Control: the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events.

Control shows up in in different ways – being controlled by another; controlling someone else; or controlling the events in your own life. Having been controlled by my ex and my mother for years, being subjected to manipulation and the other person’s desire to have influence or power, is no stranger in my life. I am intimately familiar with this scenario.

Controlling others? Well, I have a tendency to be passive-aggressive and have to work hard to not manipulate people via their emotions or their weaknesses. In a world where I have felt our of control for most of my life, the desire to be in the power seat is quite seductive. It is hard to not behave in the manner of the people that have been the controllers in my life. I am mortified when I realise that I have fallen into the trap and behaved in this way.

I have mostly felt like a marionette in my life – being pulled this way and that by the strings attached to me. I have compensated for this in various ways – doing things that are dangerous and only just within the scope of my control figures a lot. From driving recklessly, to consuming vast amounts of alcohol, and much in between, most of which has left me embarrassed and ashamed. But in that moment – I was queen of my own life. I felt so alive and so present. I felt free from all the strings and obligations and responsibilities. I was doing what felt good to me at that point in time, irrespective of how reckless I was being. I have always tried to be conscientious of others and not impact on anyone else, but it has not always panned out that way.

Now that I am divorced, my ex still does his damnedest to be in control. It has really knocked me for six over the last few months. My anxiety and depression were back in full swing. By the end of most days, I was feeling nauseous from worry. I felt like I had lost a year of my recovery. It was like I was still living in the house. I was often on the verge of dissociation and constantly felt triggered. I could not focus for long periods of time and struggled to make even small decisions. As much as I detest taking medication, I acknowledged that it was time to get in some help in that form, as it was getting steadily worse. I had no room for worse – I had to function for the sake of my children, if nothing else.

Cue the new drugs. I am back to “normal”, in that the anxiety is under control and the feeling of hanging on by my nails has gone. I feel quite numb and I am still trying to discern if this is just readjustment after a few months of constant stress, or if the meds have taken away most of my emotions. I have also lost my hunger signals. I hardly ever feel hungry and need to remember to eat, whether I feel like doing so or not. I have noticed that I can quite easily go for a day with no food, as long as I have liquid. It has crossed my mind on more than one occasion to see if I can push that to 2 days, or get by with eating only one small meal a day, but this comes down to a control addiction if I start playing into those ideas. It is a path that can lead to serious health consequences. But the temptation is great. Both from the view that I can control my weight by not eating and from the view that skinny people are more acceptable. And I long for acceptance. I was unwanted as a baby and that has pervaded my entire life.

Now I need to learn about healthy control – setting boundaries comes to mind, particularly with my ex. Learning how to not be sucked into the games is also vital and best done when in a clear frame of mind. Unlearning a lifetime of patterns and habits is no mean feat. I intend to persevere.

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