Present Tense

Breaking up is hard to do……

A friend of mine posted an old proverb on her Facebook page that said, “habits are at first cobwebs, then cables”.  Boy, ain’t that the truth!  And for many of us, they morph from cobwebs, to cables, to chains, to cages!

I’ve been working on trying to break some unhealthy habits for the better part of a year and the analogy of the proverb is accurate.  They start out innocently enough, perhaps from some catalyst in your life that requires action. In many cases these habits or behaviors start out as productive and protective, but over the years, they fossilize into something that is hard, crusty and paralyzing.

For me, it’s control of well… everything.  I had slowly taken over the majority of responsibilities in our household, based mostly on the belief that ‘it’s easier to do it yourself’.  Sound familiar?  This is of course, in addition to being a control freak about my job as a radio host.  It got to the point where I felt completely overwhelmed, confused and downright panicky.  I was seriously thinking of walking away from my career, my marriage was rocky and my own personal substance abuse problem was rearing it’s ugly head…again.  Drunk, panicky and miserable is not a good place to be.  And it most certainly doesn’t allow for a proactive approach to what’s bugging you.

So, first habit to go:  Alcohol.  Which is kind of interesting, because I’ve found that addictions can sometimes be easier to kick, than something that is merely a bad habit.  I can’t gradually stop drinking; it has to be cold turkey.  I can’t have one or two drinks like most people and so when the booze goes, it GOES.  I’m not saying it’s easy and I’m most certainly not saying that it won’t come back to haunt me sometime in the future, but having to give something up completely can actually be easier than making other behavioral alterations.  I should know; I’ve done it several times.  (Fingers crossed)

However, with the whole control thing, I’ve had to pick and choose what to completely let go of and so, that old habit doesn’t die, it’s merely suppressed or lessened.  Which means that you are still sort of in control of some things and not others and those boundaries sometimes blur and you’re right back in the driver’s seat, clutching the steering wheel AGAIN!  Without help and vigilance, you can fall right back into the chains of that habit.

If you dig a little bit, being a control freak is really about trust.  Oh, here we go: trust issues, right?  Jane is learning “therapy-speak”.  Actually, I figured this one out for myself after a great deal of introspection and all of that good stuff.  Having to maintain complete control of your little bubble on earth, is really about not trusting anyone else to be able to meet your very high standards.  Control freaks secretly, or not-so-secretly, believe that we’re smarter than everyone around us.  Only WE could possibly juggle all of these responsibilities;  anyone else would screw everything up!  So, at a certain point you have to ask yourself, “why the hell did I surround myself with such incompetents”???????  Or, you ask yourself a more healthy question:  “what the hell am I doing?  I’m panicked, overwhelmed, miserable to be around and I’m screwing everything up.”  At that point, you might want to delegate some of your extremely important duties (like balancing the checkbook, grocery shopping, and changing the sheets) to someone else.

As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, I’ve been reading quite a bit about Buddhism and have been incorporating meditation into my daily life. What I’ve found appealing is they are both about ‘letting go’; of control, craving, anger, frustration, bitterness, striving.  I’ve begun to realize that I can only live effectively in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.  Life is temporary and constantly changing and evolving.  Struggling to somehow control the infinite variables that influence and affect our lives is futile and causes a great deal of distress.  The more we try and control and influence, the more unhappy and ineffective we become. Think it over; see if you can’t find examples in your own life, where it might be better to just quit grasping, clinging, shoving; let it go, let it play out, don’t try and influence.

Here is something that I learned in swim class as a kid.  We were told that the worst thing to do if you find yourself in water that’s over your head, is to panic.  Don’t struggle; relax and you’ll float to the surface, where you can breathe and begin to swim to safety.

Let’s try it.  Next time, we’re struggling to influence or move or control a situation to suit our needs, stop; just float.

April 17, 2010 - Posted by | Musings | , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Thanks Jane!! This is very insightful and helpful where I am right now in life. Keep up the good work! =)

    Comment by Melissa | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. Love this Jane. I do fear that you are hardest on yourself my friend. I also feel the need to lay my stolen Journey motto on you, have used it numerous times on my kids, “Be Good to Yourself, nobody else will.”

    I am somewhat of a control freak myself, and I do think that I should try meditation and “floating”, thanks for the advice!

    Comment by Karla | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. You picked up that ball and ran with it baby. Love the floating analogy. I always feel so much more normal after reading your blogs!

    Comment by Margie | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  4. I love the proverb, had never come across that one before and as you say, so true! Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Imasink | April 18, 2010 | Reply

  5. Thank you for opening up and sharing this. Very courageous. I’ve been swimming (both figuratively and literally) many times. I’ve been in open, ocean water (both figuratively and literally) and been in those situations where you are about to panic. I too decided to float and it worked. It always works.

    Remember…hope floats. Fear drowns.

    Comment by Dustie | April 18, 2010 | Reply

  6. Nicely said Jane. I do the exact same things and find floating hard to accept many times. Being a control freak snowballs easily- the more you do it, the more addictive it gets. But as hard as I sometimes fight my control (and trust, I suppose) issues, they manage to always sneak back into my routines.

    And speaking of cool quotes, here is one of my favorites- ‘nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.’ Camus.

    Comment by Andra | May 6, 2010 | Reply

  7. Hi Jane,

    I frequently quote Dr. Evil “Why must I be surrounded by friggin idiots?” or something like that. I love reading your posts and hadn’t for a while. I always shed a tear. I think it takes a lot to write about what you go through and I can relate to it. Thanks for posting! I’ll be listening to you on Monday.

    P.S. I have been thinking about what you said on the show the other day “Everybody hates everybody! Men and women hate each other, the Republicans and Democrats hate each other!” and you gave other great examples. I about fell over in the bathroom getting ready!

    Comment by Andrea Hawkins | May 15, 2010 | Reply

  8. Hi Jane,

    I usually listen you program in MIX100 every day via web.
    It’s really nice, and the best radio program I know…

    Regards from Brazil!

    Comment by Renan | May 17, 2010 | Reply


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