Search This Blog

Showing posts with label #CSA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #CSA. Show all posts

Friday, May 21, 2021

Controlling your life starts with controlling you

You know sometimes you start a blog post about an idea that hits you that you can relate to and before you know it, it becomes deeply personal to the point of being a little vulnerable.  But, here goes.  As a CSA (childhood sexual abuse) survivor who was raised in a dysfunctional home with alcoholism and domestic violence, I became aware at a young age of idea of powerlessness and the idea of having any control over anything was ridiculous to me.   Add to that the fact that our house looked run down and just not generally presentable, that I wore worn clothes to school, that I was bullied and that I never felt like I fit in and then you can see even more clearly why I would feel that way.

Had someone said control starts with you, I would have laughed at them.  The idea of 'being in control' would have sounded utterly absurd to me.   As previously mentioned, I didn't have control over what I could wear or what eat, the home in which I live in and its state of repair or disrepair.   In my house, I didn't have control over the dysfunction--the yelling, the screaming, in some cases the domestic violence.  On my person, I didn't have control over the sexual abuse that happened to me and the bullying in the neighborhood and at school.   So, to me the idea to me that I controlled anything would have met with like a "yeah, right" type stare.  Before I go on, I just want to state that I'm not focused on what I "didn't have" but am setting up a point.   I do realize that I am still fortunate in some ways living in the wealthiest country in the world.   But, I digress.  I didn't realize it then, but I realize these days that in some ways I had much more control than I understood. 

Let's move forward into my adulthood.   I was always the 'peacemaker' which in some ways is another way of saying "approval seeker" or "people pleaser".   I had started that role in my childhood and played that role in my adult life too.  It didn't help that I developed a moderate to severe anxiety condition as a 17 year old and as such sought calm as a result.  In any case,  this desire for approval (or better yet to not be disliked) led me to not properly stand up for myself.   I didn't stand up for myself as a kid and as a young adult I continued this pattern.  In some ways, I let those closest to me continued to control me by using my need for approval and my need not to be disliked or unwanted.   So, in some ways to me it felt like a progression from my childhood with the manipulation and being controlled that was part of needing acceptance.

--

Despite having the sense of 'powerlessness' in my early years and my earlier adulthood,  I believe I gradually have awakened to a different view or perspective of control (or power).  I used to be view power or control as:

  • Something that is given or allowed.  
  • Something we have to grab aggressively to gain.
  • Necessarily involve or interact with that which is outside out.
I've seen the results of a child who had everything taken from him.  This child ended up being a bully.  He felt like he needed to try to control others to gain control himself.  Instead of realizing that he was just a kid and as such his authority was limited, he felt like he needed be pushy with adults to get his way and he needed to demand that he get to do what or get he wanted when he wanted.   When he felt his 'authority' being challenged he would get belligerent.  When he felt like what he had was at risk, even if that wasn't the case, he felt the need to make proactive threats.  In short, he was relying on trying to control others, being aggressive to get and 'keep' power, and blatantly involving outside forces.  As you might imagine this didn't work out well for him.   If anything he pushed others away, he tended to not get what he wanted in the long run and in many ways lost some of the control or power he had had.  In short, he represented the downfall of viewing power the way I had.


As I've grown and matured, I've come to realize that power or control can be:
  • That which we can implicitly gain or earn.
  • That which we can find within ourselves.
  • It isn't necessarily something we are given or allowed, but what we own.

As a teen, when my parents divorced, I was my dad's helper.  He wasn't very good at the 'bachelor' thing.  I had somewhat taken over cooking near the end of my parent's marriage as my mom spent a lot of time out trying to escape her unhappiness.  My dad noted this and when they got divorced, I had 'earned' the role of cooking and shopping.  For someone who didn't feel like he had any control that is pretty significant.  I had gained my dad's trust in 'taking care of' the house in some ways.

While I've had to push back on family and friends who I felt took me for granted or in some cases took advantage and had to assert control.  I've come to realize that control also comes is not necessarily asserting power externally.  For this young person I'd met, he often didn't think his behaviors through.  He was captive to his emotions.  In other words, he wasn't even in control of himself.   Often times, control is as simple as making a decision not to let your emotions rule and ruin your day as well as cause conflict.  In other words, control in your life is to put yourself in the best position to succeed.  When I trained over the summer running during high school, I exhibited control.  Running was never easy, especially by myself.  But, in order to perform well, I would have to do that which was not comfortable.  In a sense, I made a conscience decision to control my actions and in the process exert control over my own future (performance).  In short, control here is a conscience decision to what I needed to and try to avoid doing things which were harmful to me.

When my daughter's mom was pregnant with her, often I didn't feel like I was given the respect or taken as seriously as I should have been.  I had wondered exactly how I would the "parenting authority".  In time, I came to realize it does not have to be something that I would given.  Such as voters give to the winning candidate for public office.  Nor does it have to be something allowed, like my parents letting me hang out with my friends.  What I realized in time was this little person, my infant daughter was learning something profound.  In her own infant (and then toddler way), she sensed that her parents were taking care of her, were meeting her needs,  we being supportive of her.   We didn't really ask for permission so much as we accepted the role of parents.   We owned our responsibility.  In her own way our baby/infant daughter had learned that she should mind us as she 'knew' that we were there to meet her needs.  So, we owned the role and therefore the power or authority that comes with it. 

--

So, what is my takeaways?
  • When someone in your life tries to control you, to a large degree the control over you is what you allow or tolerate from them.
  • Control doesn't need to be something achieved via threats over others.  It is best achieved or earned by doing the right things for the right reason and therefore gaining authority or power with that role. 
  • You can't control how people treat you, but you can control your response.  You can influence your outcomes positively with control of yourself.

Anyway, just another perspective on control when others in position of power raise endless sum of money trying to essentially 'buy' it.   In many regards we are more free than those who seek to gain power.  

Thanks for reading and I hope you took something from it.

Sincerely,
Rich