One of my most challenging character defects is the desire to control people and situations. When I was young, I learned that being in control was a sign of strength and independence. It meant that person had “it” together. Being in control, or trying to be, tied into some of my other defects. I am a perfectionist and a people pleaser. If I’m in control and everything goes my way, then it will be perfect and everyone will be happy. Right?
As I’ve grown in S-Anon, I’ve come to see the fault in that thinking. I’ve learned the hard way that even when things go my way they can turn out very far from perfect. My life, when I was in charge, was full of unhappiness. I felt miserable most of the time. I felt unlovable. I felt like I was a fraud. If people knew the real me, they would never like me. By projecting a people-pleasing, perfectionist appearance, I felt like I was hiding the true, imperfect, unacceptable me. I was in love with the sexaholic who was spending more time and money with his addiction than with me and this only seemed to reinforce my feelings of being unacceptable.
When I arrived at the door of S-Anon, I was desperate for a way out of my despair. I didn’t know how things could change, but I knew I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with myself and was willing to try anything. I wasn’t sure about the Higher Power thing. I was skeptical, but part of being willing to try anything meant setting that skepticism aside, I saw that others were relying on a Higher Power and having good results, even if they struggled with who or what that Power might be. I figured it was worth a try.
At first, I turned over little things, things I wouldn’t be too disappointed with if it didn’t pan out how I wanted. As I practiced, it became easier to let go of bigger things. I recall the first time I handed the sexaholic in my life over to my Higher Power. I pictured a tiny version of him in my hands, and I visualized lifting him up into the air and simply watching as he floated up to whatever was up there. I felt better, but I still felt a weight on my heart, I figured this process needed to be repeated. I kept visualizing this and kept feeling better. By the end of my meditation, I was chucking him up to the heavens! Maybe it ended a bit forcefully that time, but I felt like I could do something to help myself instead of being a passive victim.
Since then I’ve had other times of crisis when this slogan has been useful. When I find myself preoccupied with worry, usually over whether or not the sexaholic will make a healthy decision or not, I turn to prayer and focus on “Let Go and Let God.” My prayer goes something like this:
“God, I know I have no control over this person. Yet the worry over what he is going to do is really getting to me. I feel sick with worry and I can’t pay attention to the things in my life that I need to. I know he is yours and you will take care of him, even if that means learning a lesson. I know you’d do the same for me and will take care of me, too. I’m tired of feeling this way. You do a much better job running the world. You can have it back for today. If something bad does come of this, I know you’ll be there for me, and I will make it through. Let’s go through the things I can do to take care of myself.
By the end of this process I usually feel like things are back in order. I identify what healthy things I can do to take care of myself and what things are Higher Power’s. I feel like that strong, independent person I always wanted to be.
Reprinted from the Fall 2010 issue of The S-Anews©.