Hanging by My Fingernails


“Broken Wagon Wheel” by Kevin Kasper via PublicDomainPictures.net, Public Domain.

Before I had the courage to let go of my whole way of living, two inner images rose up in my mind as symbols of my controlling behavior.

When my family was still young and I had only seven children from twelve years old down to a newborn, I earnestly strove to raise the best children I could. Yet all my effort was actually hindering their development because my anxiety and control acted like a barrier, a prison around them. I was, in fact, preventing my children’s inner, natural development into well-balanced, creative people.

I did not take subtle hints, so a powerful inner image rose up from my subconscious which symbolized what I was actually doing by refusing to let go of control.

First I saw an ocean and a tiny black dot in the water. Slowly the image grew larger till I was face to face with a huge octopus.

The scene switched and now seven tentacles wrapped around each of my children with my husband in the eighth. All of them were grey, limp, almost lifeless.

I suddenly realized that I was, in fact, the octopus; I was squeezing the life out of my family.

In this inner vision, a sword appeared in a blaze of light and severed each tentacle one by one. The severed tentacle shriveled and fell off each child. As soon as each one was set free, they began dancing and laughing in the sunshine. Soon all seven were joyfully playing.

The eighth tentacle was wrapped tightly around my husband. The kids stopped playing and kneeled on the ground, weeping, desperately pulling and tugging the tentacle but to no avail. Suddenly, in a flash of light, the sword of truth cut through the tentacle, and my husband was released and came back to life.

Yet even after this appalling self-revelation, I still could not let go of control.

It was like I stood on the hub of a wagon wheel with my large family balanced on the rim. I crouched on the hub, frantically turning this way and that, grabbing all the broken spokes, desperate to hold the crumbling structure together.

I realized that I had to let go of this futile sense of responsibility and control but I was afraid to stop, afraid that one moment of inattention would cause my entire family to tumble down into the abyss.

I was trapped.

Yet, I realized that once again, my tension, my control acted like a wall, shutting out all life. My sincere concern and earnest self-sacrifice actually magnified everyone’s brokenness by freezing everyone and everything.

It took years, but I finally surrendered control. The broken spokes were instantly repaired. The kids and my husband started smiling. I was free. We were free.

I read a quote that said the worst sin against another human being beside hate and murder is trying to control and manipulate them because you are stealing their real identity, molding them into a false image. Sometimes we just need to “let go” of the things that we worry about (i.e. our children, loved ones, or family members). When we are able to do that, we (and the people we care about) can then truly experience the freedom of living!

Copyright 2015 Melanie Jean Juneau
Image: “Broken Wagon Wheel” by Kevin Kasper via PublicDomainPictures.net, Public Domain.


About Author

Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, the Editor in Chief at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.


  1. This is me! My control and anxiety is ruining everything. We have 4 small children and our home is not a fun place to be. How do I let go?? How did you do it?

  2. ah, there is the crunch.

    Of course, You have taken surmounted the biggest stumbling block which is seeing and admitting our anxiety and resulting control.

    Next step we pray, even if saying the words sounds phony…God will take us at our word. Something like,” Lord, I can’t seem to let go of my fearful control. I CHOOSE to place my kids in your hands. Heal me, grant me the gift of trust in you. AND forgive me for stealing your job; for trying to save my kids; for not trusting in you to be the Lord of our family in reality, in our day to day life.

    Then I sought advice, guidance, spiritual direction, confession , counselling to unearth the issues within that prevented me from walking as a loving child of God and from loving my kids the way God needed me to love them

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