This machine (along with nurses bustling about) was the soundtrack to my Sunday this week, as I laid in bed in the ER.
After a morning of excruciating pain and some horrendous symptoms that I won’t mention, I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with several kidney stones. And when I say “I went”, what I really mean is “when I was taken there begrudgingly after being told numerous times that I needed to go.”
Why did I need to be forced? Because I’m a control freak. I can admit it. I try my best not to be, but I have a very hard time relinquishing that role of dominance. When things are out of my control, I panic. I fight against the overwhelming current and I demand to steer the ship. It’s my comfort zone.
I grew up with no control over anything that happened to me. My vote counted for nothing and I had no say in my own story. Now that I’m an adult with the power to make my own decisions, I make sure to always use that ability. I use it for all the times I never could. I speak up, I stand up, and I don’t let anyone make choices that are rightfully mine. When someone is trying to take control over a matter in my life, I can feel my voice being muted and my immediate reaction is to fight against it. I’m not trying to be a remote control, in charge of every channel and function. I’m just done having sideline seats to my own life.
Now I’m a planner. I spend my days making lists, scheduling, and writing down important reminders. I don’t like surprises. So when I woke up to a sudden shift in my routine this weekend, I struggled against it.
I was sitting on the bathroom floor, unable to speak or breathe through the pain, wishing for the Grim Reaper himself to come put me out of my misery – and I still couldn’t let go. I kept thinking about the kids and how I needed to be there with them. I thought about all the things we had planned for the day, that would no longer happen if I walked out the door. I was sure that if I kept holding on just a little bit longer, it would magically go away and I could go about my day. I could handle this.
Then I started to think about what I’m always telling other parents. “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” No matter how many times I give that advice, I always seem to try to do just that. I forget to listen to my own words. I attempt to shake every last drop out of that cup, then wonder in frustration why I can’t get any more out of it. I had to come to terms with the fact that there was nothing more I could do, and I was no longer in control. I was empty.
I wasn’t doing myself or my family any good by being stubborn. I couldn’t be what they needed if I wasn’t taking care of myself. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I just…let go. I let go of the feeling that things would fall apart without my direction, and the idea that I could do it all on my own. It was now out of my hands.
Know what I realized? Everything was okay. My kids were okay, I was okay (as much as I could be), and the world didn’t collapse around me. Honestly…left to my own quick decision, I would have chosen wrong. I would have made the choice to suffer through it and risk possibly getting much worse without intervention. My family would have watched me bear the unbearable, and I would have been hurting them by hurting myself. Thankfully for me, I’m surrounded by people who love me enough to take over the steering when I can’t.
Sometimes, whether we give permission or not, things are going to happen. And we can choose to either hold on tight and chance making things harder, or we can loosen our grip and trust that life will unfold naturally and the way it’s supposed to.
It’s not easy letting go of that overwhelming need to control, but I’m working on it. And just in case I forget – I’m going to write down a reminder in my planner.