Control Freak

Learning to ‘go with the flow’

I am a control freak. Well I always believed I was anyway. Right up until 4 years ago when I had what I can only describe as a breakdown which subsequently led to my giving up alcohol.

My ‘breakdown’ – which was really just a build up of years of stress, over-worry, being busy busy busy, doing far too much, huge anxiety and poor coping mechanisms – meant that I had to let go of control. My brain and body formed a pow wow and said “this can’t go on, she cannot live this way a moment longer!” and bam 💥 they went into their own little lockdown. I still managed to continue to work (loosely) and also to drink (obviously) but I did very little else. I sometimes partied with friends and then consequently stayed in bed all the next day. I sometimes drank at home and then when I wasn’t drinking, I was lying in bed. I dragged myself into work and when I came home, yep, you got it, bed. Sometimes I’d sleep, often I would just lie there, staring into space, living inside my own head.

I turned from someone who had their finger on the pulse of every aspect of life to a person who really couldn’t care less. Where I once was the most organised, ‘in control’ mum, friend, daughter, sister and wife …. I became a shell. I totally disengaged from my life and my loved ones. I lost any grip I had on my children’s lives: what they needed; what they ate; what work they had; how they were feeling. I relinquished all control of household and family jobs and planning. I had gone from, not the proverbial ‘sublime’ to the ‘ridiculous’, but rather from ‘the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous’!

Eventually, and thankfully, I got well again. Slowly my mental health improved and I began to engage in life, take an interest and take back some control. I started a course of antidepressants and my life, though far from perfect, was better.

Then, around 2 years later, I got sober. Through sobriety and being able to reflect on my experiences from the breakdown, I learnt that it was OK to not always be in control. That sometimes plans didn’t always happen as they should and letting the unknown unfold could bring joy and happiness too. I realised I had so often ruined days out or family events by allowing the crushing disappointment I felt when my expectations hadn’t been met to cloud everything else. And for everyone else I might add! I began to understand that one of the reasons I drank was to help me feel less weighed down by my expectations and my need to control circumstances. Once I drank, I cared much less about the plan and if things weren’t going according to it. I could let it all go. It was a crutch for dealing with the anxiety and stress that comes with needing that level of control and perfection. Just like it was a crutch for dealing with so many other tricky feelings and emotions.

I still have a need to control and organise. I am,however, now able to take a step back and I can appreciate the calm sensation of letting go of the reins. I always thought I was naturally a ‘stressed’ person, a born ‘organisation freak’. That was my personality, it was who I was and it was set in stone. If the last four years have taught me anything it’s that that absolutely nothing in life is set in stone. We don’t have to continue to be a certain something or someone if it makes us feel unhappy or miserable. We can learn to function another way and ‘going with the flow’, finding positives in the unexpected and embracing a feeling of calm is who I want to be and what I want to do.

Looking back, my advice now would be to listen and pay attention to the things your body and brain are trying to telling you. There are no bonus points for being so busy you are about to break. Feeling frazzled all the time is no fun at all. Worrying excessively and trying to control for every eventuality does not mean the worst won’t happen. An outing can be just as fun if it doesn’t quite follow your agenda. It is absolutely fine to let your children eat nuggets and chips for yet another night because you are exhausted. Take that bath, give them beans on toast for tea and if their school clothes are creased … so what! If the birthday cake is shop bought and not home made … good for you! Let go of perfect, ‘good enough’ is great. I know it’s easy to say and not so easy to action, but I tell you this: the impact on your life by continuing to live this way can be devastating. Don’t take the risk. Don’t make the same mistakes as I did. Let it go!

Claire x


21 thoughts on “Control Freak”

  1. this is so true and i cannot begin to tell you how long it took me to realize it fully. Sure, i would go into phases of not caring ( even when i didn’t drink) but soon i was back of the busy bus, grinding away at nonsense. Of course at the time, it didn’t SEEM like nonsense. It is only in hind sight that i can see how much of it really mattered . Great post! hope you are well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why do we do it to ourselves!? It takes me a lot of self awareness to notice it’s happening and strength to stop myself. Im getting better at it but you are right, we often see it in hindsight. I’m doing ok. How are you? Xxx

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  2. It’s interesting that we can only see clearly what was wrong in hindsight. I had a year like that as well and just kept slogging along, not realizing that it simply was not sustainable. I guess hindsight is better than no sight, because at least then we can share our gained insight with others. Hugs to you. Xx

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    1. Oh it’s still a work in progress and is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. But I have realised, because I had no choice, that life doesn’t fall apart if you loosen your grip just a little. In fact, it can be even better in some ways. It isn’t comfortable though, but it is worth trying. Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello you! I can so relate to this post, especially last night! I worked all day and then my youngest had an orthodontist appointment so we went to that as soon as I got home. She’s learning to drive so after that appointment we parallel parked and such. Then home. That puts us at 6:30pm. Then I cooked bacon and made BLT’s. Sat down and ate and watched a game show with hubby. Then I turned around so tired and looked at my kitchen. I decided to shower. Then came back out and started turning over the dishwasher, food prepping for today and such like that. Then turned on the dishwasher and it started leaking underneath on Igor a dish under the leak and out a towel down…..anyway, turned into a longer night that I wanted. I went to bed and read your log and immediately connected to it. I started to write back to ya but I got sleepy. So here I am this morning! I still really need to work better on letting more things go. The dishwasher my kids could have done today, they are home today. I sure did sleep well though! Today is another repeat of an appointment after work and then a stop at my mother in laws to help her for a bit. Going to do something super easy for dinner and let that kitchen gooooo. I’ve also realized my correlation of stress and alcohol. As you mentioned I use it to calm me down, de stress. However, it’s not even distressing me. It’s actually making me more stressed as if I have alcohol I don’t make good choices between getting things done what to let go. I basically get nothing done. So anyway thank you so much for posting this! I sure hope you have a fantastic day! I sure will thinking of you! 😘😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Pss-I wish you could correct spelling once you post on here. Just re-read what I wrote and I meant to say when the dishwasher started to leak I put a dish under the leak…no idea where “on Igor a dish” came from. 😆

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be really difficult to find that balance right? Especially when we are all or nothing people. You are so right about alcohol … I can’t count how many parties I organised, stressed my head off, then drank too much and didn’t get food out etc etc. Then just felt terrible about it all when I was sober. Ridiculous!! I think I make other people feel uncomfortable with my need to control and ‘do’ it all as well. That’s not a nice feeling at all. Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YES to all of this! WAY too many times hosting things only to be stressed out and not enjoy it! COVID made me really haul back as nothing was going on and I realized I was actually fully enjoying myself with less on my plate. ( or less I put on my own plate ) Crazy!


  4. Amazing post, Claire. I think so many of us can really relate to this. That need to be in control is so exhausting. Finding a way to let go without booze is so great. I’m so happy for you!! ❤️🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So lovely to hear from you leafy. I’ve enjoyed being back on here, reconnecting with some older folk and some newbies. I forgot how supportive it is! Hope you are ok xx 😘

      Liked by 1 person

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