Hi, my name is Jamie and I’m a bit of a control freak. If you know me at all, you’re probably saying to yourself, “well, duh!”This is something I’ve always known but truthfully, have treated it as a joke. In the last year, I’ve come to realize just how much I’ve let this take over my life and my relationships. I’m also being forced to learn better life habits.
This is something I’ve always known but truthfully, have treated it as a joke. In the last year, I’ve come to realize just how much I’ve let this take over my life and my relationships. I’m also being forced to learn better life habits.
I’m learning more and more how being a controlling or dominating woman is how I portray “Fallen Eve.” In the Captivating Heart curriculum, we talk about the three forms of Fallen Eve—ways that we as women live out our fall from grace and try to “make up for” our lack of intimacy with God. The three forms are Dominating Woman (controlling), Indulgent Woman, and Desolate Woman.
During the most recent Captivating Heart retreat, I spoke about how I often portray the Dominating Woman. I focused on examples related to my disability and how I relate to other people in regards to the disability.
I was taught to be independent and self-sufficient, which is a healthy thing. After all, we all need to learn that to be functional adults, right? But even good things, when taken too far or taken to an unhealthy place, can become damaging.
To me, being independent means no one can call me a burden. When I can’t do things by myself, I feel like I’m in the way. Like I’m stealing valuable space. Being told “you’re in the way,” even when the person literally means my body is in the space they need to occupy, is a deeply wounding thing to me. I’m learning more about my value to God and that is turning into realizing that most the time when people say “you’re in the way,” it simply means “please move” not “you’re a problem for me.”
I’m often told that I’m too independent, that I “never let people help me.” That statement always made me mad because I told myself that the people who say that are assuming several things. For one, they assume that what they want to do is helpful. They also assume that because I’m not asking them to help in that moment that I never ask anyone. They don’t realize that I arrange my entire life around getting the help I needed and from people I trust.
On one hand, that’s smart. I know who I can trust to be in control of what happens to me and my body. . I know who I can trust to listen to me. I’m a human being who deserves dignity and who deserves for my “no” to mean no. But on the other hand? It’s controlling.
I knew I seemed controlling and I didn’t want to be that way so for a time, I became passive aggressive about it. I realized recently that I’ve become passive in many other ways, including how I communicate with people in meetings. I don’t want to seem like the bossy woman so instead, I apologize for my thoughts.
Here’s a hint: passive aggression is just another form of controlling.
Here’s how it would play out in regards to my disability: I would just let anyone “help,” even if it was a nuisance or something I didn’t need. This pretty much set up both them and me for failure. Of course I got injured. Of course I consistently ran into situations where people would make well-meaning but ultimately condescending remarks. Of course it wasn’t helpful. I got annoyed and they aren’t allowed to be truly helpful like they wished. It was an unconscious way for me to prove that it was better if I did everything myself.
In the last year, I’ve come to realize that I don’t need to give up control of what happens to my body or give up my dignity. But I do need to give up the passive aggressive control over my communication.
What God is showing me is that by not learning how to communicate what I need, I was shutting people out. I think often times if I communicate what is helpful and what is not, it’s the best for both me and those who want to help. If there’s something I need to do alone, I am learning to communicate that effectively. If there’s something I can accept help in doing, I’m learning to communicate the best way to help. I am learning that I don’t need to be in control of all this information all the time.
In the last year, I’ve been through what feels like hell physically and emotionally. It took six doctors to figure out why I had such severely inflamed joints that I loss full use of my arms and hands. As you can imagine, this full-time wheelchair user appreciates the ability to use her hands and arms!
Now that we know why the problem happened, we are now trying to treat it. I feel completely out of control and even leery of making long-term goals. I am learning to live in the moment and accept when life doesn’t go as planned. This is both freeing and frightening all that the same time.