Confessions of a Recovering Control Freak

control freakHi, my name is Christy and I am a recovering control freak. I belong to a secret society of people for which there are no meet up groups.

You know who you are.

You joke about being a control freak as you are wiping down someone else’s counter top or their child’s grubby, sticky-peanut butter/apple-juice stained face. You’re the guy who re-packs the trunk before vacation to make sure everything ‘fits.’ You iron everything. even things that are supposed to look crinkly (does anyone even own an iron anymore?). You put 20 chicken nuggets on the pan spaced exactly one-half inch apart so that they look like a regimented army of nuggets ready to march into the oven. When called out, you get defensive and claim you just want them to cook evenly. You bitch that no one helps you with the laundry but then bitterly complain because “no one knows how to fold towels anymore” as you refold them all the right way.

Yes. You.

There is nothing wrong with order and organization, don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer in process and structure. The world is chaotic enough and there is nothing worse than coming home to a chaotic life. And there is a certain comfort in routine in our chaotic lives. But take it too far and your life becomes out of balance, more about control than living. And I am the first one to let loose and I say I love spontaneity – but it’s usually few and far between the day-to-day grind. Reality smacked me in the face when I was moving a few years back and the movers teased me about the stacks and stacks of organizing bins, baskets, bowls, Tupperware boxes and racks that I had lined neatly up in rows for them to load into the truck. Ha, funny guys. So what if I organized my spices (in alpha order), my clothes in the closet by color, season.

Or maybe I just like order and efficiency. So I tell myself. (Or maybe I am a hybrid control freak/perfectionist.)

The problem is, it gets tiring trying to control everything and make everything ‘perfect.’ You miss out on fun. You are not fun to be around. You become the dreaded “fun sponge.” People wince when you walk into the room and eye up something they didn’t fold right, put in the right place or just don’t care about as much as you. You get irritated over stupid shit. You roll your eyes a lot. A lot. You have to stay one step ahead at all times. It’s exhausting. Pretty soon, nobody likes you. Including you. Worst of all, the people around you start to realize you will control everything anyway so they might as well just let you do it. So you end up doing everything.

The moment you realize that this sucks for you: :(.

I am still recovering, so I am not a completely reliable source, okay? But here are a few signs that PROVE to me the progress that I am making on my road to recovery. (Hey, every little baby step counts.)

  • I saw that the toilet paper holder thing had no rolls left and rather than immediately filling them up with four more to stay on top of it, I left it empty. Bereft of toilet paper. I felt guilty. It passed. I felt like such a rebel.
  • I put my contacts in before I went running and saw the true state of my kitchen floor. Normally  I would have swept and mopped immediately and then run to dishes and laundry. But no. I went running. Outside. It was awesome! (Disclaimer: When I came home I took my contacts out right away so I wouldn’t notice the floor and that helped me bypass the kitchen to lay around on the couch for 20 minutes watching Law and Order: SVU reruns.) I wavered at the second commercial, but told myself that this would be a good chore for my kids to do the next day and dammit, they should earn their allowance! (Prediction: I will end up redoing it after they are done. They are teenagers – enough said.)
  • I did not make my bed. THREE days in a row. On the fourth, I *did* make my bed but did *not* not add the throw pillows. That’s right, you heard me. I just left them on the FLOOR. In a big chaotic pile. Okay…can I just tell you how anxious this made me feel?? Fellow control freaks who love visual continuity and perfection, can I get an AMEN, please? I woke up, was busy, didn’t feel like doing it and thought – eh, who cares. I’m divorced and without man right now, why not? My dog will sleep on it in whatever state it’s in, so what the hell. I comforted myself with this new thought: I am the kind of person who has such a fun, busy, interesting life that I don’t have time to make my bed, I just have to dash out the door and get on with my life. (Disclaimer: I made my bed each night as soon as I got home. Had to admit that. Catholic guilt thing.)

IKR?? It’s gettin’ crazy at the Miles house!

I don’t have any pearls of wisdom to offer at the moment. I’m still fighting with me, myself and I about whether we should go to bed now or mop the damn floor and throw in a load of laundry. I will tell you this: there is this little part of me that is peeking out over the control freak wall going – hey, this is cool! You’re letting loose a fraction of an inch!! What are we not going to do, clean or organize next?

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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