The word ‘control’ seems to embody mankind’s split personality. We profess we are in control and turn around and toss it away unceremoniously. Both precious and free, we play with the word and cheapen its power. We speak of being “out of control” when it seems to me we attempt to and successfully score control over most everything in our lives constantly. We avoid paying the emotional costs of honesty.

Early in life, each person will be a “Three Year Old”. This is the inception of the control-freak. He’s loud and irrational and he is attempting a coupe of the household. And what results may be the point many lives fall apart and unhappy patterns solidify.

The TYO knows he is misbehaving. Heck, he knew at age two when he shot his parent a sly glance after making the test move. If no one brings the “No” and means it, then he begins to believe he’s not worth the effort of the parents’ love. He knows intuitively that if the parents loved him, they would’ve said no.

Moreover, the world frightens the TYO. The more he demands the restraint he needs the parent is not bringing, the scarier the world gets. When there’s no guidance to create a healthy internal parent, he’s got no skills or confidence to handle the scary world. Or when the over controlling parent drowns the TYO, they rob him of the empowerment for his own survival. This causes panic too. He’s screwed either way. Now he can develop compulsions to assuage his ever-growing bottomless fears.

Enter the self soothing simple choice of an addiction. I have dabbled in a few of these. They’re make-believe at best, life threatening at worst. I know a woman in recovery who believes everyone has some sort of addiction. I want to agree but I also hope for a few functional people in the world; those who’ve moved beyond.

Addictions are an adaptation and a response. A thumbed nose at the expectations of authority. However, reactions aren’t a true choice. They’re the TYO’s FU. Wear your fear on your sleeve or shamefully bury it, deep down there’s no authenticity or truth anywhere nearby. Maybe we you perpetuate and maintain the parent’s distorted vision of how you suck. Seemingly inadvertent, it is still a chosen perception and action. The trick is to recognize your power to choose any of it.

Even if you don’t believe you’re worth it, making choices and taking actions for your benefit are what your children will emulate. They will do as you do, not as you say. People will treat you as you treat yourself. Self-respect is learned. You learn it through practice and developing self-pride. Self esteem begets more of the same. And squelches grief.

And if children learn self-respect by watching you and heeding the boundaries and limits you have displayed, the next generation has more esteem and confidence and internal resources. Do we really want to raise another generation of heroine addicts? Or do we seed our earth with self-possessed people who can preserve the species and their planet for 20 generations to come? It’s really an individual choice. Choice is yours. Really it is.

There was no parental guidance at our house. I never knew how it felt to have my own back until I loved my kid so much I’d do anything to make him feel safe. Including healing myself. I had never loved myself that much to care. I attempt to provide him a contained safe world full of boundaries and limits until he can set his own.

Had you already chosen what you’d get from this piece? Not in need of any guidance I can provide? Is there a “right way” of doing things? Consider the reasons. Question your inner control-freak and see if you have been denied the recognition of your power to choose recently.

If you have any thoughts, please drop a word below in the comments. Or

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  1. Hallelujah! The world needs way more mom’s like you! Kids need boundaries, crave boundaries, actually WANT to hear “no” sometimes. A foreign concept to many. Well said Shavalee!

    1. Thanks Sarah for coming and reading my stuff. I was beginning to think my comment function was malfunctioning. Maybe I’ll meet your kids at Karen’s pool this summer. And we’ll swap war stories.

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