Dorothy: I just have to take it one day at a time.
Rose: Of course you do! If you take them two at a time, you’d be constantly changing your underwear. (Quote from an episode of The Golden Girls where Dorothy seeks treatment for a gambling problem)
I would like to consider myself a faithful 12 stepper, but honestly, there are times when I want to throw “one day at a time” out of the window. I hate uncertainty. I’m not sure if there is anyone who really likes it, but there are people that embrace living in the moment, looking at life as an exciting adventure; not knowing what’s going to happen from one moment to the next. But I have to admit…I strongly dislike living that way.
My hatred of uncertainty often leads me to NOT live in the moment. I worry about what’s going to happen in the next hour, day, week, year, 10 years! I know I have learned much of this from my mom. I often joke with her because she is usually planning (or worrying about) what she is having for dinner before she has finished breakfast!
Some people have the gift of planning and preparation and of course there is nothing wrong with this. But I think my disdain for uncertainty goes beyond preparedness. I want to control future pain. Or better yet, I want to control the level, the intensity, or I want to completely avoid possible future pain.
Sounds a little crazy right? Worrying about and wanting to control the outcome of something that may or may not happen? It usually makes me crazy.
As with many of my issues, I have to travel back to my childhood to understand. Uncertainty was my enemy as a child. Not knowing what was going to happen from one day to the next was the norm in my house. There were times that things would be going nice and calm and then out of nowhere we would get a call that my dad had been found drunk and passed out somewhere. My mom and I never knew what was going to happen from one day to the next because of my dad’s drinking. It wasn’t always about dad, but there always seemed to be some kind of drama that would unexpectedly show its ugly head.
Uncertainty of course is a part of life; however, as a child, it is difficult to process. The only thing I knew was that one day, I would get “control” of uncertainty. I would eventually learn how to control the outcome of things that happened in my life.
I had never thought of myself as a controlling person prior to entering recovery from codependency. When I found out that “control” was one of the patterns/characteristics of codependency, I said to myself, “now that’s one problem I don’t have!” But as time went on, I realized my control issues centered more on controlling situations, outcomes, and feelings more than actually controlling others. This desperate need to control what is going to happen…or what could possibly happen…or what I may possibly feel because of what could possibly happen…blocks me from living one day at a time.
I have read on more than one occasion that “control is an illusion.”
Even when we think we have control, we really don’t. The truth is that our Higher Power is in control. The only thing we can really do is trust that all is well and there is a divine purpose for everything.
And I am absolutely certain that letting go of the control illusion is one of the hardest things to do.