Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Total Control

Does anyone else out there remember a movie called "She's Out of Control"?  It was a totally awesome 80s movie, featuring a makeover that made a shy, bookish girl totally irresistible to the opposite sex.  Her father, played by Tony Danza, freaks out about this, and tries to stop it by a tactic that he calls "Total Control".

Like most control freaks, he's doomed to failure.  And I was thinking about poor old Tony Danza in this film, and how "Total Control" doesn't work. At all. In fact, it makes things a lot worse.

You know there's a metaphor coming, don't you? Yes, well...those who know me, will know that I am somewhat of a control freak.  Not the control freak who has to have a clean house. That would be nice.  Mess, I can live with, but when people start doing things in a way that I don't like, I'm not so cool.

And I have learned to evolve from this.  Back 15 years ago, I was a very very judgemental 21 year old, who thought that most people were "sheep" and that "it would be so much easier to be stupid, as I wouldn't be troubled by all these agonising thoughts".  I was also a grammar Nazi of the highest degree and judged books by their covers.  Needless to say, life wasn't easy, as I catapulted into many other people living their lives and doing things that I didn't think were right.  I judged, I judged hard.  And the one I judged the hardest, was myself.  I hated lots of people, places and things, but the one I reserved the most hatred for, was myself.  I never knew why.  But from the age of about 8, I can remember viciously hating myself and who I was.  Wanting to be someone else.  Watching other people and finding out the right and wrong ways to do things.  Trying to imitate them. Not trusting myself, not knowing who I was, but knowing that whatever it was that lurked inside me, it was damaged and untrustworthy.  Other people had the answers.  But not the stupid people.

It wasn't much fun being trapped in judgement like that, and over the past 15 years, I have sought various therapies to combat these disordered ways of thinking.  And I like to think that I'm fairly evolved...but do you know what? I'm still a victim of "Total Control".  I don't like just going with the flow...unless I decide to.  I hate surprises.  It has been brought to my attention by my brilliant psychiatrist, Dr Chakrabarti, and my clever mama, that I still try too hard to manage the way that other people see me.  I love myself these days, but I still want to control the way that you see me.  I still want a barrier between us. I still hide.  I still want people to behave the way that I want, but I reserve the right to change what that way is at any given moment.  No wonder it is confusing to be in my head, let alone in my life.

My past is littered with friends who I have totally confused by my inability to be real with them.  My insistence on managing how often we contact each other.  My insistence on the interactions that we have. My anger when things don't go my way. My repeated attempts, when we grow apart, to bring us closer together, to prove that I am cool and funny and interesting....that end up looking needy and even frightening.  I am scared of how much I want to be liked, how much I need social interaction and roles in society to prove my worth and my function.  I must manage socialising or I fear I will cease to exist.  I don't trust that at my essence, I will be satisfactory.

I realised yesterday that I think if I don't chase people and convince them to be my friend, that I won't have any friends.  How screwed up is that?  A friend of mine recently withdrew from friendships and obligations, and I didn't understand her thinking. How could she do that, how could she trust that people would still remember her.  I remember her saying that it was a way of trusting God more.  And I now totally and completely get that.  God does not want me to live in isolation, he has made us for relationships with each other.  But the thing is, that he wants to be first.  He has amazing, wonderful, beautiful things in store for us that way outweigh the pitiful attempts that we make to manage and control our own lives.  And I think I've reached that point.  I keep ending up at the same spot..and saying "If I do the same thing, perhaps I'll get a different result"...which, as we know, is in-freakin-sanity!

I'm scared, but I'm ready to let go. I want God in control of my life and I want to stop being Tony Danza.  No more "Total Control". 

I want to give God all of me and see what he has in store when I stop orchestrating my life and the way people see me.  I have been made this way and put in this place for a reason.  Time to start living in the sun and stop hiding in the dark.

Deb :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

This is where it all began

Chapter One.

My life began the way it continues to be - with a family who cherishes me.  I was always supported, always given love and had two parents who had fun together, and with us separately.  They brought us up to believe in God, and Mum especially always had time to listen to us and our feelings.

