As a very young child I was clueless about power. Didn’t know what it was and didn’t know there was a need for it. As an older child I learned quick enough that there is such a thing as power. Older brothers had it. Parents had it. Teachers had it. Even the baby in the family had it. Being where I was I started to recognize power all around me. In many forms. And being wielded in many ways.
The parents had it and enforced it with chores and expectations. Making me do dishes for a family of ten was wielding a power that I swore I would take a stand against some day! And to this day I absolutely refuse to dry dishes. They will sit in the sink until they air dry. Take THAT!
The older brothers had it and wielded it not in ways to teach tasks or instill work ethics or discipline. They just had it and used it to throw crab apples harder, or take shot gun in the car even when you legally called dibs.
Teachers had it and used it to make us get smarter. Whether we wanted to or not.
The baby. She still uses it decades later.
I saw it and I recognized it. And just when I might have started to garner my own form of power…. it was unceremoniously ripped out of my life.
For a very long time I recognized power only in the faces of others. In the actions and control of others. In the wielding of it to do whatever it wanted. Without my permission. Without my consent. Without a care to who it was wielded upon. And without a second thought to what that wielded power wrought on the life of others.
I developed a very strong sense of unfairness. I saw there was cruelty. I saw that ‘power’ meant nothing good and was wrapped up in secrets, lies and darkness.
I discovered my own power.
And. It. Was. Fabulous.
My power was about breathing. And thinking for myself. And making decisions that I had control over, control in the making of.
I discovered that my power was internal. It resided in the emotions that lived within me. My power grew when I fully understood integrity. And when I practiced integrity. I say practice because no matter how much I try, I realize I am not as moral as I want to be. And I usually don’t recognize that until I do my personal inventories. So in personal inventories I discover my on going pursuit of learning, and learning is power.
So I’ve just lived the most empowered decade and a half of my life.
I learned to not let the powered actions of others determine the kind of person I was going to be.
I still had the ability. The power, a power, of me.
And then….I realized that the lessons I learned from childhood are not gone. They were not totally wrong or incorrect. There are those who do not just live in the memories of my childhood. They live still, today. With out a care to who it was wielded upon. And without a second thought to what that wielded power wrought on the life of others.
Within the span of minutes I felt my power shut down. An internal infrastructure of carefully and painfully built strengths-they shuddered. Strengths that I cultivated from a pile of rubble were creaking. I could hear the screeching of metal on metal as everything shifted.
And I felt fear. Fear that the reality of power as I initially knew it….was the real power.
Fear like I hadn’t known for years. Fear because I couldn’t change what was done. Fear because someone else had power. And that power inflicted on my life, changed my life. Without my consent. Without my permission. And without a care to what it did to me.
Cursing. Fist banging. Foot stomping. Anger.
There will always be power used and inflicted on others. There will always be those pursuing personal agendas in positions of power. There will always be those who do not care.
But one thing I have that I rediscovered-is my lesson learned. I do have power. My power is internal. It is used to build up. Not tear down. It is used to create. It is used to exist with others. My power is not a mighty weapon to wield. My power is an internal mode of determination, discipline and goodness.
And my power?
My power internal is never in the hands of someone else.