You can’t control everything. I struggle a lot with this notion. I mean, I know I can’t control EVERYTHING but the amount of things in my life that I do try to control goes beyond excessive.
I hate to admit this, but after my break-up, I would constantly think about my ex. I would think about things that happened during our relationship. I would remember how we met and how I fell in love. I would remember how much I had loved him. I’d remember times when he treated me like shit but I didn’t considerate it that way. I’d remember moments that he made me feel small and I’d let him. I’d think of the next time I’d see him. When? Where? Who would he be with? Who would I be with? How would he look? How would I look? What would I be wearing? Would I cry? Would I curse him out? Would I ignore him?
Let me tell you something. Reliving a past that hurts in the present, or imagining scenarios that will 99% never even happen, is completely exhausting. The thing that I really hate to admit, though, is that when I did start thinking about these things, it would end up in a downward spiral. Not only would I not be able to stop thinking about it, I wouldn’t WANT to stop thinking about it. I’d want to curl up in my bed and think about all of it. I knew this was unhealthy. But I didn’t care. Because by thinking about all of it, it somehow kept me connected to this guy. And I missed him. I really did. I loved him and I hated him and I missed him and I knew that I never wanted to see him again.
In other words, I was a fucking mess.
It was Nina who introduced me to Brian. And funnily enough, it was Nina who introduced me to the book that would change my life. (I need to add something else, because I fucking love her for it… Yes, Nina introduced me to Brian. Yes, she was super excited when we got together. Yes, she thought we were good together. She was there through all of it. She was there when he stopped talking to me. She was there when I was hysterically crying because I didn’t understand and I didn’t know what to do. And when it was all over, she never apologized for introducing me to him. I kept thinking, if another friend had introduced me to Brian, and found out what a piece of shit he is, they would in some way feel responsible. Even if they didn’t, they’d want to relieve themselves of any guilt, that I might possibly blame them. To some this might seem ridiculous, but I just know that if it were someone else, they’d apologize to me. At some point, they would. And it would bug the shit out of me. And Nina would never fucking do that. Because she’s awesome.)
We were walking her pup downtown one afternoon, when I mentioned Brian. She got frustrated with me (in a best friend, loving kind of way), and asked me, “Why are you thinking about him right now?” Because I’m always thinking about him! I can’t stop thinking about him. He’s always in my fucking head. “OK you really need to read The Untethered Soul. You need to buy it right now.”
I sulked in response. Nina has told me about this book for the past two years. She raves about it. She lives by it. I was never interested in reading it. I don’t know why. I nodded and told her I would.
It was weeks later when I was in Topanga and had just finished reading Big Magic. I was texting with Nina, after a day of bad anxiety and too many thoughts of Brian, when she responded: “You should go buy The Untethered Soul now. Seriously.” OK maybe I will. “Buy the book. Seriously. It really helps A LOT.”
And with that, I knew I had to buy it. So I did. The next day.
I had the weekend to myself in Topanga. I was completely alone up there. Which turned out to be exactly what I needed while reading this book. I can’t stress enough how amazing this book is. It’s so amazing that I went out and bought a copy for Tara, then sent a copy to Mom for Mother’s Day and to (my sister) Sarah as a belated birthday present.
The book starts off by asking about the voice in your head. You know, that incessant voice that never stops?? Well get this… that voice is not you. That voice is your psyche. YOU are the being behind the voice. You are aware of the voice speaking its craziness. This, in itself, was mind blowing to me. I never knew that the voice in my head wasn’t me. How comforting to know that I’m actually not a complete crazy person! Because this voice is 100% crazy. The book asks you to start recognizing the voice as a voice. And Christ, this made me feel even crazier. Before I only listened to the voice. Now I was hearing it but knowing it wasn’t me!
Halfway through the book, around Chapter 8 or 9, is when the book really rocked me. And I mean, to my core. To the point that I was scared, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe, because I realized, I CANNOT go on living my life this way. And I don’t want to. It was a moment that made my heart skip a beat, because I was so happy that I knew I needed to change, but at the same time terrified that I wouldn’t be able to. I had to put the book down and take deep breaths. I paced. I felt like I was living a different life. I truly felt like everything was about to change. Because how could it not? How could I know these things about myself, and keep living this way? I couldn’t.
I know I’m being vague. It’s important to note that the book never actually made any mention of my personal issues. Which is why I’m so intent on sharing it with the world. It’s universal. Whatever your issues are, it doesn’t matter. This book will resonate with you.
Singer talks a lot about control. He says that the things we try to control the most, are the things that end up controlling us. And the things we fear the most, are the things we try to control.
Woah. Right? I’ve always thought I needed to control certain things in my life. Turns out, I don’t need to control them, I need to LET THEM GO. What a terrifying, freeing, simple idea. Just let it go. I know this is easier said than done.
But I’m constantly asking myself…. is it? Is it really that hard? Singer asks you to think about something you need to control all the time. Something you need to do all the time. And then, don’t do that thing. See what happens. See what resistance creeps in. I felt like he was looking into my soul when I read these words. Like he knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it.
Just like I can’t control the things I want to, I can’t control life. Life happens. Life is ever-changing. As much as I plan and know ahead of time, I can’t know what’s going to happen in the next moment. And embracing that notion of just letting things happen, and letting things unfold, seems like a much less anxious way of being. And more like a person who appreciates things as they do happen. So that when things happen that I’m not expecting, I can see them as a beautiful part of life, or perhaps, a sign (no pun intended!), as opposed to a disruption to my preconceived notion of the way things should be.