'Hi, my name is Jennifer, and Iím a control freak.'
'Hi, Jen' the crowd responded in unison.
Then they started criticizing each other on how they said 'hi', how to pronounce my name, and how their chair was placed. It was the last time I went to a Control Freaks Anonymous meeting.
Living day to day as a control freak isnít really that hard. Itís pretty simple to control what you eat, where you go and what you do. You can boss around your boyfriend to do what you want rather easily. Or heíll ignore you, you forget what you told him and you all live happily ever after anyway.
But watching a control freak plan a wedding is like seeing how many jellybeans you can fit in your mouth: amusing for a little while, but in the end painful and likely to make you ill.
Iíve been making myself sick for about two months now. It started with the date. Seems everyone thought they had a right to an opinion, including the Beloved. After much screaming, gnashing of teeth and a few threats to call the whole thing off, we agreed on a day. Okay, so the dateís set and I move on to the next phase. Picking a reception site.
Sounds easy doesnít it. After two trips to the wedding city and looking at eleven places to satisfy my curiosity and belief that the very one I wouldnít look at would be perfect and cheap. After eleven, Beloved called it quits. I started to cry. Thatís when my control freak became painful. We chose the first site we looked at. Beloved remarked that he had known when we walked in it the first time that it was the one. Yeah, rub it in.
Then we moved on to bridesmaid dresses. Despite the fact it was the only thing on my mind, turns out my bridesmaids thought about a lot of things. None of which were whether crepe or chiffon would look better, what color would look best by candle light and should we pick out shoes or just decorate some canvas sneakers. One has stopped returning my calls regarding ballet slippers, dress length and empire waists.
Last week, I went on my tirade about DJís. I was convinced that each DJ secretly stashed copies of the 'Electric Slide' in his boxers to pull out when I wasnít looking. I knew that if I didnít watch carefully, Iíd have a reception of the 'Chicken Dance', 'Hokie Pokie'and 'Macarena' on endless rotation. My worrying became epic and very profitable to the makers of Maalox. Yes, I had reached the third stage of control freak: I was making myself sick.
Luckily, I was able to get help. Namely, my college roommate telling me that I was driving her crazy and to stop whining. I took a long look at myself. And I hit bottom. I had to admit to myself that I was a control freak.
Some little known fact about control freaks. Itís not that weíre so self-confident that we believe weíre always right. Instead, weíre paranoid. Weíre convinced that no one has our best interests at heart and should we ever let down on our vigilance, weíd find ourselves homeless, friendless and sniffing glue. As a control freak, I gave lists to people of what I wanted for my birthday, what flowers I liked and what restaurants were my favorites. I was unsure that they would do it otherwise. And when it came to wedding planning, I knew no one could do it like I would. They would choose florists who would use mums and carnations. The caterer would serve day old seafood on e-coli toast. The readers would pick their own and Iíd have excerpts from a Stephen King novel.
This, of course, will not happen. I have taken the first step to letting go. I assigned Beloved to deal with music -- all the music. My bridesmaids are picking their own dresses. And my mom is helping with the catering.
Rather than getting angry that no one is helping, Iím feeling relaxed for the first time since I got engaged. Every time I start to worry, I state my mantra of the wedding 'At the end of the evening, all the guests will be too drunk to care.' Sure, itís not the serenity prayer, but it works.
Written by: Jennifer Lofquist, Reston, VA, USA