Take-Out Menus Became My Nemesis
October 23, 2020
It comes as no surprise to most people that I have control issues…mostly because I talk about having them all the time. Control issues are all about a fear of something going out of control (obvi) and fear of the unknown. So, basically, COVID-times are a nightmare for anyone with control issues laced with anxiety because we have no freaking clue what tomorrow, let alone next year, will look like.
I got on the phone with my daddy the other day as I hiked up my perpetual hill on the treadmill, and he sounded low, which is rare for Daddy…especially when I’m on the other end of the phone. He always thinks I can’t tell when something is off…he’s wrong. I asked him what was the matter and the first two times he brushed me off. “I’m fine honey, just on my way to work.” Daddy never wants me to worry or think that everything isn’t perfect. To him, I am still his little girl with whom he doesn’t want to burden his thoughts, feelings, and problems. What he doesn’t realize though are thoughts, feelings, and working through problems are my bread and butter. So, I tried one last time.
“Okay, Daddy, something is up. Why don’t you just tell me what it is?”
“I guess I’m just low. I’m sick of not knowing anything right now…in politics, in knowing what the future will look like, just in everything. Nothing is the same anymore.”
You might think that Daddy, as someone who has had all of his power stripped away while spending time in a federal prison camp, would be someone used to feeling powerless, but the funny thing about powerlessness is that every time we see or feel our power being taken away it’s like reopening an old wound, but it somehow feels new and different every time. I’m not sure why.
Control issues are also about making sure there is no situation in which we feel powerless, but never feeling powerless is not an option. It’s not just my daddy that’s struggling right now. I am working with a dietician on how to feel more comfortable around food and making decisions that will best fuel my body and are not made out of fear of what the food will do to my body. This work is really hard for me. Every week she gives me recipes, several for each meal of the day, and every week I make all of them because I know they have the right proportions and because I can trust that they will be good fuel for my body. On my latest call with my dietician, she said, “Chelsea you are making every single recipe I give you. Usually, my clients will make one a week, if I’m lucky.”
“Really? I mean you gave me the recipes why wouldn’t I make them all? I’m a good student and you’re a good teacher, I’m just following what you’re giving me.”
She then made this suggestion, “Chelsea, this week, why don’t we work on flexibility? Order in if you want to, make whatever you’re feeling in the moment, there doesn’t need to be some big ‘to do’ around an exact recipe.”
Much to her surprise, I started to cry. She had pushed the button I bury deep down in my control issues…flexibility. Flexibility scares me. If I order in I can’t control what they’re putting in. If I don’t have a plan I may not do it all perfectly. (Oh, did I mention control issues usually come with a solid dose of perfectionism?) “I’m scared,” I said.
To most people, it may sound strange that I am afraid of a take-out menu…especially when I’m a person that loves food so much. But I have also become really rigid and controlling around my diet because as things all around me are changing it’s all I feel I have control over.
What I am sure about is that feeling powerless can be crippling and we are all experiencing an element of powerlessness right now, and many of us may be trying to find some way to control something to feel less out of power. For some of us feeling powerless might be new, for other it may be a feeling we are more than used to, but either way, it feels like the world or the country or our own minds are failing us, we feel lost, and confused, and there seems no good place to go for legitimate information, which can spiral us into more fear and crippling depression. It’s easy to feel helpless and like the world is a lost cause, and it’s important to feel those feelings fully and appreciate their depth, and then it’s equally as important to encourage our minds and bodies to climb out of the whirlpool. It’s not easy, but there are some things we can do that bit by bit will stop the tornado in our mind for long enough to find moments of peace.
When I feel powerless and afraid, I turn to these tools, usually in this order (you can jump around if time pressure is an issue):
1. Stop and take some deep breaths
2. Think about what I’m grateful for
3. Journal on my perspective and then shift my perspective as much as I can
4. Workout/get outside/get some exercise…endorphins are real!!!
5. Remember what you can control—enter my friend, the serenity prayer, “God/The Universe/Insert your favorite higher power here grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and the ability to know the difference.” THIS. ON REPEAT.
Our lives have always been filled with the unknown and with elements of powerlessness in one way or another, but in these times it has become acutely apparent how quickly meaningful things in our life can be taken away. Loved ones. Freedom. Family. Friends. Choice. Jobs. Smiles. It is scary out there, friends, and the line to healing and feeling powerful isn’t straight and narrow, it’s long, winding, confusing, and sometimes has you walking in the wrong direction entirely, but what’s important is finding moments where we can step away from this fear even just long enough to inhale and exhale peacefully for thirty seconds.
I crafted this list for myself and for those in my life who have been afraid and unsure of how to move forward. We all have an opportunity to choose how it is we feel in every moment and it’s okay to choose to feel powerless and to feel it fully, as long as you know your power is right there waiting to be picked up and taken back whenever you feel ready even if that power feels different than it did before. And fear is there to be put down and put in perspective. Fear will always exist, but what we choose to do with it is something within our control.
I love you, my friends. I am scared, and anxious, and excited, and joyful, and powerful, and powerless all at the same time and that is truly okay and acceptable for me and it is for you too. XOXOX, CAMDW.