What Control Looks Like

Control looks like two exhausted kids, asleep in their car seats, while dad detours to wash the car after a long day of hiking.  “Never mind how exhausted and hungry you guys are, this car has to look good.”

Control looks like the business owner who still insists on handling every detail of running a business because no one else is competent enough to handle even the most mundane tasks.

Control looks like the hair style that hasn’t been in style in twelve years.  You know the one – it’s untouchable, unnatural and hard as a helmet from several coats of hair spray.  “Mess with my hair and I’ll mess with you.”

Control looks like the family walking through Disneyland dressed in matching shorts, t-shirts and ball caps.  If you see them from the front, they all have the same grimace on their faces.  They’ve been coached to pretend to look like they’re having fun.

Control looks like the house that is never in need of dusting.  Every art object is displayed in the right light.  Every piece of furniture is placed at the best angle.  This house isn’t lived it – living is messy.  This house is for show.

Control looks like too-tight pony tails, double-knotted shoe laces, a pink blouse sans popsicles drips and clean hands and knees.  Control looks like a little girl who is sad because she isn’t allowed to dig for worms because she’ll get dirty.

Control looks like criticism.  He’ll criticize your attempts at faux painting the bathroom, so he can sweep in and show you how talented he is by painting the wall himself.

Control looks like the child in the coffee shop who sits quietly, staring at her hands while her mother sends emails and texts.  This child knows better than to interrupt.  She knows not to make a ruckus.  She knows not to act like a child.



Control looks like the yard down the street – the one belonging to the family with four kids.  At least you think kids live there, but you never see their toys, you never see chalk on the sidewalk, and the lawn is always meticulously manicured.

Control looks like the guy at the cocktail party who doesn’t laugh spontaneously after a joke.  He measures every response.  He carefully holds his drink, stands with impeccable posture, and will complain if the bartender hasn’t mixed his Gimlet perfectly.



Control leaves no margin for error.

Control makes it difficult to breathe easily.

Control is a masquerade hiding a deeply pained, insecure individual.




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  1. It must be exhausting keeping up all those facades.
    The last 3 statements made me shutter and I noticed when I was done that I had held my breath. I don’t know for how long, but I felt the pressure building with each relevant item. Nice work. :)

  2. Z,

    Thanks. As you well know…. that level of control is suffocating.

  3. You must have driven by my house. Lawn is manicured, but one of the souls inside the home is dying.

  4. Annie,

    Reach out, honey. You have many friends.

    love you

  5. You’ve just reassured me that the not-so-gently-worn clothes, messy hair, and crayon-covered walls are a GOOD thing! ;) Three incredibly high-spirited young people in this house have taught me that there really is no use trying to have “control” — the parameters of “normal” vary from day to day.

  6. Meredith,

    Once again, isn’t it amazing how creative/happy/energetic/curious little people can be when we get out of their way.

    Normal is overrated. ;)

    Thanks for writing.

  7. I’m adding one “Control is throwing a tantrum on a public website. Even though the hurt is nearly 2 years in the past. Control is trying to show the world how wounded you’ve been & how terrible and cruel others are for crossing you.” I have to let go of control too. I can’t buy into these dramas.

    Hugs to all, NM

  8. NM,

    Yay, you’re back. ;)

    The tantrums are about their desperate attempt to regain control. Amazing that they are so focused on what they need that they aren’t even embarrassed by their own behaviors. And, yeah, it’s always about their wounds and their hurts. Same old song… over and over again. Isn’t it wonderful to just change the channel and stop listening to their tired song?

    Hugs back to you and yours.

  9. Thank you, Jesse! Yes, it is quite lovely, a much prettier song without all the drama:)

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