A couple of nights ago I had a dream about something bad happening, but when I tried to scream, nothing came out of my mouth. I’ve had similar dreams before where I was helpless and couldn’t even notify anyone that there was a problem. The next morning I told my husband about the dream; he immediately said, “You don’t like to lose control. In the dream, you can’t scream, so you have no control.” I thought about that and knew that he was right. I like to be in control; I don’t like situations where I can’t control what is happening. Well, the reality is, in life we can’t truly control all that is happening to us and, one of the insights I’ve gained in recent years, is that I’m much more able to accept that occasional loss of control now than I was in my younger years. In the past, I freaked out when events happened that I could not control. My temper would flare, I would become exasperated. Now, usually, I am better able to handle those types of unplanned events. I have more patience, more understanding.
As an example, yesterday my husband and kids spent the day putting up our 12-foot tall artificial Christmas tree. Because of our holiday schedule this year, we decided to put the big tree up before Thanksgiving and then I will do the rest of the decorating after Thanksgiving. The kids had the lights on and about three-fourths of our massive amount of decorations on when the tree started to tilt and would have fallen completely were it not for my niece and future daughter-in-law catching it mid-fall. With the two of them holding it up, my husband and I worked for an hour trying to stabilize the base. The end result was that, after eleven years of use, the welding on the base is tired out and needs to be reinforced – something we’re not prepared to do. So, we began un-decorating the tree. All of the ornaments were taken off and laid on the couch, the light strings were removed and wound back up and the pieces of the tree were put out on the front porch with the hope that some Craig’s List reader will come to take it away to a new home. Today I will go purchase a new tree.
Throughout the ordeal last night I remained relatively calm. When it became apparent that we would not be able to fix the tree, I simply stated what needed to be done – “Take the tree down.” As I was going through the process, my husband’s comment about me not liking to be out of control rolled around in my head and I realized that, in maturing, I have learned (most of the time, anyway) that even in a situation I can’t control (a broken tree base), I can still be in control of my response. For a controlling personality like mine, it truly does feel much better to be personally in control during an uncontrollable situation, rather than letting go of all control.