I imagine there are a few of you out there. You know, control freaks. Needing to dictate this or that— how the room is set up, or the coffee is made, who lights which candle, how to answer a phone. All those important things. Don’t worry, no judgement here. I am one of you! Yes, siree, a total control freak here. No doubt about it.
But in all seriousness. Control. So much of this need to control is rooted in trauma. When you have so little say over the violence that’s happening to you, you want to control anything and everything that you can. The need to be in charge. Whether from trauma or character flaw, being in charge, being in control has been the security blanket that kept me breathing for so long, but it didn’t keep me…alive.
As a survivor of assault, being in charge, being in control has felt incredibly important to me. I needed it. I needed it like I needed air, like I needed justice, like I needed peace. I needed it because I couldn’t trust anyone else. Because I couldn’t trust myself. If I could just control how things happened, then I didn’t need to rely on my intuition. I wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice. I would be safe. I would be safe. I would be so fucking safe…
That’s a lot of energy. A lot of pain. I’m wondering if you’ve felt the same thing.
It has almost been a year since I began this journey with Aquarian Age Wicca. And in this time I have gone through an extraordinary process of evolution; taking me to a place I didn’t think was possible— wholeness.
When I began taking courses, I was scared all of the time. I couldn’t leave the house without having a panic attack. Being in public was only bearable if I was downing an exorbitant amount of alcohol and nicotine. I had just had my dream vocation ripped out from under me, had been hospitalized after an attempted suicide, waking from nightmare after violent nightmare, and was destroyed over the sense of injustice of it all. I was so…so broken. Shattered. Painfully fractured. And, again, I didn’t trust anyone, and I sure as hell didn’t trust me. Yet, the members and teachers of AAW sat there saying joyfully: Trust your intuition! Trust your intuition! Trust your intuition!
Trust my intuition? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. And they were fucking cheerful. I mean CHEERFUL. Who are these granola eating, tree hugging, happy-loving, circle-dancing, instinct-trusting weirdos? That’s insane, right? That’s nonsense. That’s stupid. That’s a terrible idea. That’s…That’s so heart wrenchingly hard. My intuition was why I got hurt…right?
Over time though, through classes (both wonderful and frustrating) and whispered (and not so whispered) words of encouragement, that’s exactly what happened. I began to trust myself. I began to trust my gut, and it felt so empowering. Like that first shot of espresso, I was bursting
full of energy that bordered on aggression. I found my mad. The shame was gone, and I was angry at EVERYTHING. It was exhilarating.
I felt my power and I would exert the shit out of it. I knew what was right. I knew how things should happen. I am a strong independent person, now! And yet….
I still wasn’t happy. I was still grieving. I was still growing. I was still learning. I was still aching for something more. And I was still the most controlling control freak I knew. I could trust me now, but I still couldn’t trust you.
Coming out of an oppressive religious system, the thought of listening or, God(dess) forbid, obeying a member of clergy literally brought vomit to my mouth. The sour feeling in my stomach wouldn’t go away. I would try to reason with myself, “but they are so nice,” and “this is different.” And, sure, they are so nice, and this is so different. But it felt hard, nonetheless, because it meant I had to trust them. And boy, did I push back. Because trusting felt so hard. Wiccan High Priestess and writer, Thorn Mooney explains in her recent work Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide, that traditional Wicca is a hierarchical tradition, but it isn’t about overpowering. Its structure is about creating a space for learning and growth. Our elders teach us, and from them we learn and rise, eventually to become the elders.
Ah, fuck no. How can I trust these supposed elders? I can’t trust anyone!
But, then I asked myself: Does that really compute? In all the months I have worked with AAW, has the clergy or have my classmates ever led me astray? Have they ever hurt me, or lied to me, or assaulted me? No.
And have they always kept their word? Yes. Have they always received me gently, meeting me where I am, while also pushing me to strive for healing? Yes! I’ll say it again for all you other control freaks and sceptics in the back: Yes. Yes. Yes.
In AAW, I’ve learned about and harvested my own power. And I’ve learned to trust the process, to trust my community, my teachers, my High Priestess. I’ve learned that following doesn’t have to mean victimization. Following doesn’t mean giving up power. Following means learning to let
go of that control just enough. So that I may remain present and create the much-needed space for my roots to stretch deep, deep, deep within this earth-based tradition, and to allow my crown to reach, up, up, up into the clouded firmament. In AAW I’ve found my voice, and…my ears.
I’ve found the gift of apprenticeship; leaning into the wisdom of my teachers and learning to truly listen.
Am I still a control freak? Perhaps. But, these days, when I find myself anxiously wringing my hands, I pause, breathe, center and ground, and lean in to listen. It’s all going to be okay. I am going to be okay. I am safe. I am powerful. I am enough. I am whole.