Because Control Feels Safe: A Poetic Articulation of How to Stop Saving these Bros
Because control, even the appearance of control, feels safer than vulnerability, we reach around our own wound to fix his. I’m talking to my sisters who hunt when they want to be found, give when they want to receive, push and pull when they just want to be. If I’m not talking to you, then I’m talking to me.
Have you ever wanted something for someone that they obviously didn’t want for themselves? Has that something ever been you? And, you try to present a case of perfection, explain how amazing you are, how boss you are, how independent you are, how little effort you might actually require if they would just love you. You sell yourself as self-sufficient, and you have had to be so long that you don’t even know you’re telling stories. You think because you’ve survived, and maybe you’ve thrived, that you don’t need what you’re too afraid to say – for fear of sounding like a little girl. To say, “I need to be loved out of this loneliness” aloud, even to yourself, feels humiliating. To say it to him would be blasphemous, so you just lie and act like you don’t need a thing.
Until you do, and then your expectations for who he should be creep into your actions. You mother him into an amazing man. You build him, from broken pieces, cutting your fingers. You act like you aren’t bleeding to build him. You pour in, and you ask for little to nothing in return, except for everything every once in a while. But, you take it back quickly and apologize for the request. Embarrassed, you don’t want him to know you’re a mess.
You chose and chase the one who looks the best. You choose and chase the one who passes the professional litmus test. You choose and chase the one in the most distress. It doesn’t even cross your mind to confess that you are, beneath what look like walls, tender to the touch. And because you can take crumbs and make soul food, you think a full healthy meal is asking for too much.
If this sounds like you (girl, it sounded like me too):
- Try to be still for a minute. It’s okay when you don’t perfect this on the first try. Check how much you chase and what you actually feel when you do chase or get the urge to chase. You’ve got to know how much you actually like control to relinquish it a bit. You also have to be aware of how control has seemingly saved you in some moments and ruined you in others so you can be realistic about its use. You’re so right that you are smart and well educated because you controlled your education. You probably also don’t like group work, because you can’t control the outcome of the project…and “slackers.” I feel you. I really do.
- Tell yourself who you really are and what you really feel. Take however long it takes to tell yourself the absolutely truth about you. It may take months or years, but knowing and naming yourself, as is, good, bad, great, and ugly, is the first step in this work. If you’re lonely, say it. If you’re desperate, say it. If you’re in incredible pain, say it. If you are tired as hell, say it.
- Accept the parts of yourself that feel the most shameful. All of the things you named that make you cringe need the type of unconditional acceptance that a healthy, loving mother would give. Acceptance does not replace accountability, but it comes before correction. Mother yourself.
- Decide which parts need to grow. Choose one or two and commit to the gardening process. Prune what needs to be out of your life. Water what is good for you. Appreciate the sometimes painstakingly slow process by noticing the small ways you are changing for the better. Affirm yourself each day, with gratitude. This can happen in relationship with someone or outside of it. It is harder with a partner, but it can be done in a healthy way with good boundaries.
- Get therapy and enjoy playtime. Sit with a professional who can attend to your family history, culture, relationship style, and current presentation. Tell the therapist who you are, how you want to grow, and what that process is like for you. Let yourself be helped through it. Also, do the one thing (just one for now) that you used to do as a kid that freed you. Dance, sing, draw, run, play kickball, read for fun, play an instrument, enjoy nature, whatever. Try to remember that thing and do that thing with regularity. Reintroduce yourself to play, joy, innocent wonder, and not being the best.
If you’re in a “situationship” right now, and you think you’re doing the most, chasing in a way that feels like too much, I have a free worksheet to help you take one step toward self-awareness and letting go. Click here, complete the form, and write “I’d like a worksheet” in the comment section to let me know. Write whatever else too. I love to hear from you., by : Dr. Candice Nicole