that all they can do is detach and not enable. They are not their child's Higher Power. When they stopped doing for the child, the child began to do for him/herself.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

I am beginning to understand more fully the meaning of recovery.

I think this process is never ending, I see it as a life long journey.

I have to admit, that I always believed that "controlling" was a positon of "power". In my work, and reading what Al-Anon brings to my table, is that it is exactly the opposite!!

I find myself this morning reading Joe's post multiple times... I am more aware of the power in dis-engagement, and detactment. It is very difficult for me at times, it is not what I want to do, but I am doing it. It is becoming more familiar to me each day.

It is so true that not engaging, or detatching means we don't love.

It just might me we love them more than they know, and one day might have a clearer understanding of that.

Peace this Tuesday.

KevinB

Anonymous said...

I've realized by mid-life that I've led much of my life disillusioned. These 4 Truths are helping my attitude and growing my perspective.

Life is Hard...God is Good.
Life is unfair...God is Just.
Life is unpredictable...God is sovereign.
Life is short...God is eternal.

Anonymous said...

I'm struggling with control. I took the ultimate form of control by filing for a protection order from my qualifier. At the time I told myself it was to control my life, to restore order, to stop the abuse, to refuse to let my children continue to live in a crazy environment. But it has been taken as another attempt to control my husband, and there is truth in that too. It's hard not to second guess, to wonder if I should have gotten better as listening without reacting. On the other hand, multiple DUIs, crazy $ binges, etc. have a way of pushing us forward to take action. So my question is ultimately the one of the serenity prayer--how do we know (for sure) when to try for the courage to make changes. When is that control?

Anonymous said...

I find I try to control when things feel "out of control" and doing something reduces the anxiety I feel over the out of control situation. It feels like a position of power, but it is only a temporary resolution to a problem (and I guess it helps the problems around me keep on keeping on).

However, disassociating is also a problem when taken to an extreme - and I am good at taking things to extremes. I think I have practiced the detaching and disassociating thing so much that I have a hard time feeling connected or concerned about ANYTHING. I would say that I just feel numb most of the time now. I do find day to day happiness in small things, but there is something missing - I have no passion for anything. As long as I am distracted and busy with work, tv, friends and family (I guess these aren't really small things - except tv) - I am content.

For anonymous who would really like to see his son get worse so he would see the defeat and seek help - I see that as quite a statement of love. You feel deeply enough to want what would be good for him ultimately.

Those 4 truths are something I have not meditated on lately and maybe thats why I am feeling somewhat numb and joyless (disillusioned is a good word). Thanks for reminding me!

As for the courage to change - it's not controlling to finally find the courage to make a change that is healthy, healing and an act of love and protection. At least that's how I see it.

God bless.

TraceyBaby said...

Excellent advice. Doesn't sound weird at all. I'll take it!

nona said...

This was a great post. I'm so glad I'm not the only one being "controlled" by being called controlling. I got my justice when our therapist explained to my husband that "someone had to be in control of a family of five."

I've come a long way since then and have used the tools of this program to learn detachment with love, healthy boundaries, acceptance and letting someone else have the dignity to make their own choices.

I learned from CAL, In all Our Affairs, Making Crises Work for You, to imagine my qualifier looking out the window of a mental hospital when he's being verbally abusive. This thought almost always produces a sigh of relief and gratitude that I do not suffer from this disease myself.

nona said...

This was a great post. I'm so glad I'm not the only one being "controlled" by being called controlling. I got my justice when our therapist explained to my husband that "someone had to be in control of a family of five."

I've come a long way since then and have used the tools of this program to learn detachment with love, healthy boundaries, acceptance and letting someone else have the dignity to make their own choices.

I learned from CAL, In all Our Affairs, Making Crises Work for You, to imagine my qualifier looking out the window of a mental hospital when he's being verbally abusive. This thought almost always produces a sigh of relief and gratitude that I do not suffer from this disease myself.