Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying, “get your ducks in a row”, meaning that you should be organized and prepared for ‘anything’ that might happen in order to control any problems that might arise. In reality, I have found that when I try to line my ducks in a row, or try to control life’s events, it actually puts more weight on my shoulders. Yes, life should be organized and responsibilities need to be taken care of, but there are many things that I cannot control. At some point, I must trust that everything will work out for the best.
I, the ‘mama duck’ of five ‘ducklings’, always believed that I needed to be in control of my kids, family, and household. I believed that if I could keep them all lined up behind me that I could ensure that they wouldn’t make mistakes or get hurt in any way. In simple terms, you could say that I’m a control freak! I wanted things to be MY way, believing that I knew what was best for them; otherwise I felt out of control. Through many life lessons, I finally realized that this is not the way to live. Constantly trying to keep my ducklings in a row only added stress and anxiety, and it kept them from living their lives to the fullest.
So, how did I figure this out? Well, of course, I had to learn the hard way. I learned through many attempts to bend reality into my version of what was right. Eventually I learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and to trust whatever life put before me.
I decided to get outside help and needed someone who did not know us at all. I needed someone to listen to my struggles and to help me understand my frustration of not feeling in control. Basically, I was a mess! In one of our sessions, I was complaining about how I couldn’t keep my kids from doing things my way. I couldn’t keep them safe, couldn’t control the choices they were making, and couldn’t even make them like each other. To make things worse, I couldn’t control the angry feelings that were festering between my husband and me. The list of things that made me feel out of control went on and on. What I wanted from the therapist was sympathy. However, with a straight face she said, “It’s okay to let your ducks wander. If you do this, they will eventually come back.” With squinted eyes, a frown, and an angry voice I responded, “What the ‘freak’ (ummm, not actually the word I used!) do you mean? I could not understand how I could possibly do this. I needed to be in control! If I wasn’t, everything and everyone would fall apart. Or, so I thought. Then she explained to me the reality that I did not always have to be in control. She reminded me that I did not own my kids, my husband, or my surroundings. She pointed out that I was so busy trying to keep everything lined up that in reality I was avoiding the issues. I was indulging in what looked good, rather than having the faith that things will eventually take care of themselves. The choices my kids made didn’t make me a bad mother. I needed to let them fail, to get hurt, and to learn the hard way. They needed to find themselves and to learn how to let go of me so that they could learn how to pull themselves back up again. I learned that what was more important, as their mama duck, was to be patient and supportive of them when they asked for help. I learned that my role was to guide them, not to lead them. By not letting them wander, fall, and learn on their own, I was holding them back from who they were destined to become.
Due to the fact that our blended family was beginning to spiral out of control, I started to see a therapist. My husband and I were trying so hard to keep our family from falling apart. We knew in our hearts that we belonged together, but raising a family of ‘his, hers, and ours’, was a force against us. We knew that our chance to make our marriage and family work was against the odds; but I knew in my heart that we were a family.
If you come to my house today, you will find ducks everywhere, figurines, pictures, even a keychain that quacks. They remind me that I don’t have to be the leader all the time and things don’t always have to line up my way. Letting my ‘ducks’ wander has given me the freedom to trust that things will line up in the right way at the right time. I now find myself guiding them along their journey in life, and not leading them.
Truthfully, letting go is never easy. If you’re like me, you try to hold on to people or things thinking that this will keep you safe. It can give the false illusion of being in control of things you don’t understand. Is it difficult for you to let your ducks wander? Does your fear of not being in control hold you hostage?
I walked away from this session with a different mindset and knew I had to let go of the anger. That one sentence, “It’s OK to let your ducks wander.”, changed me. I made the decision that day to let go. I realized that I didn’t need to hold on so tightly. These simple words guided me to recognize and release this obsessive-compulsive need to control my surroundings, my family, and life itself. Finally, it was OK to not be perfect. I no longer needed to pretend that all was well in our household.
Besides using my “ducks” as a symbols in reminding me to let go. I use positive affirmations to guide me and help me shift my fears of not being in control. It has empowered me to be ‘comfortable in being uncomfortable’.
I would like to share a few affirmations. Choose one that fits you this moment. Write it down and put it somewhere where you will see it often (mine are on my bathroom mirror). Recite it at least once a day, or whenever needed. Results will not happen overnight, but with each baby step you will find yourself letting go of the fear of letting go. You will be free to live the life you deserve.
- Let go . . . Let God
- Let my ducks wander.
- Don’t judge others.
- I release all fear of not being perfect.
- I let go of my regrets and am grateful for the lessons that have made me who I am.
- The past is a lesson, the future is still a mystery, but today is a gift to live fully in the moment.
- Today I will not stress over things I cannot control.
- Just for today.
- Your choices are your choices.
- I love myself for who I am.