Control-sensitive people can be very hard on themselves, especially when the quality of their lives erodes to such an extent that a flat tire or an unpaid bill can cause anguish, panic, or despair. As the strategies of control continue to fail and frustrate you, as you become more and more depleted by worry or depression, one inescapable truth begins to emerge: control is an illusion. Life cannot be controlled. – Self Coaching, by Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D.
This is a hard truth that I learned all too well this past winter. Life cannot be controlled, not with any amount of determination, good intentions, or perseverance. You can set out on the water and hoist your sails, but there is no way to make the wind blow, or change its direction. The best you can do is chart your course well away from the rocks and shoals for a margin of safety, and constantly tend to your sails and rudder, adjusting them with knowledge and skill to make the best of whatever wind is blowing. Most importantly of all, check the calendar and be sure to sit out the hurricane season to wait for that time of year that offers the most favorable conditions for both the wind and the tides. Or at least, stay close to a safe harbor at all times until the season arrives when it is safe to venture out over bluer waters. You have to know the seasons…
In my determination to control my life, I ignored these basic rules of nautical science. I jibed when I should have tacked, and a vicious headwind tore my sails to shreds and left me a marooned castaway. In early January, after our best attempts to save it, a final fracas occurred that erased any lingering doubt that my second marriage was simply not meant to be. I was now a man with no job, no money, no family, and no home to call my own. I wasn’t even sure where home was for me anymore. I only knew one thing for certain – I couldn’t stay at my friend’s home indefinitely. There was only one thing to do now, since my rescue off this island was going to take a miracle. I prayed, of course, straight from my heart, to the One who controls the wind and tides.
Ironically, my friend’s property is named Tuff Decision Farm. I had certainly arrived there with more than a few tough decisions to make, but now I thought I was left with just one. Since I felt like there was nothing holding me in New England anymore, I was now bent on leaving at all costs and moving back West to live with my folks. The only question was whether it made sense to rent a truck to move the few possessions I had left in storage, or just leave them there for a few months and make a dash for safe harbor with whatever clothes I could jam into my car.
Exactly one day later, just as I got off the phone with Penske, my phone rang. It was my ex-wife – the first one, calling from Florida. The first words out of her mouth left me stunned and speechless. It was the last thing in the world that I expected to hear, and it took several seconds to sink in.
“I want to come home,” she said. Then, after a pause with no reaction from me, she added, “We all do – the girls miss Connecticut, and we just want to get out of here and move back as soon as possible. There’s nothing here for us. I need your help, though.”
Suddenly, I didn’t have any more decisions to make. Only a choice. Thank God, I chose to stay put and be a father again, and to crawl out of that pit of despair into which I had fallen. I was getting my kids back. This meant, of course, that I still had to not only get my strength back, but become stronger than ever. In the meantime, my parents needed me back in Colorado, since my father was having surgery on his back. I booked a flight to go help them for a week, and then I booked another one for Gainesville the week following.
When I returned, I would still have one more Tuff Decision to make – a tough choice…