Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Control Freak

Knock knock
Who's there?
Control freak. Now you say "Control freak who?"

I love this joke and I hate it all at once. I love it because it's funny. I hate it because it describes one of my fatal flaws. I'm a control freak. It's who I am and it's why people hate me. It makes my children run in fear. It's what has ruined my entire weekend. It seems to be getting worse. In fact, I may have to join CFA (Control Freaks Anonymous). "Hi, my name is Karen and I'm a control freak." "Hi Karen." That's where I describe how I'm trying to run and ruin everyone's life. Why I can't just walk past my son without buttoning his collar or combing his hair until it looks neat. CF is why I can't sit and watch TV next to my husband because I'm thinking about how he needs a haircut or how his glasses need cleaning. It makes me follow my daughter around the house and make sure she's done her homework and cleaned up her room and ask repeatedly if she's washed her face lately. CF makes me tell my husband not only how to drive, but where to drive. Yesterday, it made my son scream at me and it made my husband leave the house to walk the dog. My control freakishness is driving my family away.

It's genetic, this disease. My father was the same way. I knew he was doing it when he'd look at me with a critical eye. I took it as disapproval and grew a healthy case of low self-esteem as a result. He was trying to help me out. At least that's what we CFs try to tell ourselves. If we don't say something, who will? What if he leaves the house looking like that? What will people think?

Who the hell cares? This is the single scariest thing for a CF to say. Because we always care. We'll go to our grave caring and therein lies the problem. We think that everyone is evaluating us and our families and our homes and we need to be prepared for this. If we're not willing to make it all perfect, then we'll hunker down and stay inside to guard our deepest secret: we're not perfect. In fact, CF makes us spend so much time obsessing over stupid things, that we often miss the main event. Holiday dinners are prime CF risk periods and cause us days of sleepless nights and pre-dawn list-making.

I find that my CF is cyclical. I'm better at certain times of the month and worse at others. When I straighten the seasonal flag outside the front door, it's pretty much raging. We control freaks don't hear voices, we hear silent criticisms. "Why did she let her daughter go out in THAT outfit?" "I can't believe she's driving around in a car that has bird poop on it." "Why would she say something like that?"

CF isn't just about appearances, it's about the total package. It makes me spend way too much time obsessing over a cocktail party so that there won't be any awkward moments of non-mingling. I worry about whether I've said the right things or made the appropriate responses to questions. I've been known to coach my husband before an office party, only to have made him focus on the totally wrong thing. Once again, me trying to control the situation and not letting people be themselves.

Being a mother and a control freak is particularly challenging. My job as a mom is about looking after my family. This makes it really hard to draw the line. When to nag just enough to get something done and not too much so as to create a future therapy candidate. It's like being an alcoholic bartender or a bariatric surgery patient working in a bakery. The opportunities to obsess are endless. Will I jump on them or use a bit of self-control?

I guess I've made the first step in recovery. I've admitted I have a problem. Now the question is whether I'm truly willing to do something about it. Whether I can let go one day at a time. Aaaaaaack. This is killing me!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home