I have a confession: I'm a control freak. And for many years an unapologetic one at that. The funny thing was I considered myself to be a mild one, especially after overcoming my battle with anorexia during my youth. I was now a helpful control freak! I could solve problems for people, take things off their hands they didn't have time for, and put things into a different perspective for incapable people in my life. Hell I was practically a guru! And with burdens of the world on my shoulders I felt I could handle them better than most, after all they weren't mine. Then came the lesson of a lifetime that has changed my entire outlook on what are and are not my problems, and the realization was magical.
I was with an active alcoholic for eight years, and nothing will bring out the control freak in you like believing you have someone who needs you to fix them. He is now a recovering alcoholic, which is an entirely different journey littered with its own difficulties. I did not learn during his active years that he was not my responsibility. If I had it would have changed so many things for me. My controlling nature only punished me and those years of worrying are ones that I cannot get back. That is my fault, not his. The lesson I learned after he sought sobriety was profound when I heard these words: "No my circus, not my monkeys." It was so simple, clever, and made me laugh when I heard it and I use it every time I feel myself getting dragged into business that is not mine to deal with. When he had a slip up I did the oddest thing. I let go. Sure it was hard and frustrating, but I stepped back and told him that it was between him and his sponsor. Can you believe it? He was not mine to take care of!!! It was a weight lifted of my shoulders and I finally understood loving detachment. When I stepped back and let go I was able to support him, lift him up, without mothering him. It saved me from myself. But it went beyond the recovering alcoholic in my life.
I began realizing how much stuff was not my business. When certain family issues come up I always feel the need to insert myself and discuss it with both parties, not any more. Even if I'm asked I politely ask them to leave me out of it and deal with the person directly. I don't have to fix everything! When you're not meddling in other peoples business you wouldn't believe the time you'll have on your hands. I know what you're thinking: "But Liz, I'm just trying to help" or "They can't do it by themselves, the need me". Let me just stop you right there. No they don't. If they are an alcoholic you can't change that, only they can. If they can't confront someone, they'll have to learn to do it or do without. Its truly not your problem or place. I'm not saying I do not help people, there is a difference. I'm just saying once you're able to distinguish it changes everything. I'm much more worry free by learning to accept that there is nothing I can do about it. If there is, I do my best to rectify the situation, otherwise I let it go. I'm not a ringleader and this is not my problem.