the illusion of control

As this day fades away, I am still thinking of the little boy I never met. Though he began to slip away a week and three years ago, I remember the day he left us forever. Three years ago today, soon to be yesterday. Gone from this earth, gone from my belly.

Gone forever was any hope of his ever being. 

And I can’t help but feel powerless. Still.

Yet after three years, today I am also thinking of another child. Despite every inclination otherwise, I am thinking about our someday maybe baby. 

I am thinking of the uncertainty ahead, of all the factors beyond our control, all the forces beyond even our awareness.  

And I feel powerless. Still. 

In truth, I think I’m too tired to write about all of the ways in which I feel like I have absolutely no control over this outcome, just as I had no control over our son’s death. I am too tired to even sort through these thoughts and emotions. They just are. 

Control is an illusion. Maybe a delusion?

Yet the point is not that I want control, necessarily. Sure, part of me wishes that we were not dependent on another to create our family. Part of me still wishes that those decisions were ours alone, entirely within our control. But as life has shown us all too clearly, that is simply not the case. Control is merely an illusion. 

There are no guarantees. Nothing is certain.

Plus, even if  I had power or control in this situation, I would never seek to exert it. I am overly cautious of even the most subtle form of manipulation as we seek to build a bond with K. I just do my part and try to accept that whatever will be will be. 

So maybe I just crave knowledge. Maybe I just need to know how this will turn out, yet I cannot.

The future is unknown, unknowable. 

We have said all along that we have no control over much of this journey. I have done my best to accept this reality with equanimity. Yet my zen approach has its distinct limitations. Sometimes all the deep breathing and mantras in the world can’t shake those overwhelming feelings of powerless, frustration, uncertainty, and anxiety. 

M recently came to the realization that it is okay to hate the fact that we have no control. Maybe this grants permission to feel those feelings without remorse. Maybe it enables acceptance of that which we cannot change. Say it with me: I hate that we have no control. I really do. And yet, I have to accept it. 

These past few days we have encountered  some issues that could complicate our potential adoption. They were not entirely unanticipated, and they will not necessarily mean anything different for us. But we don’t know. We can’t know. Whatever happens, happens. 

It is odd for me to think and write about the death of our son in the same mental space as our someday maybe baby. Yet this is my life. These are the thoughts and emotions that compete and co-exist in my heart and head and gut. Despite the memories and longing, today (now yesterday) was just another day. 

I have shed so many tears on this journey. Many of those moments came when I felt at my most vulnerable, overwhelmed by the multitude of emotions that are infertility and loss.

So as I thought of our son and our someday child, I shed a few quiet tears. Not many, but some. In this moment of exhaustion, frustration, vulnerability and acceptance, I had to ask myself, who are these tears for? And the truth is I don’t even know. To pretend I did would be another illusion. 


~ by luna on February 4, 2009.

33 Responses to “the illusion of control”

  1. Control is indeed an illusion. As much as we wish we could protect those we love, we cannot control everything that happens to them. I think that is why life is so precious– because there is no guarantee of what the next moment may bring, for good or for bad. We try to plan and prepare and do all we can, but we are simply not in control and so each warm interaction, each loving embrace is a precious moment to cherish as we face an uncertain future.

  2. Luna luna.

    It’s hard to build when you are in exile, and don’t know if or when you will get to go home.

    Applauding your strength, humility and courage as you navigate this complicated passage ahead. It is inspiring and so deeply complicated. And as I sit here and long for you to hold this little child in your arms I also think of a young woman facing the biggest decision of her life.

    (a little prayer from me – I hope you don’t mind) May God carry each of you in this time, and see and honour the integrity with which you live and the respect you show yourself and others.

    And if He doesn’t we sure do.

    your friend (and thanks for the email)

  3. I’m so sorry about the anniversary of what is a sad day for you and M. Thinking of you and M and sending many hugs.

  4. I’m thinking about all of you on this sad anniversary. It’s interesting how sometimes the joyous brings up these trying things. It’s the ebb and flow and disconcerting nonetheless. Giving you a big virtual hug…

  5. The odd (sad) think about this kind of grief is that there is so much to cry for. The children, the parents, the life they lost, the plan that went klafooey, our changed philosophical paradigm, our bodies, and on and on.

    The loss of control is huge, and that’s worth crying over too. No matter how well you stick to the safe and trusted path, everything can still go wrong. It’s why I can’t think more than two weeks in advance and Bella thinks my favorite phrase is “Be Careful!”

    Anyway. Much love to you all today — remembering your son, and holding you all in my heart.

  6. The biggest, most painful lesson I’ve learned in this journey is that, indeed, we have very little control and that there are no guarantees. We lead our lives thinking we can accomplish what we want if we try hard enough.

    There is no need to assign those tears. They simply are.

    Thinking of you, M, your boy and your maybe someday baby.

  7. Before the days of IF, I used to think that if I set my mind to it I could accomplish anything. It’s been tough to realize that so many things are out of my control, and I can’t do anything to change it. I’m sorry that you and M are going through a difficult time right now. I hope that the clouds will lift soon.

  8. Just as I’m a firm believer that we shouldn’t feel like we always need to fix sadness, I don’t think you need to embrace and accept this aspect of life–the lack of control–that brings so much emotional pain. Rail against it, hit it, smack it. You don’t have to love it. You just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep hoping. I’m sending love and good thoughts to you on the loss of your son.

  9. I don’t have any words of wisdom. But I wanted to tell you that I hear you and I support you in your grieving and your waiting.

  10. This is a great post Luna. It’s so captures the complexity of how infertility leaves you feeling out of control, exhausted, and clinging to illusions (even illusions of control). I just started crying yesterday and had no idea why and I think it was truly from everything – everything behind me and ahead of me. Sending you big hugs during this grieving and waiting time. I pray soon your maybe baby will be a reality.

