The C Word

Control.

I want it. I cannot have it.

I want Control over my life, yes, but even more I want Control over my children’s lives. I want them to be happy, but not selfish. I want them to be smart, both in books and street. I want them to be respectful, but wise. I want them to understand that our culture is sick, but I don’t want them to disengage/numb from it. I want them to seek adventure, but always with a helmet and an exit strategy.

I want them to wash their fucking hands and brush their goddamn teeth.

I want them to be Perfect.

And why shouldn’t they be?! I have spent a lot of time thinking about them and finding them the perfect schools and the perfect milk and the perfect limitations for electronics and sassiness.

And still they are defiant and whiny and ungrateful. In fact, they even seem UNHAPPY sometimes. How dare they be unhappy? Don’t they know how hard I am trying here? Why can’t they just get with the fucking program and be happy and self-actualized (whatever that is)? Instead, I look at them and think, “holy hell, they are just like me, but without concern for hygiene.”

I wish I could gracefully give them the Gift of Failure. I wish I could look at them serenely when they are insisting on not following some rule and say, “Ok, son. Go ahead and touch that hot stove because I can see that suffering a first-degree burn is the only way you’re going to believe that the stove is hot and dangerous.”

But we live in a zero tolerance world. Especially for boys. Failure could easily turn into broken bones, an overturned car, a prison sentence. (Yes, my boys are 9 and 11 and I can totally see that these concerns are not, most likely, going to happen today. But the future is right around the corner and we need to prepare, people.)

If they would just LISTEN to me, everything would be perfect. They would be perfect. Because, it turns out, I have the power to raise perfect children. Right? Because I am perfect, yes?

Deep breath. Heavy sigh. My little “24 Hours A Day” book tells me that “worry is terrible mental punishment.” And it is. It really, really is. But how to do this? How to let go of these destructive thoughts of perfection and this desire for control?

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Not yet, at least

I’ve been getting caught up in my mind about AA and am starting to get agitated.

AA can be so helpful. But with every story of DUI, divorce, incarceration, etc., I (thankfully) have to add my “not yet” ending. These things had “not yet” happened to me, but I quit drinking anyway.

But it’s getting harder to connect, rather than easier. There are some truly broken people in those rooms. I am so glad that they are there, surrounded by people who get it and get them.

But I don’t really get them. And I don’t think they really get me. And I feel like an impostor.

Some of their stories are so funny the entire room laughs out loud. Some of their stories are so sad that there is barely a breath taken and the silence is all consuming.

But not one of their stories is like my story. Not yet.

When I read the sober blogs, I say “yep, that’s me.” Pretty much every time I am reading one of you, I feel a connection, albeit virtually. But that doesn’t happen in AA they way I want it to and they way I need it to. I can almost talk myself into drinking again, just so I can get really shitty and then fit in at AA.

How fucked up is that?

I’m reading Brenee Brown and she keeps talking about the human need to connect … she keeps saying how we are “hard wired for connection” and has all this data to make her point. I don’t need that much evidence to convince me. I know the power of having someone say “Me Too.” It’s better than any bottle of wine ever was.

I know I want to live my life clearly and intentionally. And “clearly and intentionally” do not happen when I am drinking. A lot of other things do not happen when I drink either. For instance, I do not “break out in handcuffs” or punch coworkers or climb into random limousines.

Not yet.

The truth is “not yet” feels a hell of a lot like “at least.” And there is no connection with “at least.” Instead, it’s all judgement and distance and “I’m so glad that’s not me,” rather than “that is exactly like me.”

I don’t know what any of this means. I love the spirituality of AA. I love the honesty of AA. I love the acknowledgement of brokenness at AA.

But I don’t love AA.