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Recently, a friend posted something about control and it stayed with me through the day. I kept coming back to it, such that I eventually conceded that maybe it was something I needed to write about.  Maybe it was a conversation I needed with myself. so that I understood more clearly.

As with everything I post here, I would expect you to take what you will from it. And if it doesn’t work for you, well, it doesn’t work. That’s exactly as it should be.  I would hate for anyone to see this as anything more than opinion.

Now, where was I?loveme

All of us are familiar with the obvious signs of control, with individuals who insist that everything be done their way. They set the rules for every relationship they have, with only a cursory concern for anyone other than themselves. But there are other ‘less obvious’ things that I have come to view as control, and I’ve struggled with coming up a definition that works (that expresses my thoughts). Maybe, for me, it’s a grey line that ultimately comes down to expectations.

If you do something nice for me, with an expectation that I will do the same, that’s a form of control because your heart isn’t concerned as much with the giving as with the getting back. If you wash my car because you’re planning to ask me to watch your dog on Saturday, I view that as a form of control and the kind act is somehow lessened. Of course, I realize that I could thank you for the car wash and still refuse to watch your pet, but that’s a bigger pill to swallow because it requires us to ignore the kindness. See?

Yet, this stuff happens all the time. It’s a give and take (o, the games people play). Even the best relationships are filled with these subtle interactions (dance), as perhaps they should be. That’s why the line is so fuzzy – because it’s not so easy to see when a gesture becomes a job – when a kindness becomes a debt – when a good relationship becomes not so good. From my perspective, the line is the expectation.  At the precise moment that I thought less of you because you didn’t respond or react the way I wanted, it stopped being about my love for you.

I’m not perfect (yeah, I’ve said that before), and I’ve behaved in very unloving ways at times. I regret those and, in retrospect, I can see the instant I crossed the fuzzy line. In some cases, I just wanted someone else to feel as badly as I. In others, I was convinced that tears or ultimatums would somehow swing the odds in my favor. But, if I look closely (and honestly), those were times when the only thing that mattered was that I got what I wanted.

And that’s a control issue, no matter how easily it might be to defend.

If I refuse to keep your pooch, and you blow up, reminding me of how you washed my car……..well, there you have it. If I get angry because I don’t get my way and somehow make it all your fault, that’s a control thing. I am absolutely sure of one thing – if you wish to see who someone really is, watch what they do when they don’t get what they want.

“Anyone who loves in the expectation of being loved in return is wasting their time.”  From my personal experience, I might even argue that they just think they’re loving.

As you would expect, many of my students are experts in the art of control. Family and friends are manipulated by the notion that their loved one will be homeless, without food, or even suicidal if they don’t pay the electric bill, keep the kids, or buy them clothes for a date (with the guy who is going to change everything).  It’s not hard to understand why so many are without any support at all; they’ve become masters at burning bridges.

I rarely have a class where someone doesn’t approach me with a need of some kind, and by need, I mean something beyond that which I’ve openly offered.  Those who know me might wonder how I could ever say ‘no’, and yet I’ve come to understand that (sometimes) in helping, the only thing I’ve done is delay the lesson.  I’m not even sure they notice how their perceived need has become something more – a means for measuring.  They’ve done it so long that they’re oblivious to the demands they make on the people who love them (as proof of that love).

It’s everywhere. Employees tolerate an ogre of a boss because they’re afraid of losing their job; men so afraid  of losing everything that they settle for a co-existence rather than a relationship built on love; women who trade their voice for nicer kitchen cabinets and granite countertops.

The world is filled with takers, those who can spot a kind heart across a busy freeway. The really sad thing is that there are kind hearts out there who want so badly to be loved that they will accept whatever they’re given.

“What we all want, really, is to be loved. That craving drives our worst behavior.”

The best relationships are defined by those with no ulterior motive for love. True love is never a dependency; it seeks only to be.

“I am surprised how difficult for people is to say “I love you”. They only say the three magic words when they are sure they will hear “I love you too” back. C’mon! Spread the energy of love without expecting anything! Cowards are incapable of expressing love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”

what of this
my heart shall break
and leave upon your hands
the stain
the promise
I was waiting for
is not for want
to come again

. . .