Confessions of Recovering Control Freak

Want to know how to make me fall apart?

Give me a bunch of things I can’t do all by myself, that have to be done in a set amount of time, thereby forcing me to ask other people for help, and rely on them and work around their schedules, to get those things done. Add in a husband who is out of town while all this is going on, so the list of things I have to ask other people to do for me doubles because he’s not there to do them. Add to that 4 children who keep making messes, and unpacking things that are already packed, and basically going along behind me undoing everything I get done, while at the same time asking me if I can take them to do fun things, and read this book to them, and come and play, and I will fall apart eventually. Throw in pregnant hormones and a pesky cough that won’t go away and strains my bladder to the breaking point, just for added bonus kicks. Oh, and throw some brand new, urgent, must do before I go, project at me as well, on an almost daily basis, right when I was starting to feel like I might be on top of things. Might as well.

Today I fell apart because while I was in the shower the girls played with water outside and BamBam, who was already dressed, in his last pair of clean pants of course, decided to join in, got his pants soaking wet and stripped down to nothing.

Just one more thing that was undone, after it was done, when we had to get out the door. I spent the next half hour sobbing quietly as we tried to find Little’s other shoe, again, and something else for BamBam to wear and talk to Aaron when he called in the middle of it, from the other side of the continent. It’s a good thing I didn’t notice until we got home hours later the way BamBam scribbled with marker all over the stone right beside the front door. Thank God for small mercies.

So not what I wanted added to my plate today.

I learned early on in life never to attempt anything that I couldn’t finish myself. I learned that other people aren’t reliable, don’t care as much about things as I do, and that if I have to trust them to get something done it probably won’t get done. Every time someone tells me they will do something, and then doesn’t do it, it reinforces this basic assumption that I’m all alone in life and that if I want anything done, I have to do it myself.

So perhaps the worse thing, the most powerless feeling ever, is to have to ask someone else to help me to do something that I really need to do, because I can’t do it myself. I hate it. Guess what I’ve been doing, daily, for weeks now?

And then there are the things I need my kids to do, just so we still function together. When they don’t do them, when I have to remind them 5, 10, 15 times to do one simple thing… Let’s just say my ability to be patient is about as trustworthy as my bladder these days. It could betray me at any moment.

I’m a control freak in recovery. We should have a support group. “My name is Carrien and I have trust issues.”

Starting The Charis Project was another step out of only trusting myself all the time. It doesn’t work unless others join in. That’s been a journey, and I’ve gotten comfortable asking other people to help me help orphans. The fact that other people do actually help is still sometimes astonishing. I’m still surprised by it.

But asking other people to make multiple trips in a truck loaded with my stuff, in their spare time off from school and all their other daily responsibilities, hoping and praying that people show up when I ask them for help instead of leaving me hanging with boxes too heavy for me to lift, and things I can’t move and chaos just waiting at the door? Those things make me panic.

Even though there they were in the rain yesterday, hauling furniture to storage.

The thing is, we have amazing friends, and family. So many people who have already shown up to help, and who have volunteered to show up to help this week. They have been there for me, time and time again. But the lessons learned in childhood are not easily unlearned. It takes a whole lot more to push me over the edge than it used to, but I every so often discover it’s still there. I worry, that I’m asking too much, that it won’t get done, even though I really have no reason to doubt them.

No logical reason anyway. Just this rising panic that leaks out of my voice when I find all the wood toys I carefully gathered together and put in a box scattered all over the floor once again.

What if I can’t do it?

What if it doesn’t get done?

What if I screw this whole thing up when I inevitably drop the ball on something, anything? I will drop the ball, I know that, but what if it breaks this time and all is lost?

Today I was still wiping away tears as we drove away from the house, and feared they would spill over again as soon as I talked to anyone.

The girls take a ballet class at a Christian homeschool co-op we’re part of. I’m trying to get them there every week before we go so they have time with their friends, even thought it’s hard to find the time.

The very first mom I saw said, “We were praying for you this morning in Coffee Connect.” (The classes go all day and there is a group of moms that meet in the morning to talk and pray and stuff during the very first class. I’ve been exactly once, before I realized we didn’t have a class that started before 1pm.)

That surprised me. I’m still surprised you see when others care.

Those ladies today got me through. I needed the love, and the commiseration, and the knowledge that people knew I was struggling and were praying me through it. It was lovely to just talk to friends who know exactly how full my plate is, and understand what that actually means, and how many full time jobs I’m juggling at once, just to remember that I’m not crazy, or failing, when I’m overwhelmed by it all. I’m just human.

When we got home and I saw the pen marks next to the front door, I was mostly able to keep the panicky angry tone out of my voice as I asked when that had happened and who did it. Mostly.

I’m a few inches away from the edge again, instead of teetering right over the chasm, and I’ve remembered that even when it feels like it, I’m not really alone. There are people who have my back.

Part 2 tomorrow, on dealing with fear.

all content © Carrien Blue

One thought on “Confessions of Recovering Control Freak

  1. I think I'm less of a control-freak because I've worked with so many reliable people for so long now. But in your place, no matter how much love and support I was getting from my friends, I have to say I am still enough of one that I would be going absolutely mad with worry in your place. I admire you for every day you get through, and admire more your courage to tell us about your fears and experiences. Thank you Carrien!!

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