How to Lose Control
The need to control everything is actually a massive waste of energy
About a year ago, a therapist asked me about a serious eating disorder I had as a teenager. “Why do you think an eating disorder manifested at that time in your life?”
I perked up in my chair, ready to respond. “Control,” I answered, promptly.
“Yes.” She seemed impressed that I had already uncovered that mystery. “Eating disorders can often be about control or a need to regain control.” We moved on.
That manifestation of a need for control — disordered eating — has mostly passed. I eat when I’m hungry; I’ll order anything off a menu. I spent many years shapeshifting my eating disorder into various vegan, vegetarian or grain-free diets. Full disclosure, I used veganism as a way to carry on with that thread of control, and I was informed that this is an incredibly common jump as a more acceptable form of disordered eating for those with a proclivity. (This is only my experience. I still fully believe that vegan and vegetarian diets support the environment in profound ways, and that the majority of people who follow them have no connection to disordered eating. But some do. I had to admit to myself that I don’t care about chickens, except for the way they taste deep fried.) The truth is, I feel like I don’t even have time for an eating disorder right now.
My need for control has not really dissipated. It just materialized in new ways.
I have three young children and am a perpetual graduate student. I’m currently in my fourth year of grad school — I spent three getting my Master’s in literature at UNC Charlotte, and I’m currently working on my MFA at NC State University. I love school; it’s where I’m happy. I don’t imagine that everyone reading this is working on a second Master’s degree in their mid-thirties with three kids. But I do believe that many of you are busy — working, perhaps raising kids, perhaps navigating complicated relationships. Essentially, a busy life is a busy life, whether one is in the midst of writing a novel or preparing for an important meeting or folding their thirteenth load of laundry.