Got Called Out By My Husband for Trying To Control EVERYTHING

being present right side of 50 self-care Aug 30, 2023
We cannot control everything after 50

Life has been a bit nuts during the past 3-4 weeks.    

Although this is fairly typical for me in August, it seems a bit worse this summer.

We are on the last legs of our beach home being built.   We are six hours away and have made multiple trips down there and back to check on things and make sure that we know what's happening.   My parents are with us for the summer and are very independent but also very present.  My mother-in-law lives with us full time and has not been well.   We did our lake week with the kids and grands at the beginning of the month.   One of my sons is out of the country for work which is a stressor for me just because I worry.   

Barring my mother in law not being well, all of this "stuff" and these stressors are good things.

But, they are stressors, nonetheless.

I am a person who really loves my time at home and who also values and craves alone time.

I've had neither for the past few months and it's going to be a while before life settles down.  

And, if I'm being honest, I haven't been super self-aware or present for the past few weeks.  I've been worried.   Anxious.   Distracted.   

And being present and self-aware go hand in hand.

It All Came to a Head Yesterday - A Morning in My Life

Do you ever have those days when seemingly minor things are getting to you?   

I woke up yesterday morning and realized that I hadn't run the dishwasher the night before.   And we had dishes in the sink that needed to go in in the morning after I emptied it.   So, I had to run it and leave the dishes sitting in the sink.

I started the dishwasher and went in to tell my mother in law NOT to do the dishes in the sink because I was worried about her - she's been unsteady and using her walker and cane to get around.   

I came back from my walk and my mother-in-law met me in the kitchen explaining to me why she had to do the dishes.   It became a "discussion" ending with her walking back into her room to wait for the dishwasher to finish running and me to put the remaining dishes in. 

I texted my husband to tell him what was going on.

Dishwasher finished, I emptied and loaded and then told my mother-in-law the kitchen was hers.    She came in and got some coffee grounds to put into the plants outside.   But, since she can't walk up and down the deck stairs, she tossed the coffee grounds into the plants from the deck.    Some went into the plants.   Some went all over the deck.

I went out, rinsed the deck off with water, and again, texted my husband to fill him in on what was going on.  

Truth be told, I had texted him A LOT while he was on his morning walk.

He returned from his walk and was "off."   I assumed he was annoyed because of my psycho texting.    Which would have been understandable.

But, when I asked him what was going on, he explained that he was concerned.  About me.  That we had a lot going on in our lives right now and that I constantly had people needing things from me.   He went on to say that most of the things that were going on were things that I had very little control over.

And then he added the zinger.....that I was trying to micromanage and steer everything and everyone into the direction I thought they should go.  That I was trying to control everything.

Wait, what????

He continued so say that I was getting immersed in and stressed out by unimportant details.   Things that normally wouldn't be an issue for me.   Like the dishwasher and the dishes - which had been a huge focus for me that morning.  

One might argue an abnormally huge focus.

As he talked, I listened and considered.  I realized that I hadn't been present at all since we'd gotten back from the lake.   That I'd been caught up in worries and crappy thoughts.

Additionally, I took a second and considered how much stress he'd been under, as well.  And he is still working on top of everything else we have going on.   

As I sat and was present and really thought about what he was saying and all that had been going on, I began to cry.  I was overwhelmed and just needed to cry.  I felt anxious still, but a little bit better.

I had a work appointment and then was joining my daughter in law and grandsons for Taco Tuesday dinner at their house.   I can honestly say I was more present for those events than I had been since we left the lake weeks earlier.

I woke up this morning feeling amazing.  The stressors were all still there.   But, my ability to be present and self-aware, thanks to my husband, helped me with my attitude adjustment.

Which was a great thing, because on tap this morning was taking my mom to the eye doctor.  So, a good attitude was in order.

The Need for Control of Even the Small Things is Not a New Thing

I've been doing this my whole life.    Because, you see, if I can control things then I know exactly how a situation will end up.   Not knowing how something is going to transpire feeds into my core belief that the world is unsafe.   If I know and can control exactly what will happen, then my world becomes safe. 

It becomes predictable.

But, it becomes problematic when this need to control feeds into situations that are minor in the scheme of things. 

When the need to control results in me micromanaging everyone and everything.

After all this happened yesterday morning, I was at the playground with my daughter in law and the other neighborhood moms while the kids played.   The moms got into a discussion about dishwasher loading (funnily enough!) and who does the better job at it - them or their husbands.   A couple of the moms were very heated about the fact that their husband could NOT load a dishwasher.   To the point where if he tried, they would hop in and take over or redo it after he was done.

I listened and smiled and shook my head internally.   I wanted to tell them to let it go.    That it doesn't matter at the end of the day how your husband loads the dishwasher.  That they loved their husband and he loved them and that he was helping.   That that's what mattered!

But, I didn't.   Because I wouldn't have been ready to hear it when I was where they are in life.   And because it wasn't my place.

The Side Effects of My Need to Control 

It Wreaks Havoc on My Anxiety

I have battled anxiety throughout my entire life.  Taking action to try to control everything and everyone around me does nothing but feed into that anxiety.  To the point where it can make me sick!  When you think you can control and try to control everything, your mind and body are in a constant fight or flight mode.  This is exactly what was happening to me until my husband pointed it out.

It's an awful unhealthy way to live each day.

It is the opposite of being present.

It Affects My Loved Ones

Those who live with me can feel are likely witnessing and experiencing that stress which, in turn, can create stress and anxiety for them.   

Not to mention that it can be super annoying for those who are the recipient of my maneuvering and controlling.  I can get on their nerves!

I hear from women who have actually estranged family members because the control has become toxic.

It Can Prevent Positive Change from Happening

Our brains are designed to keep us safe.   Anything that is a change from our normal routine or status quo equals unsafe in our brains.

So, when we encounter new situations over which we have very little control, we become anxious.   We have the need to stop or change things.

We have the need to control.

And there are times where we just need to take a breath, accept that this new thing is different but will be fine, accept that we don't need to control it, and sit back and let it happen.

Allow ourselves to be a bit uncomfortable while it's going on.

But know, ultimately, that we will be okay.

My Plan Moving Forward

  1. To continue my practice of being present each and every day.   When I don't do this, anxiety and the need to control take over.
  2. To accept and be aware of negative feelings that may arise depending on a particular situation.   I know that I can't always feel positive about every single thing that's happening in my world each day.
  3. To share with my husband when I am anxious and overwhelmed rather than to swing into control mode.   

I have always found throughout my life that sharing my feelings of anxiety with others, whether it's a loved one or a mental health professional takes away its power. 

I'd love to hear from any of you for whom this resonated.   How does the need for control affect you in your daily life?   Do you see it in small, seemingly insignificant situations that occur?