So why did I feel so scared all the time?  I guess I've always been predisposed to anxiety.  It's in my genetic lottery.  Many generations of my ancestors have suffered from the black dog and his worrywart relatives.  I believe I was destined to walk the journey that I have.....although it took me a long time to find acceptance about who I am and why I am the way I am.

I remember being terrified for a large portion of my life.  I was scared of school, scared of leaving my mum.  The only time I wasn't really scared was safe in the bosom of my family.  I was an extrovert at home and an introvert in public.  I was so shy, that I couldn't speak a lot of the time, and had a good line in blushing.

I didn't go to the toilet or eat my lunch a lot of the time at Kinder (first year of school), because the mean boys stood outside and said they were going to catch and kiss us.  A well adjusted child would have potentially just went in - I was a bit prone to going to extremes, and so developed a fear of men that kinda still haunts me to this day. 

See her? She's 6, but she's scared of the photographer and the big flash.  I can see the fear in my eyes.  It's actually my standard smile!  When I was 5, we moved to Papua New Guinea, and lived on Igam Barracks in Lae.  Dad was in the army, and working as a doctor.  I suppose there was a lot to be scared of, the threat of violence and being in a different country.  I don't think it really impacted me adversely, but I did continue my fear of both boys and toilets.  I didn't go to the bathroom at school at all, because there were no doors on the stalls.  I remember one horrendous day on the bus, when I couldn't hold my bladder any longer, and peed in my pants.  I was sitting over the aisle from my younger sister, Jen, and watched transfixed, as the yellow trail crept along my seat, and dribbled onto the aisle.  The trail worked its way towards the bus driver, then as the bus gained momentum and lurched along the streets, it doubled back on itself, and headed towards the big kids down the back of the bus.  Jen and I stared at each other in horror.......and sure enough, soon one of the big kids noticed.... "Who did a wee in the bus!!", they gaped in disgust.   Funnily enough, that's where my memory ends. I suppose that I got off the bus all wet, or put my bag behind me.  I certainly don't remember being particularly traumatised by it.

What I do remember being traumatised by, is the boys who lived on Barracks.  I was constantly scared of them. I don't really know why. I don't know what I thought they would do to me.  I do remember one of mum and dad's friends teasing me, and I was very worried by what he said.  "My, isn't she a tall girl?",he said as he smiled down at me.  I ducked my head and flushed.  "She's a lucky girl", he continued, "She's got nice long legs that will help her run away from all those boys who are going to chase her!".  At this, he laughed uproariously.  I was gripped by anxiety.  Boys...chasing me? Again? Like Kiss Chasey?  I pictured myself running really fast and the boys chasing after me.  What would happen when they caught me?  I didn't like to think about it, and resolved not to talk to any boys.  That way nothing bad could happen.

It probably didn't help that I was the eldest of three girls.  We socialised a bit, and I sometimes played with the boys on barracks, but I didn't really trust them.  At any stage they could start to chase me, or do something strange.  Boys were different to me and I didn't want any part of them.  I had a best friend called Jordana, and I would hide beind the bus seats with her and pretend we were husband and wife.  I liked that a lot better than playing with the boys. 

In 1984, we returned to Australia, moving to Canberra, where dad got a government job.  I started Year 3 and after a bout of pneumonia, moved schools to Trinity Christian School in Waniassa.  I struggled with socialising and making friends.  Apparently, the way I started a lifelong friendship, was to approach a girl, pin her up against the wall and say "I'm going to kill you!".  This continued until I started saying "I'm going to kill you, but not today", until apparently the death threats stopped completely and we became friends.   I don't remember this at all, but it fits in well with the idea that I was somewhat of a lonely, mixed up girl.  Again - none of this was visible in my family (that I'm aware of) - at home, I was the oldest, I was happy to play games with my sisters and have fun with my mum and dad.  I didn't know that usually people aren't two different personalities at home and at school.  More was coming, too. Puberty was coming.....what fun that would be!