“It’s beyond my control …” John Malkovich, Dangerous Liaisons

The hardest thing I’ve done over the past year is to accept that I have no control over many of the elements of my life, especially PEOPLE.

This acceptance appears to be an ongoing process, because as many times as I see the light, so to speak, I often end up talking myself into believing that maybe just this one time I can control the outcome… which these days doesn’t work out so well for me. Check out also this TEDx Rainier video about self-control:

I don’t remember all the details about Dangerous Liaisons – but I remember it being a movie about sex, love, and control gone awry. I saw it when I was around 20 and I was floored by a scene where John Malkovich said over and over again “It’s beyond my control.”

On one hand it totally turned me on, and on the other hand, it pissed me off – OF COURSE you have control over this, you moron! Can’t you see you’re killing that poor woman (with whom I could totally relate with at the time)?? More than the context in which he said it, I was moved by the almost visible, tangible battle being waged inside him between needing to control his external circumstances and surrendering to the reality that he simply could not do it.

Like Malkovich’s character in his younger years, I enjoyed control over my external circumstances for much of my adult life. I said and did the things that led people to love, accept, trust and even obey me. But in order to stay in control, I couldn’t allow myself to dive too deep, to surrender and really open up to myself or to anyone else. Sure, my job has worn me out, or at least that’s how I see it, but that it’s not the full explanation.

Nobody I knew, including myself, required – much less inquired about – such abstract and uncomfortable acts like ‘opening up’ and surrendering. If someone had mentioned it even two years ago, I’m not sure I would have understood what they were talking about.

The only thing over which I have control is myself. And ironically, it’s the one area where I’ve been I’ve been reluctant (okay, terrified!) to exercise control. I tried playing video games like Hearthstone (Unicorn Priest) but that wasn’t the solution either.

Will I continue in vain to yell at my daughter to clean up after herself, prove myself to my husband, get my mom to embrace her imperfect daughter, and try to single-handedly save the world from climate change? Or will I let go of my fantasy that I have control over my external world and start to actually LIVE my life?

I believe the answer is BOTH. The epiphanies hit me in an instant, but it takes time for me to actually evolve like became last summer during some alternative activities.

Every time I let go of control, even if it’s just for a moment, I am overcome with relief and exhaustion. It’s HARD WORK to stay in control… it’s like trying to literally hold back destiny from unfolding as it should. I think I should just stay on top of my job as a phlebotomist. It’s resisting the lessons that are right in front of me for the learning. It’s holding my breath…

But old habits die hard and I find myself slipping back time and time again. However, the distance I move backward is getting shorter in both time and space. And my forward movement is beginning to happen in quantum leaps.

As I become less invested in the person I thought I was, I’m starting to enjoy experimenting with the person I want to become. It’s an interesting adventure moving beyond my control… almost as interesting as Being John Malkovich.

I’m going to have to check out those two movies again… and see if the parallels are as parallel as I think are. If not, at least I’ll be thoroughly entertained.