The control freak

For as long as I can remember, I’ve controlled my life and what happens to it. Anytime I’ve met with any disappointment, it has been temporary. If I had bad grades one semester, I’d make up for them in the next. I never let control slip. Anytime I felt that I was losing control, I would get back in gear and fix many things in life almost retrospectively.

So you can imagine what happens to someone like me when we start to be on our own and life is just being life. I lost my mind trying to fix these things but of course I couldn’t.

The problem with succumbing to control strategies is that they’re never guaranteed. They may work great for one situation but terrible for another. They almost never are universally applicable to every situation. They also don’t help us feeling at ease with the disarray that life itself is. They induce fear of that which can’t be predicted and hence, induce fear of life.

But is control and predictability a learned response? Likely. It’s a lot of conditioning. It’s a lot of how people condition us over the years. It’s how failing at something is considered so abominable. But is failure preventable? Also, is what we perceive as failure always that? Isn’t it sometimes life just being life and being its unpredictable self?

Women are taught to take charge of everything in their life. From their education to housework to marriage to kids and then their grandkids. They are taught to monitor and work everything a certain way. There isn’t any room for slip ups. You can’t mess up. Because the tiniest drift from how life should turn out leads to shaming.

Any time a child doesn’t do great in school, people which includes the father, ask the mother. Hasn’t she been paying attention? Does she remember off the top of her head what grade he had in math last year? So it wasn’t good? Then why didn’t she ask for more support this year? She goes to all the meetings and conferences. Why didn’t she bring it up? She could’ve changed it. She could’ve made him a math whiz even though simple subtraction is so hard for him. But if she had just tried harder, worked more, paid attention more, it could all have been completely different.

Anytime a meal isn’t cooked to perfection she is asked why. Is that an easy answer? No. Then why isn’t the pot roast acting like it’s supposed to and like it has for the last ten years? Did she mess with the recipe? Did she turn up the heat for too long? Is she using a new slow cooker? She is probably getting old if cooking skills are slacking. Can she ask her friend what might have gone wrong? Yes that same friend who borrowed the pot roast recipe from her.

Marriage is entirely a woman’s responsibility. If the marriage sucks, it’s because she sucks. If the marriage fails, it was likely because something was left too late and couldn’t be fixed. There was that window of fixing that she missed again. Hasn’t she been giving enough sex? Hasn’t she been cooking? Hasn’t she been taking care of the house? She knew he didn’t like it when she went out with her friends once a month. Why didn’t she cut back on it? It was all preventable. She just didn’t make the preventable happen.

So here’s the question! Why is one person responsible for so much? How is it even possible to maintain discipline that demands your soul? Why is none of it delegated? Where’s everyone else in this? Why, when years of the mantra ” I can fix anything” messes with our brains, we are called control freaks? That’s not a nice word for someone who spends most awake hours planning meals and play dates and meeting work deadlines and getting pregnant and having families over for dinner and trying to work it all. That’s not nice because it’s inhuman to expect someone to exchange their soul to have a little recognition. It’s inhuman to hold one person responsible for how marriages and school reports and thanksgiving dinners work out. It’s not human. And since it’s not human, we don’t see a human at the end of it. What we see at the end is a ball of nerves, trying to create forty-eight out of twenty-four hours. A force of nature that doesn’t know the ethicality of anything and the utility of everything. She knows that she will have to push through life, people and her own self to save the day. And she has to do it fast and she has to do it better than she did it a week ago.

Give women some grace. We are messing with their heads.