For whatever reasons that only my therapist finds interesting, I have been a control freak from a very early age. If things didn’t go how I wanted them to go, man oh man everyone look out. Especially me. I would swallow my agony and just buckle down and try to control more. I mean anything: homework, cats, parents, friends, my body, my room was organized within an inch of it’s life — the whole thing was a disaster waiting to happen.
As my cancer diagnosis unfolded, I quickly began to realize that trying to exert control over a process that I barely even understood A) didn’t work, and B) was just creating unnecessary stress. Therefore, for the first time in my life, I gave up on control. To be clear, JUST over my cancer and treatment. You can be damn sure I kept trying to control everything else: my husband, my family, my job, my schedule and friends, all the stuff and time and things.
That worked for my treatment but didn’t work for my life. The calm I found in the hospital became some weird idyllic moment for me the longer I was out of the hospital, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t understand why my life felt so unbelievably out of my own control. And then I had emergency open heart surgery. And then, for all intents and purposes, I gave up. I looked at my life and my health and realized that my best thinking had gotten me into a job that I found uninspiring and a body that was almost dead. So, I stopped believing what my brain kept telling me.
“If you just try harder, this will get better.” Nope.
“If you just manipulate this situation over here, this thing over here will calm down.” Not a chance.
“If you just bully your body into health, then it will be fine.” FUCK. OFF.
So I came to an agreement with my brain. I control what goes into the empty spaces in my body. Everything else my brain can contemplate and weigh and ultimately choose, but my brain doesn’t (because it can’t) control it. My brain is still getting used to this agreement. Work in progress, shall we say.
Empty spaces. In one of my meditations, I picture my body as an empty space. I fill it with love and healing and connection and quiet. I fill it to bursting. Then I fill it some more. Then I bath in the colors of my now-filled beautiful body. Then I open my eyes and go about my day. Making choices, creating, reacting, interacting, working, loving, thinking, but not controlling.
And other than recovering from a broken wrist, I’m healthier than I have ever been. My brain, always in need of evidence, is chewing on that.
Photo by Laurent Perren on Unsplash