Control

I had big plans for my fall break.  I was going to clean my house, get caught up on my to-do list for school, and take a trip with Alex.  Instead, I got sick.  The trip with Alex is still happening, but everything else has shifted into slow motion.  Yes, I have muddled my way through some household chores and crossed off things on my school to-do list, but for the most part I have lazed around the house, watched t.v., surfed the internet, and thrown myself a pity party.  While most of those activities would warrant envy from me on a typical busy day, the reality is that I have a really hard time sitting still.  If I am not engaged in something either socially fun or personally productive, I go stir crazy.

Which makes me wonder, why is it so hard to sit still?  Why do I feel like I always have to be accomplishing something?  Why does “relaxing” not feel like an accomplishment in itself?

Even sitting here now, writing this all down, makes me feel stressed out.  My house, while orderly, is far from clean and is definitely disorganized in places.  Just going out to the backyard with the dog to pick the last of summer’s tomatoes made my anxiety levels rise as I looked around and saw how much work I could be doing out there.  Sitting on the couch now, the disarray of dvds in our entertainment center is making me desperately want to go straighten them out and then dust the entire house…

Earlier, when talking on the phone with my mom, she made the astute observation that maybe I need to become more comfortable with not always having complete control over my classroom.  I know she’s right.  I also know that this connects to my obsession with having a clean house.  Cleaning is something I can control, so a messy house negates this sense of control.  Likewise, being sick pisses me off because I do not feel like I’m in control of my own body.

Now, I’m laughing to myself, because I’ve created an entry that makes me sound like a control freak, but I know that I’m not alone.  I also know that I have gotten better at letting go of some control in my life.  For example, living with Alex has taught me to let some things go, like learning generally not to let the garage and backyard bother me when they’re not as orderly as I’d like.  I have also learned to pick my battles, which is further testament to the fact that I’m not actually a control freak, (or at least not an out-of-control one!).  Moreover, I have to let some things go in order to leave my classroom at a godly hour, otherwise I’d be straightening desks and cleaning surfaces until I was the last teacher left at school!

So, now, I wonder to what degree the desire for control is a bad thing and to what degree it serves a purpose.  It seems like many accomplishments in life are fueled by the self-discipline that accompanies the desire for control.  Likewise, I derive a sense of happiness, superficial or not, from checking items off my list and putting my life into an ordered state.  Even so, I agree with my mom that I need to learn to let go of control more often and become more comfortable in this space.

Accordingly, I am now sitting here trying to embrace being sick.  I am trying to allow myself the space to do nothing, which is terribly difficult for me.

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