I’ve been a bit of a control freak my entire life. In fact, I always had a “grand plan” for how I wanted my life to look.
Work hard in school. Get into a good college. Graduate and find a job. Get engaged by 25. Married by 27. First house by 28. Pregnant by 29. First kid by 30. So on and so forth…
I thought that if I followed this grand plan, I would achieve the ultimate happiness.
My life hasn’t panned out that way. Most notably with our attempt to start a family. So how does someone who has the urge to control and manipulate every single aspect of her life react when things aren’t working with her (ridiculous) self-imposed timeline? Not well. Not well at all.
The Need to Control All.The.Things.
When we first started trying to have a baby, I naively assumed that I would get pregnant quickly. And I attacked getting pregnant like I do most things in life. If I work at it hard enough and put in the time and effort, I will see the results. I was healthy, taking all of the right supplements, tracking all the things, and yet I couldn’t get pregnant. It was completely out of my control. So being a planner, I sought out the best fertility specialists I could to solve our problem. Once we started fertility treatments, I attacked it the same way. I was meticulous with my meds, organized all of my shots, sought out an acupuncturist and a nutritionist, and researched every possible test I could to make sure we were on the right path. I figured if I was the model fertility patient then it would absolutely happen. If I could control every tiny little detail, then I would be pregnant in no time. And I was constantly planning my life 9 months out. If we get pregnant this month, I’ll have the baby at this time. etc. etc.
We all know how that turned out.
Hitting Rock Bottom
When we lost our baby, my initial reaction was to research all the things. Why did this happen? What tests did I need? Could we get on the schedule to try again as soon as possible? I needed to take back control somehow.
Then my sweet friend Lauren dropped off a little care package at my house. Inside was a book called, The Universe Has Your Back. Initially, I rolled my eyes at the title. Clearly, the universe didn’t give a damn about me or else it wouldn’t have taken my baby away. I was curious to see what insight this “woo woo” book had to offer me.
The Universe Has Your Back
I devoured the entire book that night as if it was speaking directly to me. And even though I was in the worst pain of my life, I started to loosen my grip a bit.
The books main message is that the Universe (or God, or inner spirit, or higher power…whatever you want it to be) has a plan for you, and the only way to truly feel joy is to relinquish the need to control.
The day after I finished the book, I went into the doctor to make sure that my D&C was successful. When she told me I still had retained tissue and that we’d have to wait to see if it would come out, I didn’t panic. 3 months ago, I would have cried, freaked out, and googled every possible thing that could be wrong with me. But instead, I thought to myself…I cannot control if this comes out or not. I can choose to obsess over this (even though I can’t change the outcome), or I can just go about my day.
Luckily, I chose the latter.
Choose Love. Not Fear.
After reading the book, I realized that my need to control everything came from fear. I was scared of where my life was headed and thought that if I obsessed over it, then things would turn out my way. I was living in constant fear and this mindset wasn’t helping me to achieve the life I wanted.
So I’ve been trying to choose love instead of fear as much as possible. It’s hard. So so hard. And I still find myself getting worked up and anxious and worried about the future (old habits die hard). But I keep this quote, “Choose Love. Not Fear” with me at all times. I have it up on a letter board and I even had a bracelet engraved with the message. When I’m at the doctor and worried about pending test results or what might happen, I look at my bracelet and try to calm down. And it actually really helps.
Letting Go of Your Life’s Timeline
I wanted to share this message with you guys because I feel like it applies to everyone…no matter where you’re at in your life or what you’re struggling with. Maybe you’re single and feel like you have to find your life partner immediately in order to be happy. Or maybe you have to make a certain amount of money at your job or get promoted by a certain time in order to be fulfilled. We create these ridiculous fake timelines in our heads and believe that once we achieve that goal our lives will be better.
While I think it’s amazing to have goals, there are so many outcomes you can’t control. And instead of living for that next big milestone, you have to live in the moment.
One of my good friends was telling me how she feels like she is in “limbo” right now. She is still renting with her husband and they haven’t started to try for a family. And she told me how everyone around her is buying houses and having babies, and she just feels stuck in this limbo time of her life.
I shared with her my new habit of choosing love over fear and how it was helping me to stop with the self-imposed timelines. I could either choose to be miserable with my current situation and wait until it changed, or I could accept it and enjoy this season of life.
I’ll Be Happy When…
I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve used the phrase “I’ll be happy when…”. In fact, Bridget and I use it all the time. I’ll be happy when the kitchen project is over. I’ll have more time when our gift guide is released. Life will get less crazy when school is out. Whatever it may be, we’ve always been ones to think about what life will be like when a big task is checked off our list or a milestone is achieved.
Instead of enjoying the life we have now, we’re always thinking about how HAPPY we’ll be when we make a certain profit, or finish a big project, or whatever it might be. But the truth is, there is always going to be something more to achieve. And instead of enjoying these milestones, we immediately set our sights on the next one.
I remember thinking about how happy I would be when I found out I was pregnant. And don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled. But then I would think, well I’m still not safe. I’ll be happy when we hear a heartbeat. Then we heard the heartbeat and I thought…well I’ll be happy when we make it to 12 weeks, then I can truly relax. Instead of enjoying the fact that I was finally pregnant (!!!), I was too consumed with hitting the next goal and was terrified that it could be taken away from me. I wasn’t living in the moment, I was living in the future. And as a result, I was full of anxiety.
Learning to Live for Today
It was heavy on my heart to share this new way of thinking with you guy because even during the most traumatic event of my life, this new mindset has helped me tremendously. And if you’re out there worried about your timeline, this is me urging you to throw it out the window. Instead, live today and appreciate what you have right now.
Life doesn’t have deadlines. All we can do is enjoy the journey.