Day 7: Controlled Chaos

Control. I love it.

As I continue to hit AA meetings, I’m starting to see that I’m not the only one with control issues. In fact, most of us alcoholics have them. It’s a special breed of OCD and unless you’re actually thinking about and examining your thought process, it’s easy to miss. I did.

I want everything to go down in a very specific sequence, and, when one variable in my plan is skewed, I throw in the towel for the whole shebang. I inevitably end up thinking: Fuck it. Why bother.

Digging deeper, I’m starting to see this as a theme in my life more and more. And, I wonder why I never finish anything I start. My life is a book of unfinished sentences. Some are important, and some are just the punctuation. With this new found discovery, I’m starting to realize, that when I boil every incomplete dream down, it usually has to do with the same thing: Fear of failure.

As an only child growing up, there was this unspoken pressure. A feeling that I needed to get it right. Perfect even. Because, there’s no one else to deflect to. If my plan failed, I had no partner in crime at which to point a finger. It’s a spotlight that I wasn’t always keen on standing in, but, there I was, center stage.

For the most part, I succeeded. I did really well in school, I was well mannered, I was well behaved. And, but for a few incidents, I managed to stay out of trouble.

In adulthood, my mind continues to operate this way. Constantly seeking approval. Evading judgement. Keeping everything in its right place. And, as things started to spin out of control for me, I was able to maintain a façade of togetherness. In AA I have come to discover that this ‘facade’ is actually just dishonesty. I lied to to my parents back in New York City about how well things were going out here in Oregon. Because, well, in some way I still seek and strive to be that perfect, straight A student in their eyes. Not a waitress with a DUII.

Just when things were on the supposed up’n’up, my drinking spiraled out of control. I started managing a restaurant as opposed to waiting tables, I thought I was finally shaking the noose of my past relationship off my neck, I was in great physical shape. And then it all imploded. Superficially, everything was on track — this great new plan. But, all these little variables were wrong. All these little pieces that I couldn’t find a way to micro-manage. And, so, I drank them all down. Swallowed them whole. Instead of just giving them up. Letting them go. Regrouping.

Step 3, we turn ourselves over to the care of God. A pretty scary thought when you’ve been running the show. But, even as I think about it, there is a sense of relief. Relief that it’s not me that has to take care of all these little details. Relief that I can just live and let live, and not make some big mess of things I shouldn’t have meddled with in the first place.

Perfection isn’t the point. I’m learning this now.

Better late than never. I have sentences that need finishing.

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