The Myths of the Controller
I have a very strong controller. They love to plan out my life for me. They love to tell me what I need to do to achieve a perfect life. They have logical ideas that sound completely accurate. I can’t argue with logic. If it makes sense, it must be right, right? One of my controller’s ideas about how life works is directly related to recovery. Well, many of their ideas are about recovery. None of them are good. But one of the most common ideas is that my life will start when I am done with recovery. One day, I will wake up and feel good. And then I will be able to live my life full of rainbows and unicorns. They are sure of it. And even as I write this, it sounds like it could be true.
But over the years of recovery, I have learned a few things. It is a journey. I know you already knew that. But do you really know that? Be honest. You think there’s an end date, don’t you? If you are like me, you are pining for it somewhere in the background of your mind. You long for those years where everything will be okay, where there won’t be anymore yuck emotions and memories of the past to get in your way, where life will just make sense. But it isn’t going to work quite like that. Don’t get me wrong, you will feel better. And then you will feel worse for a while. And then you will feel even better. And there will come a day where you will think to yourself, “I can live like this. This is okay. I no longer feel like all of life is entirely against me.” But by that time, you will want to keep going in recovery because you will have seen the benefits. It’s not an end date, but it is a day worth pining for.
Life is about growth. Life is about continually shifting and changing. It requires us to feel emotions, to evaluate our current thinking, to examine our patterns as they unfold. We are not here to stagnate. We are here to change. So while we deserve to rest and practice self-care, we will always be faced with decisions and changes and difficult situations. That won’t happen because we are being punished. That will happen because we are humans living a human life. I have been thinking about the transitions that seem never ending and I wanted to share some of the myths the controller perpetuates. It is important because our expectations of life need to change. If they don’t, every change will be met with too much resistance and we will live in a pain that feels endless.
Our relationships will get to a point where they don’t cause us any pain. This might be the biggest myth of all. We see the commercials with people eating a dinner in the backyard with 30 of their closest friends since high school. They are all laughing and seem to know each other deeply. There are no fights, no struggles. We want that too. But relationships are messy. And just when you figure out one mess, there will be another. Don’t get me wrong, there is progress. But you will cycle through levels of self-understanding that will make you more and more authentic over time. You will learn to set better boundaries. You will come to understand your patterns more deeply. And you will wake up to how they are playing out in your current life. People who once seemed perfect for you may suddenly become not so perfect. There may be struggles as you work through difficulties. And some relationships won’t last. But you are progressing as you go. That is what matters.
Our purpose will become crystal clear one day. Purpose is a funny thing. It is very elusive. And if you are working a job you hate, you might be frustrated by how hard your purpose is to pinpoint. But I have learned over these years that your purpose grows and shifts with you. As you become more grounded in who you are, your purpose does too. And the available information about your purpose matches where you are today. To be brutally honest, most of us are ignoring it. It sounds too impractical to the controller, so we invalidate it. And because of that, we never move past the first step we didn’t know was a step. But even when we do follow that first step, we will still only get the information we are ready for. It shows up in steps as we grow. While I have personally followed by purpose to levels of insanity (according to my controller), there are steps yet to take. I intuitively know this even if I don’t know what those steps are. So I keep going. Don’t forget to keep going.
Life and others are going to stop attacking me with all their requests soon. I am here to tell you that won’t happen in that way. If you continue to do whatever is asked of you by others, you will spend life lost in a sea of others’ priorities. This will not stop. Your ability to set boundaries is critical to handling it throughout your life. If you do not work with the beliefs that boundaries are selfish and invite retaliation, you won’t be able to fight off the endless stream of requests. Don’t get me wrong, they do lessen as you make your boundaries clear to others. People get the message. But there are always new people. And there are always new priorities according to them. Boundaries are a lifetime goal. Plan to use them as a part of your daily routine. They will serve you well.
I like to see recovery and life as a hand-in-hand process. Actually I don’t like it. But that’s the way it works. We grow and we take a new step. We grow more and we take another step. The more you can understand the process and stop looking for that shiny day when everything is perfect, the more you can stop the suffering that happens when you don’t find it. Come along on this journey with me. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t easy. But down the road, you won’t regret it.