  11. I’ve been thinking a lot about the control delusion lately, and this post really sums it up well. I am so sorry for what you are grieving. There is no right or wrong way for you to feel, so don’t be hard on yourself for the feelings that are there.

  12. Control is such an illusion, you are so right. Add all the factors we deal with regarding fertility and loss, and the haze becomes even more foggy.

    Thinking of you and your son on his day.

  13. Coming to terms with the knowledge that the only thing we have control over is how we react to the lack of control in our lives…that’s what has been so humbling and so frustrating for me.
    Thinking of you as you remember and as you hope for the future.

  14. You’re bang on my friend, bang on. Because for me, if I knew the end answer, I could endure anything (or almost anything), even if I couldn’t control it. It’s the not knowing, the limbo. That’s what kills me. I can’t keep going on with no sense of what the ending is, cuz truthfully I have no clue what it’ll be no matter how good or bad it seems some days. Maybe we’ll have a virtual toast to limbo this weekend – toasting both our crappy states of limbo.

  15. Control as a DElusion — I rather like that. It’s a hard, hard thing to accept. Thinking of you & your little boy today. (((hugs)))

  16. Luna, this post is as close to perfect as it gets. Hitting me right in the heart, as you often do. Especially this:

    “And I feel powerless. Still.

    In truth, I think I’m too tired to write about all of the ways in which I feel like I have absolutely no control over this outcome, just as I had no control over our son’s death. I am too tired to even sort through these thoughts and emotions. They just are. ”

    You are right – all the feelings of loss just ARE. And I don’t know if there’s really anything to be gained from understanding them or sorting them out, beyond just feeling it. Sometimes I think that my urge to sort things out or understand everything is really just an attempt to force myself into making peace with it all. And in my clearer moments, I can see that rushing toward that peace is another way to avoid really FEELING it all. Which is just trampling all over my intentions to be gentle with myself and let myself go through whatever it is I need to, in my own time.

    So it’s ok to hate that you have no control. The peace with it all will come, in time. Or not. Just one more bit of uncertainty to hold.

    Remembering your boy with you.

  17. Sorry for the unexpected issues concerning the adoption, I hope they don’t complicate it too much. Yes, control is quite the invasive illusion. It creeps up on all of us, we just have to learn to turn our noses up at the very ideal… as much as we want it, it is impossible. (*hugs*)

  18. Stop by my blog… I was tagged with an “Honest Blogger” award today, & I’d like to pass it along to you. I can’t think of anyone who writes with more honesty! (((hugs)))

  19. Thinking of you and your little man today and everyday from here on out. I came over from LFCA.

  20. I’m thinking of you, Luna. I’m really behind on blog reading but I saw your Tweet and I wanted you to know that I’m praying. You’re right, it’s a terrible feeling, not having control. It’s okay to hate it. I’m hugging you from here.

  21. Hi Luna,
    Thinking of you.

  22. It seems like the road is so long and you get so tired of walking. There’s a pain that keeps managing to keep coming back, no matter how far you move away from it. Where is the end? I don’t know. I wish I did.

  23. The tears are for everyone and everything. They just are, you know.
    I am sorry I wasn’t online yesterday to comment then. I remember with you, and I dream for you. And I, too, hate that there is no control.

  24. Luna, I’ve been thinking of this post and thinking of you and not knowing what to say. I still don’t know, but I know you’re an inspiration to me as a person and a prospective mother. I’m so grateful for that and for you.

  25. oh i have been there and still am. i can’t tell you how many tears i have shed. quiet tears and gut-wrenching ones. the future is at times overwhelming for us. but what can we do, but relinquish the control we never really had.

  26. Thinking of you so much.

    I have to say that since I’ve given up even the illusion or delusion of control, it’s gotten much MUCH easier. Perhaps that is a lesson I needed to learn because it certainly wasn’t easy for me.

    I think it’s only natural to think of what you’ve lost as you think about what you might be gaining. All of my friends with late term losses did that, whether it was during another pregnancy or on the adoption path.

  27. This is such a profoundly moving post, Luna. There are so many things that I want to say in response – but somehow I just can’t seem to find the words. So instead I’m going to sit quietly and think of you as you both grieve for what is lost, but also wait for what may yet be.

  28. I’ve written about the illusion of control a number of times. You’d think once would be enough. But it wasn’t. And I suspect there are more ramblings on the topic in my future. The dichotomy of working hard and lack of control is just so freaking hard to accept…

  29. […] We knew there would be hurdles. We knew there would be uncertainty. We knew we would have no control.  […]

  30. […] Yet I have resolved not to live in fear. If I were afraid of every thing that could go wrong, I’d never leave home. And I definitely wouldn’t believe that we might be bringing home a baby in just over two months. I have resolved to dwell in the moment of what may be right now, rather than fear uncertainty and become immobilized by the  lack of control.  […]

  31. […] space and ensure that she was free to change her mind. I embraced the uncertainty and gave up on the illusion of control. I tried not to be overwhelmed by the jumble of thoughts in my head at any given time. I chose love […]

  32. […] synergy. And once we met our match, I learned to live in the moment and with the uncertainty and lack of control that is inherent in open adoption. I embraced the time we had to get to know K before Baby J was […]

  33. […] Early on, I remember thinking we should honor an expectant mother’s wishes about the level of openness she might want for her child, even if she wanted limited contact. It seemed respecting her wishes about her adoption plan was the “right” thing to do. Plus, like many other prospective adoptive parents, maybe I secretly wondered if I wouldn’t have been slightly relieved to have more limited involvement, which would presumably be easier or less complicated. Yet I recognized that line of thinking stemmed from fear and insecurity, and even a (futile) desire to control (and control is merely an illusion). […]

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