Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The Control Conundrum
I really don't like to think of myself as a control freak. I would much rather think of myself as an easy-going, whatever-floats-your-boat sort of person. In fact, it is one of my determined goals to get to that boat floating place before my time on this earth ends...if it kills me.
Alas, as Big Edie says in the 1970's documentary of Grey Gardens, I "have to live in this world" and that means that I have to accept that as organized and forward-thinking as I might try to be, I can't possibly have as much control as I'd like. There are other people doing their thing as well.
Between Wedding Planning Land and work transition, that feeling of being out of control has been exacerbated. I don't know how it is for other NOT control freaks (NCFs), but for me there is this nagging feeling that while I'd truly like to let go, I just know that it is going to come back to haunt me in a pile of doo doo that needs my attention to clean up. (Picking up others' dog poo has actually been my ongoing metaphor for the past few months) Teri says this is a combination of being a control freak and a martyr and it is decidedly NOT attractive as far as she is concerned.
So, when the neighbor's dog tears down and eats our wooden initials off a tree, or an outgoing employee accidentally deletes our donor database, my tendency is to ask myself what I could and should have done to keep such things from happening. After all, isn't it ultimately my responsibility to replace, fix or find a solution? Maybe not (okay, yes it actually IS my responsibility but I guess I don't have to go to the martyr place). Maybe it's just a thing that happens. Life goes on. As Teri points out, we Americans are very possessive and territorial about whatever little bits of stuff and space we think we have. Other cultures are much better at sharing, collaborating and existing in communal space. I also tend to cling to the birth order explanation--after all, I am an eldest and it comes naturally for me to feel a bit bossy and responsible. Teri is the barely-youngest of five (as an identical twin, she and her sister were the last family additions, but Teri is technically the last born) so she got used to not being in control or feeling responsible for others' actions and behaviors from an early age.
While I'm probably not going to ever be cured of my tendency to try to get on top of life's natural chaos, I tend to keep more and more of it to myself--which I think is relative progress. My over-developed sense of fairness and responsibility seems to go hand in hand with my judgment of those who don't seem to be doing their part (but so much of that is made up in my head anyway) and that feeds into that martyr syndrome: Oh, if I don't do it, who will???? I do have some awareness and I can have a sense of humor about it, but so far it hasn't stopped me from wanting to bring order to the world.
So, on I go. If truth be told, if it wasn't the Wedding or Work bringing out the urge to bring function to dysfunction and create smooth flow and checklists, it would likely be something else. While I do know that I can't control other people, I can't control the weather and I definitely can't be held accountable for everything, that doesn't seem to stop me from feeling the responsibility. If only...