My Name is Stephanie And I’m a Control Freak.

I wake up in the morning and open my notebook to a new page. Being left-handed, I write on the right side of the page. Always on the right-hand side.

I always use a blue pen for this particular notebook. Never any other colour. Continuity is important for me.

I write out my list for the day: 1) Brush teeth 2) Shower 3) Have breakfast 4) Pick up mail from PO box 5) Work on blog post 6) Film/shoot content 7) Take out trash 8) Attend XXX meeting 9) Mop floor 10) Try on clothes 11) Do laundry 12) Eat muffin 13) Watch Game of Thrones 14) Call parents 15) Call brother 16)Take out trash 17) Go to the park 18) Finish reading 2 chapters of book 19) Drink water 20) Light candles 21) Cook dinner 22)Upload IG posts.

That’s the routine, every day without fail. Throughout the day, I cross off my errands with delight as I complete yet another task. I open up my Google Drive and write my articles. My Google Drive is overrun with spreadsheets, lists, links and notes – mostly for things that haven’t happened yet. Wedding vows. Wedding favours. Obituaries for family members. The kind of casket I’d want to be buried in. Lists of what I’d need to do when a loved one dies, my will, lists of countries I’d like to visit and bullet points of things to do in each country, links to baby/pregnancy things I may need in future, lists of brands to work with in other countries, everything.

Outside of my two amazing managers, I do all my work admin myself. I’m long overdue for help actually, as I have a *bulk* of things that I could use help with but I have always refused to hire an assistant. The poor soul would be micromanaged within an inch of their lives and would probably quit after the first week or so. I know my weaknesses and would never want to subject anyone to the level of nitpicking that I would be undertaking. I’ve always been very bad at trusting people to execute things for me in the exact way I would want them done. That, and I’ve just always been very bad at trusting, full stop.

I’m Steph, and I’ve recently learned that I’m a bit of a control freak.

Due to my somewhat calm, cool and carefree demeanour, I’ve always seen myself as someone quite spontaneous, easy-going and fluid, but a couple of years of therapy have revealed the very opposite to be true, and it’s something I’ve been trying to work through every day, with great difficulty. I’ve acknowledged that I have a huge thing about needing to be in control of everything at all times, and (one of) my greatest fears is not being able to deal with things out of my control. I get anxious when I don’t know what’s going to happen (unless it’s a good or exciting surprise of course). I have impossibly high standards. I have trouble trusting others. I like to know what, when and where something is going to happen, and I bitch over the most insignificant of details.

Being in control is one of the things that I believe makes me incredible reliable and resilient. Upon speaking with my therapist, I’ve been able to trace this attribute back to my childhood, a manifestation of several traumas that eventually led to me being incredibly hyper-independent and self-reliant. On top of that, I spent a large degree of my childhood and early adult life alone, so of course, it stands to reason that at some point, I eventually learned how to do everything on my own without the help of others.

Once upon a time on this blog, I would have gone into all the specific ways my trauma(s) impacted my need for control, detailing every event to the last action, but as some of you who are regular readers may have noticed of late, I try not to be as vulnerable on here anymore due to prying eyes who do not wish me well and who take delight in any mishaps, failures or negative events that either come my way or that I admit of my own volition.

So with that being said, I guess I’ll instead go into the ways I’m trying to recognise and fix this control issue. It’s no easy feat because I actually like having control. It makes me feel good to plan things out in advance. I sleep better knowing that I’ve completed all my tasks. I feel calm knowing that I’m super organised and that I have a Plan B and C for nearly every single event.

I am aware that I cannot control everything, but I can control a hell of a lot of things and that alone makes me happy! Recently though, I’ve been forced to confront this attribute of mine due to it impacting loved ones and so part of my learning process has been trying to ascertain why I like to control things. Controlling things makes me feel safe. As a child, I experienced a lot of…random, unexpected events that were in and of themselves life-changing, and since then stability is something I have already set out to achieve.

So! The first thing is acknowledging (which I’m doing now) and accepting that I cannot control everything. This has been the hardest part for me because unfortunately, I still have this delusional part of me that assumes I can control my emotions, what I do, where I go, what I think and how I act if something unexpected comes. And I’m delusional in that thinking because of my previous track record of always being on top of things and figuring out things in a crisis.

But yes. acceptance has to come first, and it’s something I still work on. My therapist also mentions the prospect of opening up myself to learn how to trust others again, to which I told her “that’s 100% out of the question for the foreseeable future” lmao (I’m so annoying). People have to prove that they can be trusted before I can trust them and I realise how arrogant that sounds, but…them’s the breaks!

The third thing I’m learning how to do is to be flexible and acknowledge that there is more than one way to do things. There’s more than one way to write, more than one way to work, more than one way to live etc. At the same time, I’m learning how to focus on solving my own problems instead of trying to solve everyone else’s as it usually causes more stress than its worth.

Most of all, I’m trying to practice being patient with myself and giving myself grace. Change is a long process, and I know that I’m asking a lot from myself to relax a bit more. I’ll get there someday, hopefully. It’s 3:30 AM as I write this, so the grammar and syntax may not be syntaxing as they should be, but we move.

Can anyone else relate, or do you have any tips on how you worked on controlling your control issues? Give a girl some tips!

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