Posted by: Marie | December 24, 2009

(210) Turning loose of control

Post #210
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, August 6, 2009]

My work schedule is about to jump back to fulltime this coming week (I work for the school district). I have been feeling emotionally stable lately . . even to the point of being happy. I am sure it has a lot to do with how relaxed my schedule has been.

I am concerned about my ability to remain mostly stabilized as the school year starts. I can feel the pressure starting to build . . I’m frantically aware of the fact I only have a little over three days of free time left before I have to ramp up my self-discipline and time management skills.

Ali Mountain by Martin Chen

In the past, my usual response to the anticipated ramp-up would be to make a very complex schedule and to-do list. It sounds like a very good idea . . . but, within the first 24-48 hours, I invariably get triggered, end up in a heap under my bedcovers, and don’t get even the basics done. Then, I feel like a failure – and shame takes over my body, mind and soul.

In the past, I have repeatedly told myself it will all be okay if I could just get my act together – if I could just grit my teeth hard enough.

I could easily see the repeated breakdown of my system. Yet, I really believed there was no other workable structure – anything less structured would be irresponsible – if anything, more structure would be the ultimate answer. The problem was obviously me – my weakness as a human being. There was no way the problem could be with the system.

Well, this summer, I have been entertaining the possibility the problem lays mostly within my system. I have been entertaining the possibility that I could be productive in the absence of such extensive structure. My work in the “Courage to Heal” book has been instrumental in my willingness to consider those possibilities.

So . . . here is what I am going to do in these last few days of free time . . .

I will create a list of things that need to get done each day/week/month. I’m not going to put time values on them, I’m not going to commit to doing them at a particular time of day. I’m not going to track how many of them I get done (or don’t) each day. I’m not going to have a points system.

I will place a priority on each one . . . and I will do them in order of priority. That way, I know I’m not missing the really important stuff. But, I’m not going to attach any meaning to how far down the list I get each day.

I am not going to plan my meals. Instead, I’m going to continue to embrace emotions like I have been doing . . . and trust that this practice will minimize my desire to binge eat and overeat. It has been ten days since I last binged (that half-eaten pint of ice cream is still in the freezer) – so, I’m starting to put some stock in this practice.

In the absence of binging, I have been eating fresh produce and plenty of protein. I am taking the time to prepare whole grain dishes. I am doing this despite not having a plan to do so. I’m just doing it because I want to do it. This has never happened before. That is why I’m placing stock in this practice of embracing my emotions. I don’t think I really need an eating plan right now – I seem to be doing better without one.

I am not going to track what I put into my mouth. I know most nutritionists would recommend doing that – but it has a very negative effect on me. I’m just going to trust that I’m eating well – I think it is safe to assume that my nutritional intake is much improved since binging has gone away and fresh produce has made an appearance for the first time in months.

I’m not going to track my weight – I might check it once in a blue moon, but I’m not going to weigh myself everyday. I weighed this week and I know I have gained back 12 of the 21 pounds I lost this spring. However, given the fact I have eaten gallons of very rich ice cream since the weight loss challenge and have done virtually no exercise, that’s not too bad!

I’m not going to plan my exercise. Instead, I’ll go hike (or whatever) when I feel like it. I’m going to listen to what my body wants – instead of doing what some charted plan says I’m supposed to do. I’m not going to write down how much exercise I performed. I’m just going to enjoy the endorphins running around my body in the afterglow.

As I’m writing this, I can feel my body starting to relax. This is exactly what I needed to hear from myself. I needed a reprieve from perfectionism. Good. I’m learning to listen to my body – and to honor what it is saying.


Speaking about “control” . . .

The posts that are being published right now (in August) are the ones about the last days of my relationship with Dr. Barb. As I have been reading through them, I am seeing something interesting . . .

I couldn’t see it at the time, but I can see it now . . . how powerless I felt with her. Instead of empowering me to follow my instincts, she just kept trying to tighten control over me by regulating what I said in session, by regulating what I wrote in my journal, by trying to regulate what I thought and ate and how I exercised.

Instead of helping me to work through stuff, she just re-created the suffocating control I experienced with my parents. It could have been an opportunity, through “transference”, for me to learn how to shift my experience with authority figures.

However, I don’t think she was a “blank screen”. I think she was blindly entrenched in her part of the dance. I don’t think she was detachedly reflecting back to me. I think I was seeing her in our sessions, not a mirror.

When I selected her as a therapist, I selected an updated version of my parents. No wonder my relationship with my parents was re-enacted with her. Hmmmmm . . .

Quotes 121


  1. Great to hear things are going so well for you. Congratulations.

    Doc Barb did sound like a control freak. Unfortunately this is often the way – and leads me to speculate on what issues Doc Barb might have had and how she dealt with them (naughtly I know, never having met her; fun though).

    • Thank you, Evan, for the congrats . . .

      I’m still playing with finding that balance between structure and going with the flow . . . but this post really captured the beginning of a major shift in how I use my time and energy.

      I think you could easily be correct in your assessment of Dr. Barb — her appearance is quite “perfect”, controlled and inflexible. Your words allow me to look at her with a level of compassion, recognizing that she may be dealing with her own inner demons.

      – Marie

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