I grew up in a middle class home with my mother, father, and two sisters. My parents both worked full-time outside the home. My mother ran the pizza restaurant we owned and when my father wasn’t at his full-time job, he volunteered for the local fire department. Needless to say, they were never home and when they were, it wasn’t pleasant. Someone was always mad about something. Most of the time it was my dad yelling because the house wasn’t kept to his standards, but I never remember seeing him help out with anything. When I was about 9, my parents hired a woman that was here from Mexico looking for a better life for her and her daughter. They moved in with us in trade for cooking and cleaning. It was then that I discovered having a clean house made everyone happier.
Fast-foward twenty years and I am married with three kids and a husband that is rarely happy. Because of my childhood, I learned at a very young age that a house isn’t a home if it isn’t spotless. Almost all of my husband’s complaints were because the house wasn’t clean 24/7, and like my own father, never helped out. But I was a stay-at-home mom and that was my job.
Fast-forward another year and this is when I discover that my perfectionism in that area of my life was a very unhealthy form of control. My marriage had been a wreak for years and the only thing I could control was how clean my house was, so I made sure it was perfect. The sad thing about my illness was that I actually thought that my husband would love me more by doing what I was doing. In the back of my mind, since the only thing he ever complained about was when he found a toy laying around or laundry not put up by the time he walked in the door, I thought he would be faithful to me once I made him happy in this area. Now I know that his problem was not my fault, but I had a long road of healing that had to take place in the area of control in my life.
You see, when one area of our lives is out of control, we tend to cling to something we do have control over to make ourselves feel safe. That then becomes an obsession, which is never a healthy alternative.
It makes me sad to think back to that time in my life because I missed out on so many things so that I could keep the house perfect and avoid arguments later. My thoughts were always focused on cleaning instead of spending quality time with my loved ones. I still struggle with this to some degree today. I have to make a conscious effort to walk away from the mess because I was conditioned from an early age to believe that a man will hurt you if you do not present your home in a desirable way. This is the first time I have actually put these thoughts on paper and as I do, tears are running down my face. One day I hope that I can finally say that I am completely healed, but right now the scars remain and every time I hear my husband comment on a mess, I find myself reverting back to that control-freak that I once was. And just for the record, my husband is amazing and is in no way, shape or form like my ex. The point is that because of our pasts, we are conditioned to respond a certain way. If we live our lives without examining why we do what we do, we will never become the person God intended for us to be. Thankfully, God is bigger than my past and with Him by my side, I am replacing the lies with His truths.
I pray for each person that reads this. May God reveal to you the areas of your life that you attempt to control to feel safe and secure. May He replace those lies with His word so that your heart can begin to heal and you can become the woman or man that He created you to be.
Our security is in God alone and His love has the power to change the world, one control-freak at at time!