Letting Go of Control
I read old writings and I see a recurring theme: control. I’ve always struggled with the plan of my life being out of my hands. I’ve always wanted to shape it with my own hands, guide the direction it moves and control the outcome. There’s nothing like knowing a life is forming within you to realize life is out of our hands. I wasn’t trying to become pregnant, it just happened. And though scary, it was this insane miracle taking place within me that kept me strong, that kept my head screwed on straight and that taught me that life is so much bigger than me. Up until the point that you become a mother, we are allowed to lead selfish lives. To think only of ourselves, of our wants, of our dreams. The gravity of becoming a provider of another life is sobering. It’s humbling. It’s liberating of the control we hold over ourselves.
From the time I was seven months pregnant to the time I moved out into my own place, I lived at home for exactly eleven months. For anyone who truly knows me, they'd know that this was extremely difficult for me to do. In fact, when I moved home from college while I looked for a job, I remember wanting to tear my hair out. And it wasn't that I didn't love my family (I have an incredible family), I just felt above living at home. I felt like it was stripping me of the independence I had worked so hard to obtain and then maintain. It sounds ridiculous, right? I was incredibly immature (understandably) but, to make matters worse in this case, I have always been immensely independent. I went off to a college where I knew no one. I traveled to Rome and Sydney and studied in programs and lived in apartments with strangers. I don't say this to tout myself as any brave or valiant independent woman, I say it to explain the intensity of my independence. I thrive in it. I pride myself in self-sustainability. It was part of my identity. I looked for that kind of challenge. I wanted to prove myself in every way, at every corner of the world, not just to my parents or to the strangers reading my resume, but to myself. I never wanted to fail, and for me, relying on anyone meant failure. It made me feel weak, childish, small.
So for almost a year I lived at home and slowly I broke down to the idea that sometimes in life we need somebody other than ourselves, our independence, our pride and our egos. Sometimes we need to break down in the presence of our family. We need to be small in the eyes of our friends. We need mentors and guidance and the humility to ask for help. And the greatest surprise I found was that in humility I found strength and wisdom and support from others to rise far higher than I could have risen on my own. What I didn't know is that my own foundation was cracking amidst that hard self-reliance and I didn't realize how brittle I was. Truly I was ready to break. Pregnancy wasn't the full load, it was just the straw that broke the camel's back. And I found myself face down, with no foundation to fall back on and no idea who I was, what brought me joy or what I stood for.
When I let my friends, my family and my God make up the foundation of my life, I found myself whole. Because I finally had a foundation to build from. I had something to fall back on. I wasn't acting out of survival mode, I was acting out of a place of love - knowing that if I failed or found my heart broken, I had people who loved me to fall back on. That's what community is. That's what humility is. And I think without it, we are nothing but brittle and ready to break.
My boss has a mantra that has stuck with me in such a profound way: hands open. What he means by this is that when our hands are open, we let go of what isn’t meant to be and we open ourselves up to receive more in its place. So often in my life I’ve kept my fists tight - wanting to hold onto what I wanted, wanting to control what was swirling in chaos around me, and not opening them up to receive so much more than I could dream of. When I find my ego getting in the way of what’s right, I open my hands. When I find myself stressed and overwhelmed, I open my hands to what could be. I literally take my open hands -palms up, put them out in front of me, breathe deep and ask for the strength to let go.
It works every time.