Comforting Words: Instead, Have Tea

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Instead, Have Tea

It is confession time.

I am a control-freak.

Those of you who know me well might be laughing your heads off at this time, thinking “And this, Claudette, is news?”

No it is not, however, after many years of soul searching and actually “letting go” of much of my controlling ways, I think I am finally coming to terms with my inability to run the Universe.

This reality came to me quite by chance (is there any such thing?).

As I glanced through the mail walking up the steps to our third floor apartment, a familiar blue and white envelope got my attention. It was a letter from my daughter’s college and something told me it was not good news.

This was the second piece of correspondence from the college to her in two weeks and given the conversation we had just before her move into independent living, I knew this letter held information that I did not want to hear.

Is anyone noticing the dominating pronoun of the preceding paragraph - “I?”

Barring the fact that the letter was not addressed to me or even about me, what was to stop me from opening it? Having seen enough television shows and read so many novels in my younger years about partners secretly opening their spouses’ mail, I knew how to go about doing this.

Was it an act of God that the kettle was sitting on the kitchen counter?

Reluctantly, I looked away from my would-be tool of mischief and went to my bedroom. I slowly placed the letter on my dressing table but that was only after raising it to the sun-lit window to see if it would give me even the smallest peak into its content.

Some reading this might think me delusional when I write that as I hissed my teeth and took the letter up from the dressing table, I heard that ‘still small voice’ deep in my being asking me, “Are you going to keep detouring down this road or are you ready to let everyone, including A., live her life?”

The advice to “let go,” has over the years become key in the arsenal of pop psychologists and motivational speakers. It is one that I often use; however, for me there is a deeper meaning and significance. Letting go is not synonymous with ‘no longer caring’ or ignoring a situation or a person. On the contrary, for me it means to “let be.”

Lyrics from a childhood song come to mind – Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. The future is not ours’ to see, que sera, sera. Do you know it?

The version I know was done by Doris Day and basically the mother’s response to her daughter’s questions about what the future holds for her is – “Let it Be,” which incidentally is the name of another song by Paul McCartney.

My confessing this to you today is not because I love to publicly shame or degrade myself, admitting my temptations to peek into my daughter’s mail. I share this because each of you can identify with this issue of trying to control other people’s lives, especially the ones you love the most.

What I have come to learn is that I cannot live anyone else’s story or dreams. This lesson came the hard way and after many years of self-loathing, trying to live up to my mother’s expectations or to fulfill her unmet dreams.

This ‘drama’ continued to play out in my life as I moved from relationship to relationship. It seeped into my professional life and into my interpersonal relationships. If I could not control the situation so that things worked the way I needed them to in order to fulfill my (mother’s) hopes, then I would succumb to someone else controlling my life, hoping that they would pay me back for being the good little girl.

Based on today’s almost performance, it is obvious that even after all these years of soul-searching, praying and spiritual counseling I still have work to do. My rejoicing, however, is loud this day because I caught myself, listened to what I truly believe is the Voice of Spirit and gently placed the letter in another envelope and addressed it to my daughter to be mailed on my evening walk.

The desire to control others manifests in a myriad of ways; it is a default and defensive mode that we have learnt. I invite you to unlearn it, let yourself and others ‘be’ by being sensitive to your inner voice that always, always tells you when you are not.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingUnplug the kettle or make a cup of tea instead!




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