“Self, Other, We.”
Part 6: The Controller
I was standing in Costco minding my own business looking at the surf boards and paddle boards at the summer kiosk. From a distance I heard a voice say “Aren’t you a little too old to be looking at those? I looked in the direction of the voice expecting to see a friend who was teasing me and trying to yank my chain. But much to my surprise, it was a total stranger. Our eyes locked as he drew closer in the aisle. I continued my stare as I was trying to figure out what was happening. His face wasn’t friendly, and his demeanor was intimidating. Our eyes remained locked as he walked and I determined that I would not be the first to blink. As he passed by me, he blinked first, looked away and moved on.
Having been bullied as a child and teen, I’m keenly aware of how bullies provoke and intimidate others looking for weakness. Somewhere along the line I made a vow to myself “never again” will I be subjected to the meanness and brutality of others, hence my continued and sustained devotion to the practice of martial arts.
My internal evil twin “Milano” wanted to lash back with things like “I can see why you’re not wearing a wedding ring.” Or “Welcome to your ex-wife and kid’s world.” Or “I can see why you’re alone here today.” But the discipline of my training took over and I held my tongue. All the while, my counselor lens could see that inside this grown man was a little child who had been bullied, tormented, abused, and terrorized. Had we talked, I would have lead with that.
Self: He’d been in my counseling office many times! No, not him specifically, but dozens like him who are driven to correct in others anything that makes them uncomfortable or agitated. Controllers have horrid childhoods in which they are held hostage by an unhealthy dominate caregiver. The child is in a bind in which they are dependent upon the very person that mistreats them. When they grow up, an unconscious switch is flipped and a decision is made: “I will never be dominated again!”
Other: Since “other” didn’t matter in their home growing up, as an adult, “other” still doesn’t matter. Thus, my personal thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and personhood did not matter to Mr. Costco Controller. There was no respect shown to a fellow human being. I didn’t matter to him. I was just a nuisance that needed to be corrected and put in my place.
We: Does not exist! “I have no use for you except to make my dinner, give me sex, and comply with my demands.”
• To acknowledge your attachment style and accept the reality of your behavior.
• As painful and repulsive as it may seem, to look at your childhood and acknowledge the horror that took place. Learn to get angry at the past and grieve the losses which then diffuses the anger and need to control in the present.
• To having empathy for yourself, the little child inside you that was so helpless and alone. See him or her every day and promise to never forget him or her.
• As empathy is developed for yourself, you will then begin to learn to have empathy and compassion for others.
• Face your addictions, for controllers usually have several. Get in groups and programs that will help you bring your addictions under control.
• Join a men’s group where you can learn to be a peer to others as well as learn to receive instruction from a leader. Share your journey with them.
There is more information on the Controller at www.howwelove.com. Start the journey today.
Thanks for listening,