Releasing My Inner Control Freak

I used to be excellent at being in control. Well at the least the kind of control that you think you have, the kind that makes you wake up at 3am with thoughts of what tasks need to be done, what relationships need to tended to, and what the future might look like, should look like, or probably will look like. It wasn’t as if I woke up due to some unknown force and these thoughts slowly crept into my awareness. No – they were fully constructed entities catapulting through my mind before my eyes even had a chance to open. Now that’s some control craziness.

The truth was, I was never in control. I didn’t have control over the people in my life I thought were my mainstays. I didn’t have control over whether things remained firmly in tact or fell apart at the seams. And that’s why change knocked me flat on my ass.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take hurricane force winds to knock a control freak over, it only takes a small breeze. Why? Because they have so much invested in the outcome that anything different from what they expect can be a massive blow – as I’m slowly learning to recognize.

Controlling anything takes a ridiculous amount of energy for little reward. In fact, the reward is even a sham because it wasn’t the controller that made the situation what it was- it was likely what would have happened anyways, minus all the meddling. It’s just the ego’s way of puffing out its chest and saying, “Yeah, I did that. No big deal.”

Nice try ego.

In reality, all the moments in my life that I would call my “worst” have one thing in common: they all turned out ok. No matter the anxiety or the number of ugly cries I had, it’s always, in some way or another been ok. Maybe not great, but not life-shattering either.

What do I have to show for all the energy I put into wondering how things could possibly fall into place? Nothing. Not. A. Thing.

So I’m giving up the reigns and taking a nap. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an active participant in my life (you really think my type A personality would let me give up full control??), just in a more laid-back, go with the flow kind of way. It’s like replacing a New Yorker with a Boulderite. Yeah, I’m making that much of a change.

It’s so much easier to let everything just be and figure out the logistics later. And usually the Universe is much better at steering than I am, so things can only go up from here. 

Yes, I Eat My Feelings

Lately I’ve been stuffing my feelings down with copious amounts of artery clogging fast food style burgers and early morning milk shakes. I follow this by an alcoholic beverage or two and a desert sweet enough to wash it all down. Needless to say, my lethargic body hates me. With a passion.

Despite my naturally small (and by small I mean short) size, and a metabolism that leaves me starving come 5am, I have always had an up and down relationship with food. It’s not all that strange given the fact that I’m in my early 20’s living in one of the most superficial countries in the world. But I’m smart enough to know that more often than not I treat my body as if it were my worst enemy- one I’m trying to punish with a slow and painful death. Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but you catch my drift.

It took me twenty years to finally warm up to the idea of exercising because I tend to avoid all things that I don’t think I’ll be good at. I was even able to skirt those pesky P.E. requirements in high school by offering to help with the special needs kids. Seriously. Then a few years later and fourteen pounds heavier, I decided that my small stature would inevitably leave me looking like an oompa loompa if I didn’t tweak my habits.

Yoga proved to be my saving grace in the effort to stay zen while kicking my ass in to shape. But despite my dedication for those few months and my success in convincing my body that anything was possible, I stopped. Cold turkey. I could say that I got too busy (lie) or that it became too expensive (truth with a little lie mixed in), but the truth is, like many things, I just stopped caring.

After nursing my post-Sonic stomach ache this morning and brooding over how large I felt, I had a fleeting moment where I realized how counter productive my actions were in creating a healthy, happy existence. It’s not about the numbers, it’s about being in tune with what my body is telling me. And unfortunately, I put a muzzle on it a while back.

My life has changed drastically in the past few weeks, and my celebratory eating (yes, my preferred bonding experience is over hot dogs and chocolate chip cookies), has turned into avoidance eating. I have felt my career begin to lose momentum before fully taking off, and filling in the voids of ending an old routine and beginning a new one has made food look oh so appealing.

I’m excellent at setting intentions. I’ll say, quite matter of factly: “Come Monday I won’t be eating donuts the size of my face or topping a heaping plate of nachos off with a margarita. Nope, I’ll be munching on tofu and snacking on almonds.” In reality, come Monday I’ll be setting a new intention for a later date while ordering some more french fries.

All things in moderation, I know. It’s not about depriving myself of the foods I actually enjoy eating, it’s just depending on food more for sustenance than entertainment. Or comfort. And that is far easier said then done.

The Things I’ll Do For a Buck

I had a job interview yesterday.  The morning began with me ransacking my closet for that perfect “hire me on the spot” outfit and ended with my mother telling me that leggings and a sweater that barely covered my ass was probably not appropriate.  To this I told her that I wouldn’t want to work for a company that didn’t allow me to wear said outfit and that I would hold out for another job if they were going to be so strict about my fashion sense.  Although I did change the outfit (that damn perfectionist in me isn’t so good with making a statement), I silently vowed to myself that I would not let the promise of a steady paycheck compromise my idea of what is or is not good for me.

In leaving the company’s fantastically hip office yesterday after a speedy interview (not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing…) I began to think about all of the jobs that I had pushed for in the past and all of the interviews that I would undoubtedly sweat through in the future. 

