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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Weary (05/03/12)

TITLE: Atlas Has Left the Building
By Denene Humphrey


Atlas has Left the Building

I am a recovering control freak. When this personality flaw was initially revealed to me, I have to say that my first reaction was sadness. I would sigh and say, ďLord, I am already so messed up, and now youíre telling me about this!Ē You may also notice that I was a tad bit miffed. You see, I have spent the great majority of my life in pursuit of perfection within myself and all I survey. I have dedicated an enormous amount of time, effort and energy into making sure that everything in my life (and also in the lives of others around me) was Ďjust so.í Nothing in my life was allowed to be out of place or dirty. That included my hair, my eyebrows, all things makeup and clothing related, everything in my home, my family and my job. I lived by the well-known motto, ďA place for everything, and everything in its place.Ē PERFECT.

Itís said that the first step to recovery and making a life change is to acknowledge that you have a problem. Now, I must say that I didnít want to own this one so quickly because I couldnít see how being perfect could actually be an issue. Perfection is beautiful! No flaws. No imperfections. Perfection stands up to the most scrutinizing critique and comes out, for want of a better word, PERFECT. How could that be a bad thing? Well, hereís how. Constantly striving for faultlessness was almost killing me. I was a ball of stress, nervousness and anxiety, and those are just the emotional problems. Physically, I was tired all the time and the stress kept my lower back in pain. If it wasnít just right I spiraled downward into self-pity, anger, frustration and depression.

I was obsessed. I was a madwoman on the verge of collapse. It was my belief that I could solve any issue. I have often told family members that they couldnít make any decisions without me. They needed me to make choices for them, and I was ever ready to reign out advice and make the choices for them. I placed myself in charge of things that in no way concerned me. I forced people to celebrate birthdays. After my parents died, I was the one who said where and how the family holidays would be spent. In fear and desperation I worked with extreme zeal to make myself indispensable to others so they would have to depend on me. On the surface, I may have appeared to have had it all together. I looked calm, peaceful, well dressed and made up (remember the eyebrows!). Inside, though, I was like a simmering volcano waiting until all the variables were just right for me to explode.

Now, you may ask, where does Atlas fit into all this? For those who donít know Greek mythology, Atlas was one of the Titans Ė an immortal. He took part in a revolt against the Olympians, and Zeusí punishment for his crime was for him to hold up the heavens on his shoulders and bear the weight of them forever. Wow. What a startlingly accurate description for how I was living my life. I was under the false impression that I was the one who was holding all things together. Not only that, but I was actually proud of the fact that I, and everyone around me, thought I was capable of doing and handling everything. I was Atlas, with one glaring disparity; Atlas didnít want to hold up the world, but I did. How arrogant of me!

I know now that arrogance wasnít my only dilemma. Thinking I held the world together caused me to believe that I was God. In retrospect, I have to admit that I didnít set out with the goal of becoming a self-proclaimed deity. It happened through a series of wrong thought processes with the dominating thought that I could perfectly control and perfectly sustain my life and my own environment. I was wrong. I stated earlier that I am a recovering control freak. With Godís enduring love, faithfulness, mercy and incomparable patience I am on the road to health and wholeness. I have acknowledged my problem and am, moment by moment, learning to surrender and trust God. Plus, Iíve grown weary of carrying the heavens on my shoulders. Perfection and the responsibility of holding up the heavens are Godís jobs. Atlas has left the building.

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This article has been read 297 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Angela Coleman 05/10/12
I really enjoyed reading this. It was an apt description of a behavior we all are guilty of at times and told with humor. Great job!
Mildred Sheldon05/11/12
Your story hit many square between the eyes and the humor drew you into reading on. Very well written and thank you for sharing. God bless.
Nancy Sullivan 05/12/12
Your title says it all. We do overestimate our strength - and responsibilities. God loves us too much to place His job on our shoulders. Good job.
C D Swanson 05/12/12
A wealth of information bringing an important message to the core, while, delivering humor and entertainment to the entry.

Loved it. Thank you.

God Bless,

Ellen Carr 05/13/12
I really enjoyed this. And I admit that I relate a bit to the the control issue. You express it well.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/13/12
This is such a perfect description of how I used to be. I could relate with the MC so much.

My only suggestion is a tiny one. You used such marvelous words and descriptions that you didn't need the all caps or the exclamation points to prove your point. You did that with the words you chose.

This is such an original take on the topic. There is no doubt that striving for perfection can make one weary. The ending was perfect (no pun intended) But it is true how perfection can lead to a sense on arrogance. The truth of the matter is most control freaks get that way because they feel so out of control. You did an outstanding job with this piece. There have been some incredible entries in level two this week and you're right there with them.
Cheryl von Drehle05/17/12
I never have time to read all the entries, so I peruse for captivating titles. This certainly is one.... great metaphor of Atlas as the ultimate control freak.

I think this is a strong premise to pursue along the lines of "show, don't tell." For example, perhaps starting your story with a wild example of how your control freakness manifests itself.

I think your third paragraph is the strongest... examples, examples, examples! Again, the tie in with Atlas is excellent, but could also be stregthened with more of a "show" emphasis. Intriguing story though... good job!
C D Swanson 05/17/12
Congratulations. God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/17/12
Congratulations on your ribbon and for placing 11th overall! (So close!)