Susan Burrell

One Sip at a Time, Blog

Giving Up Control


Holding tightly, holding onto, holding so hard that I even held my breath without realizing it.  If I could just keep things running on an even keel, keeping things afloat, I could maintain my life, my marriage.  Except that my need to keep things status quo was killing me without my realizing it.  You know the story about the boiling frog, right?  The frog stays in the pot of boiling water not realizing that the temperature is rising until it is too late and his dead.

Maintaining control had become my boiling, roiling pot.  My heart was closed off and protected. My jaw was clenched and my hands were gripping to hold onto something that hadn’t been working for a while. We wanted it to work but never understood how to do that, I made sacrifices, as did he.  But our marriage was coming to an end.

It had to be pried from my heart and my tight fisted grip. 

When you hold onto something so tightly, you don’t have the ability to see that it is no longer a viable thing.  You keep trying to breathe life into something that died a long time ago. 

So why not just let go? The idea of letting go stirs up fear.  Fear of the unknown, of what do I do without this?

Letting go of control requires courage and trust in the Universe.  It requires you to step into the unknown and navigate blindly.  Or at least that is what I thought. I gathered a group of trusted friends to help me cross the bridge into the unknown.  It meant I had to ask for help, for support, for a shoulder to lean on.

It also meant I had to begin to learn about myself.  What could I trust within myself?  It was a hard practice to develop.  Trusting myself and others in a new way.  Not in the old way of relying on the “man” to make the best choice - but relying on myself to make choices that were best for me. 

A closed fist cannot receive anything - a handshake, a giftNothing. Just like a closed heart.  It rejects the love, happiness, peace that may be offered.  Being in control or wanting to feel in control, keeps you closed off to the infinite possibilities that surround us.  In an attempt to control circumstances, you are signaling to the Universe that you don’t want any help.  You don’t want any ease or grace.  In fact, you are unconsciously saying you want to remain small and unreachable.  You don’t want anything to change, even if you are in a boiling pot with all the other frogs. You want to remain separate from the rest of the world. And the mind will find ways to make you think that your way, your controlling the situation, circumstance, relationship will keep you safe. That is not true. 

When I finally let go of my marriage, it did feel like I was free falling - and since I am afraid of heights, it was pretty scary.  Once I committed to the path of divorce, my letting go became a daily, moment by moment thing. It felt as if I were a piece of clay that was being re-formed into a different kind of vessel.  Circumstances, lawyers, conflicts, hurts became the “hands” that were transforming me into something new. 

The slip a potter uses when they throw a pot on a wheel keeps the clay soft enough to form a pot or a cup, a chalice or a bowl.  It is wet and messy and often collapses in on itself. The Universe was my potter and the circumstances were the wet slip to make me malleable. In order for me to come out new, whole, I had to release my need to keep things the same, release my need to control the circumstances of my life.  I had the choice to either be that wet and sloppy collapsed piece of clay on the wheel or become the strong vessel of beauty and service. Become something new that could hold life gently and allow it to flow in and out of my container. I moved from holding on tightly to being open handed and open hearted.  And I have found that life is so dynamic and being open is the best way to experience it.  Nothing stays the same and that is for the best.  What a concept!