After high school and a dramatic decision to not join the ranks of alcohol induced hipsters at the University of Colorado Boulder, I found a job as a para-educator for special needs kids at an elementary school.  Sitting at the principal’s desk as he perused my resume that seemed to just shout “INEXPERIENCED!!” felt odd considering that a few months earlier I was merely a student myself.  I was as shocked as perhaps some of my future colleagues were when he called me a few days later to tell me that I had been hired.  Ecstatic and horrifically nervous at the same time, I attempted to help some of the best kids I had ever met navigate their way through a world that just wasn’t conducive to their abilities.  I loved it- and broke down when I left.

When I finally bucked up and went along with society’s plan of getting a college education BEFORE entering the “serious” workforce I thought that I might try my hand at being a restaurant hostess on the side.  I guess I had forgotten that the one other time I had attempted this seemingly easy feat I had walked out sobbing the first day.  This time I was hired at Chili’s- where I thought I might make some bosom buddies and have a little fun (think Waiting without all the perversion).  I promptly realized that I just don’t like waiting on people.  Period.  One day a woman came in in a wheel chair.  In my attempt to be logistically intelligent I attempted to seat her at a table where a regular chair could just be replaced with her wheelchair.  She then proceeded to yell at me (in front of other customers mind you) that I should have sat her at one of the raised booths.  I smiled broadly and tried with all of my might to bite my tongue.  I quit against the chiding of an acquaintance that got me the job in the first place.  “Don’t burn any bridges,” she said to me.  This, I had thought, was a bridge I would set on fire myself.

The next four years I spent as a nanny, caring for a wide variety of ages and figuring out all of the reasons why I wouldn’t want kids anytime soon.  This venture, however, created a hodge podge of stories too fantastically awkward and rewarding to put into one blurb.  It deserves a blog all its own.  So I’ll just call this part one of my venture into being a working girl–and an exploration of the things I will and will not do for a buck or two.

Money Conscious? No, Just Cheap.

I have money issues- severe stomach churning, panic inducing money issues.  No, I am not drowning in debt from an expensive shoe fetish nor am I making frequent secret trips to Check in to Cash. I am a hoarder.  (A professed hoarder at that, so you know it must be bad.)  I am the type of person that will buy the generic store brand of everything even if it means that the cereal tastes like saw dust and the make-up remover wipes are so abrasive they leave tiny scabs on my eyelids.

Besides the fact that this erratic and fear induced behavior probably just goes along with my rigid perfection obsessed personality type, my dad counsels people on how to get out of debt.  From the time that I was a pre-teen making a few bucks here and there off of odd jobs like scrubbing the filth off of the tennis courts in my complex, I was taught to save and spend my money wisely.  I guess I never heard the part about spending. 

When I moved my life to California a few years ago to be closer to my military honey, I had daily breakdowns usually always concerning my savings account that was dwindling before my eyes (driving 50 miles each way to a part time job that only paid a mere $10 an hour didn’t lend itself well to my preferred lifestyle).  This was all happening at a time when I was trying to be all Zen-like by reading the Dali Lama’s book on true happiness and looking up quotes from other Zen people about how to calm the fuck down.  But when the Dali Lama couldn’t get through the universe tried instead.  Driving to work one day I was talking to my mom about how pissed off I was that money was not flowing freely to me (go figure) when I ran over a massive boulder in the road and got a flat tire.  On the on-ramp to a California highway.  In my seething “I hate the universe” mentality I had just destroyed a $150+ tire. 

After screaming at the top of my lungs, (to myself since my cell phone battery was on its last leg and was threatening to die) I was able to call my new boss and after a horribly childish sob fest on my part, she told me she would come to my rescue.  She proceeded to ensure that I could drive on my spare tire (that was changed by an angelic truck driver) to somewhere where I could purchase a new one.  And then she bought the tire for me.  To me, this was the universe saying (in a way that was a bit too dramatic for my liking) “See, we told you you would be taken care of.”

I would love to say that this experience made me stop checking the contents of my bank account every couple of days to make sure that some freak computer malfunction hadn’t wiped out my entire life savings, but that is not the case.  I am still a money hoarder (perhaps a support group search is in order?) that is looking for that perfect rainy day or fantastically exotic trip to splurge on.  Until then I’ll just have to breathe through it and remind myself that spending is nothing more then an exercise in faith- and stating that there is always more where that came from.  Yes, I’ll just have to start there…

Here Goes Nothin’…

I was told months ago to start a blog but the idea of someone reading my writing and inevitably having an opinion about how I live my life, how I often make quick and offensive judgments about people, or even my sometimes poor grammar usage makes me literally feel the acid churning in my stomach.  So here’s to stepping out of a comfort zone that has served me well the past twenty-two years of my life but has flat out refused to give me the life that I really want. 

A month ago I donned a hideously shapeless graduation gown only to be handed a diploma that comes with no manual on how to enter into the “real world” (not sure what other world I was living in pre-graduation, but I suppose that is besides the point).  In truth I haven’t even received the actual piece of paper stating what I did for the past four years of my life, so all I have is a nice check mark on my hypothetical list of life goals.  What next?  A nervous tick that causes me to check and re-check Craigslist for new job postings every five minutes and this blog that may be nothing more then a place for my friends and family to read things that I wouldn’t normally say aloud.  At least now my assignments are my own and if I happen to sleep in past 8:30 on a Monday it can be my own damn business.

So blogger world I’m all yours.  Feel free to make all the judgments you wish, but please be kind.  There is only so much a recovering perfectionist can handle.