The other night I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with one of my soul sisters. You know, the kind of close friend who's been with you forever, knows you in ways you don't know yourself, always has your best interest at heart, and takes a stand for your strength when you feel vulnerable or unsure of yourself?
The next morning, I woke up thinking about how much I love this woman. What would I do without her in my life? Who would understand me the way she does, tell me the truth, or offer me the kind of wisdom only someone with shared history can offer?
As I thought about our time together, I felt the fear of loss creep up on me. My heart started to shut down - just a little - the way it does when I've had a meaningful, intimate exchange that makes me fearful about losing someone I love. I shut down to feel in control - to feel safe.
The older I get the more aware I am of the control freak living rent-free in my head. She tries to control my thoughts and feelings. She wants to know the outcome before I take on something new. She does her best to manage my mood, my future, my whole damn experience of life. Oh, and she wants to control my loved ones, too, by telling them what they should do to stay safe, healthy and happy.
I'm not proud of this part of me. My need to control is the little secret I hide under the helpful advice I offer, the way I take care of things myself, or the skillful way I avoid trying something new that might cause me to feel anxious or vulnerable.
The truth is, I'm just scared. We all are. I'm afraid of needing people who can't be there for me so I take care of things myself. I'm afraid of being disappointed so I keep my needs under lock and key. I'm afraid of failing at something new so I stay in old places longer than I should. And I'm afraid of losing people I love. I don't want to think about facing something I can't handle like the loss of my husband or my sweet, little cat (in that order ).
But here's another great thing about getting older. Trying to maintain control is exhausting and boring and I just don't want to use my energy that way anymore. It feels bad and it doesn't work. The older I get the more I realize that we have far less control than we imagine. Control is a silly illusion.
Surrender is a whole different story. When I step back, take a deep breath, and trust in the loving nature of the Universe, I feel better. I'm not so afraid. And I make space for the evidence of Grace to reveal itself in the most delightful ways.
These days I'm letting go more and trusting that a Divine Power has my back. I'm relaxing and releasing. I'm going with the flow, riding the river, giving up and giving in.
Well, okay, maybe not giving up and giving in. Let's just say I'm giving it my best shot. I'm getting better at allowing faith to share space with the control freak in my head. Faith is so much stronger than fear anyway. I'm learning to trust that I can handle whatever comes my way even when it's painful and really hard. And I'm learning that I really don't have to do anything alone anymore. None of us do. We're here to help each other.
I hope this helps you surrender a little, too.
Take Action Challenge
Are you ready to relax your grip on life a little bit? Maybe let someone in to help? Share your vulnerable self with a safe buddy? Or allow Life to lead you somewhere new and delightful? Noticing where you hold on is a good first step.
If you'd like to give your control freak a voice, I'd be happy to listen on Facebook. You could share a place in your life where you could use a little more faith and discover that you're not alone.
Who better to teach us about letting go of control than a cat? This week's video highlights several cats that are learning to go with the flow. You can see it here. Thanks, Nicole!