My controller has been confusing me lately. It isn’t unusual to be confused by the controller. They use that as a defense mechanism. They will spin you around and around to keep you from knowing the truth. But this was a bit different. My controller kept telling me I was going to miss them when they were gone. I really thought they were unsure about how this process works. In some ways, maybe they are. In my experience, parts are not sure if they will stay or go. They don’t understand they are a part of the entire system and must stay as long as the system stays. And as I work hard to bring in the influences and strengths of all parts, my controller has become more confused about their role. They have also become more threatened.
But this morning, as I was writing from the controller, I had an epiphany. They aren’t confused. They aren’t expressing their existential fear if the other parts step up to their natural roles. They were threatening me. For the past few months, I have been hearing the controller tell me how they were going away. And I have been there to reassure them they won’t go anywhere. But that wasn’t what they meant. Don’t I feel foolish. They were letting me know that if I don’t do it their way, they will be leaving. They will walk away. They will no longer help me with my life. They won’t organize. They won’t plan. They won’t keep things consistent and on time anymore. They won’t do their part. And honestly, I have seen glimpses of this in the past. There have been times where organization and motivation fell by the wayside as my controller went on strike. So this is not a one-time threat.
But controllers don’t create something out of nothing. They aren’t the creative type. They repeat what they know. Everything they say in your mind has been said to you before. I understand that you might not remember it. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t said. That’s how the controllers are so convincing. If we don’t know the source, we can’t question the credibility. So we assume we came up with it. And the controller seems to be so logical with tons of evidence. But they are repeating patterns based in fear, statements made from abusers and conclusions coming from primarily abusive experiences. And when they run our lives, we live for survival.
I don’t have to go far to see the source of my controller’s latest threats. I have spent a lifetime trying to avoid being abandoned. It has been nonstop in my life. With my parents, there was emotional abandonment. And it permeated everything. “Do that wrong and I won’t love you.” “Keep acting like that and I will pretend I don’t know you.” But physical abandonment was threatened. “Do this for me or you will be homeless.” “Tell our secrets and we will leave you on the side of the road.” To a child, this is a death threat. There is no surviving without adults. And I was convinced that no other adult would want me if my parents didn’t. So my survival skills centered around abandonment avoidance.
And when I met my would-be rescuer, it further reinforced my fears. I was so excited to have found someone who could stop the pain of my abuse. I thought he would finally take me away from my horror-filled childhood. In reality, he was a young college student who had no power over someone like my father. And he was only there for a summer. His abandonment devastated me and furthered my development of Dissociative Identity Disorder. I could not deal with the pain he left me in. There was no choice but to forget he existed.
That was a painful life sentence for my unconscious. And my unconscious would manifest all my external circumstances until I woke up. I never understood the abandonment in my adult life since I didn’t remember the horrors of my childhood. But I understand it now. I can look back and see how every relational decision I made was to avoid being left behind. I would do anything for others to like me, to respect me, to NOT leave me. But they always did. Of course they did. It was destined to be that way. Since recovery, I have worked through many layers of it. Some of the recent layers are very subtle, it takes some intense awareness to see them. But I am slowly undoing the ways abandonment impacts my choices in my life. I am calling people out on their choices to leave me (even temporarily) when they don’t like what I am doing or saying. I am choosing authenticity even if it means people might not like it. I am rewiring my brain to change how I see abandonment. It isn’t life or death for me. It is about the other person and their discomfort or need to control.
But seeing it on the inside jolted me this morning. In hindsight, maybe it shouldn’t jolt me. If it is in my external life, it is in my internal life. But it jolted me anyway. So I will work to dislodge this latest nuance of the abandonment pattern. While it seemed like the controller was using it against my grounded adult self, I am sure it was being used against my other parts. And that is not acceptable. I will no longer make my choices based on abandonment. I will not be manipulated out of my authenticity. I will not be threatened out of my integrity. My choices are mine. And I am taking them back.