Finally Taking Your Life Into Your Own Hands

Recovery |

In a way, recovery is all about regaining control. There’s a Janet Jackson album from 1986 that exemplifies what it means to take your life back into your own hands. What’s interesting about this album is that it’s not only the lyrics that are empowering and it’s not just the music that is inspiring, but Janet Jackson’s personal life and the changes she made to create the album are a testament to what it means to take back the reigns of your life.

Gaining Control

The album contains many popular songs but the song that started it all was the one with the same title as the album: Control. Listen to the lyrics of the song and you’ll hear autobiographical information about Jackson’s life. For instance, the first few lines of the song go like this:

This is a story about control,
My control
Control of what I say, control of what I do
And this time I’m gonna do it my way

‘Cause it’s all about control
And I’ve got lots of it

When I was seventeen, I did what people told me
Did what my father said, and let my mother mold me
But that was long ago

Making Changes in Your Personal Life

The song grew out of a series of changes that Jackson made in her personal life. First, she left a marriage to James DeBarge. She fired her father as business manager and instead hired A&M executive John McClain. She also removed herself from the rest of the Jackson family, whom she was frequently performing with earlier in her life. Lastly, not only did the album Control become a breakthrough hit, but it become one of the signature albums of the 1980’s, and it positioned Janet Jackson in the popular music market.  And all this arose because of the control that Jackson took in her life. The series of changes listed above led to how critics describe the album Control: as both an artistic feat as well as an experience for Janet Jackson of coming into her own power.

And this is precisely what we need to do in recovery. We need to take back our control. Sometimes, the steps you need to take in order to take back your control are very clear. You might need to sever some friendships. You may need to end a romantic relationship. You might need to quit your job if it’s affecting your ability to stay clean and sober. Or you might even need to end some of your family relationships if they are too destructive for your well being. Taking back your control might require making large changes in your life, such as it did for Janet Jackson.

And at the same time, it might require some small changes too. It might require thinking about what you need every day to stay sober. Some women need to take a long walk at the end of the day because that’s how they are fulfilled. Men might need to have some “cave” time. That might mean time in the garage working on the car. Or it might mean time at the gym working out. Whatever you need, taking back control is placing firm boundaries in your life so that you get some “you” time in your life.

Lastly, taking back the reigns of your life is creating your own treatment plan. Rather than having drug counselors tell you everything you need. Be sure to communicate the unique needs that are specific to you and your well being. Of course, it’s important to listen to the mental health professionals you’re working with. They want to see you get sober too! But they are not going to know everything about you. If you communicate what you need, it can be incorporated in your plan to get sober.

Let’s face it, during addiction, life wasn’t kind. It wasn’t easy. It was, in most cases, destructive and dangerous. Now it’s your turn. It’s time to be in control!


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