Everybody who knows me would describe me as a tightly wound anxious control freak. I used to wear this as a badge of honor, citing it as the example why most of our social endeavours end up working out so well. Somebody has to take charge sometimes to plan and organize things or else events will just devolve into people randomly walking into each other and losing their ability to speak English.
I’ve never been a “go with the flow” type. I don’t believe in the phrase. When water initially flows down a piece of land, physics and gravity guide it into a channel. It isn’t just a random karmic movement of flowing molecules… they are governed by real laws of science until they find the best possible channel down which to flow. I am a type of person that goes out and looks for that channel, and if it doesn’t exist… I dig it. It’s proactive pragmatic situation control… it works wonders in many disciplines of the world.
It doesn’t translate too well to being a cancer patient, though. I learned that from minute one of being in the hospital. I don’t often enter situations that are way over my head without at least doing SOME research, but I was told to “drop what you are doing and go to the ER” so I had no time to prepare. As I sat in triage, I had a moment where I pulled out my phone and started to type in WebMD…because knowledge is power, right? NOT THIS TIME. I put the phone away and sat patiently on the bed and waiting for the doctors to tell me what I needed to know.
This attitude continued on for the rest of the day, with me only asking a few important questions about certain realities and practicalities. “How long do I have to live here? My bones have WHAT in them? Am I ….am I…….die?”
Other than that I have been making a very conscious effort to stay out of the way as much as I can in this whole process. I don’t know anything about chemo, oncology, injectional drugs..but the people I’m surrounded by are EXPERTS. Why bother getting in their way? I just listen to the directions they give me and I perform the tasks that will make their jobs easier for them. I want nothing more than to be a model patient here and I won’t do that by getting in anybody’s way or exerting any sort of dominance or by dropping any knowledge. I trust these people endlessly, I have to. They are the best at what they do and I will do everything they tell me to do. If I were a dog I would be on my back with my tail wagging between my legs.
This relinquishment of control has been nothing but liberating. Before I became sick my life was spiraling down into the depth of anxiety and stress. Things were getting dark and unruly in my psyche and something had to give. Ever since my new normal began and I’ve only had one single thing to worry about – not dying from cancer – my life has improved. Seriously. I have simplified my entire life down into just one all important goal and it has totally removed all of the stresses and anxieties that I thought mattered. This is perhaps the most important self improvement lesson that I will learn from this experience. It’s another one of those instances where I’m almost glad this happened to me… my perspective was in dire need of a change and this threw my ass right into the fire.
Letting go of control means letting go of so much stress, anxiety and worry. It just doesn’t exist when you are able to fully trust others. It certainly helps when those others are experts at the top of their field, but the lesson can be applied elsewhere, too. Not worrying about how things are going to get done without my help and input has allowed me to shine in my role as a patient, and it has given me a ton of free time and energy to goof around…WHICH IS IMPORTANT.
In short, trying to exert control over something that you don’t actually control causes stress, anxiety and self burden. Allowing yourself to accept the fact that you can’t do shit most of the time and to trust those who can is a very personally liberating feeling that will help all people and societies achieve their goals.
Namaste and shit.