“How wild it was, to let it be.”
― Cheryl Strayed,
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
The invasion of the body snatchers began during my seventh month of pregnancy.
I stood behind my husband as he sat in a chair in the living room. To his right was a small table upon which sat a mostly-empty water glass. I stood, waiting…in a trance. He realized I was behind him and turned around.
“Almost done?” I asked.
“Have you been standing there waiting on me to finish this water?”
A curtain of horror fell in front of my eyes, and I nodded, realizing I had lost my mind. He handed me the glass, his eyes filled with lots and lots of questions. I walked to the kitchen, placed the glass in the dishwasher, and walked out the front door.
I kept on walking. I could hear my heart beating inside my ears. I kept walking. I continued up the hill and panted like a fish on a riverbank as I rounded the curve to the US Forest Service road.
I kept walking.
I started to feel better. I had returned to my body.
I rubbed my stomach.
“Hey, Little Man. Mommie is okay, I promise. Just too many hormones at the moment. Waaaaay too many hormones. I think this is what the books call my Nesting Phase.”
The Control Fairies had made their first visit. I could hear tiny giggles in the distance.
How Control Freak-ing Curbs Creativity
After Adam was born, the Control Fairies started gathering in larger numbers, and their visits became more frequent. I slept like a border collie at the edge of a herd of sheep, deep in coyote country, with one eye open and on high alert.
“Huh, what? What was that? Is Adam OK?”
I’d creep over to his crib to inspect his vitals. Bow my head to listen. Light hand on his back. Rising and falling. OK, he’s breathing. All clear. Back to bed.
Years later, I’d listen intently to discern the difference between shrieks of joy and those of pain, fear, or sadness.
“Huh, what? What was that? Is Adam OK?”
Adam turns 21 in eleven days and I’m still working on letting go of control. I’m still doing some version of the above to this day. Happily, I am able to gain perspective, observe myself in full-on, fretting-control mode, and pull myself out of the churn almost as quickly as I fall into the soup.
Some days, it’s a full-time job.
Tiny giggles in the distance.
This is no longer hormones. This is a Habit, accompanied by a chemical concoction that surges through my brain when I indulge in certain catastrophizing thoughts. Neural track created over two decades ago. It is absolutely within my power to choose different thoughts and a different focus, and in the process, liberate energy and creativity.
How about you? Are you exhausted from holding up the world?
What could we create with all of that energy instead? All of that focus? All of that attention and intention?
How are we letting our history shape every day of our lives now? AND, how are we using that history as a convenient excuse for our not creating?
The Creative Freedom in Letting Go of Control
Best-selling author, Byron Katie, has a wonderful way of putting into perspective the human desire to run/control everyone else’s lives. She asks, “If you are so busy being in someone else’s business, who’s running your life?”
Now, if you are thinking you are exempt, let’s look at this way: when was the last time you said to yourself, “So and so should be doing X….?” (“So and so” could be a child, a spouse, a co-worker, a client, your assistant, your waiter, a parent, etc etc.)
5, 10 minutes ago? Right. We all do this.
We are supremely, chronically, overly concerned with what other people are doing.
In our defense, most of this stems from a good place in our hearts. A desire to protect, keep others from harm, get the intended result, have the desired outcome.
A desire for a person, a situation, a project, a moment, a vacation to be A-OK.
How about we try letting go of control? (I am saying this out loud to myself, as well as to you. I’m working on letting go of control… and you should too.)
How about we try having some faith with a dollop of hope?
At the end of the day, we don’t know what will happen. We don’t know if our souffle will collapse, our venture will fail, our child will skin his knees, our new service/product will find market fit, or if our joke will get a laugh.
Can we find room for letting go of control, letting go of certainty and choose to love The Unknown?
Or, maybe if we cannot muster love for The Unknown, can we at least cozy up to it? Maybe share some quality time together under a warm blanket, with some newfound courage to give our creativity more room to run, unbridled.
The baby is still breathing. It is important for us to let ourselves breathe, too.