"In many ways, we are taught from the time we are children to give away our power to others. When we were told to kiss and hug relatives or friends of the family when we didn’t want to, for example, we were learning to override our inner sense of knowing and our right to determine for ourselves what we want to do. This repression continued, most likely, in many experiences at school and in situations at work. At this point, we may not even know how to hold on to our power, because giving it away is so automatic and ingrained.
"To some degree, giving our energy to other people is simply part of the social contract, and we feel that we have to do it in order to survive. It is possible to exchange energy in a way that preserves our inner integrity and stability. This begins in a small way: by listening to the voice that continues to let us know what we want, no matter how many times we override its messages."
I came across this in my inbox today and suddenly I understood more clearly why not being listened to as kids, by being treated as if we’re joking when we’re not, why acting as if we can’t possibly know what we like and why, etc, is so infuriating. It’s obvious but I hadn’t been able to put it into words. When these things take place we get angry, not because we’re giving away our power, but because it’s being taken away from us. Maybe not deliberately, or maybe deliberately but unconsciously, but taken all the same. And it may take years to unlearn the repression we’ve learned and then we feel angry and guilty, maybe, and resent those who’ve caused us to feel this way.
I remember being away at college and finally having saved enough money to be able to buy a skirt and sweater. Not easy to do when you only make $200 a month before taxes and tuition and room and board have to come out of that, too. But getting the money together was only the first step. I had to figure out what I liked – and I didn’t know! Literally. I had no idea what color, what style, anything, I like. I’d never been allowed to choose my own clothing, almost never got anything new anyway, but wore hand-me-downs from my cousin, who was built nothing like I was, so I didn’t even know how clothes should fit. It seemed they were OK as long as they covered your nakedness.
I also remembered the one time I did get something new. It was not what I wanted and my power was usurped. My mother decided that for Easter I’d get a charcoal suit and wear a pink blouse with it. I didn’t like pink, especially pastel pink. Not too long ago I read that “there is no such thing as a pastel Scorpio,” and that quote fit me to perfection. Much better than a pastel pink blouse did. No matter how I protested that I didn’t like pink, that I didn’t want that blouse, my mother said, “But it looks so good on you!” and I got the damned pink blouse.
Somewhere I still have the picture of me in that suit and blouse. It’s in black and white but my body language says, “I am not here.” The picture of powerlessness. And I not only still don’t like pastel pink, I now hate it, and the very mention of it even sixty years later can tighten my stomach and make me feel sick. And it’s not the fault of the color pink. It’s being ignored, being told, wordlessly, that what you want and like doesn’t count, that YOU don’t count.
My energy level isn’t high any more even though I can buy any clothing I want in any color I want. My body has rebelled at the insults my energy has absorbed over the years and it has left me unable to do many of the things I want and always thought I would be able to do when I became my own person. But, over the years, I did develop more personal energy for a time. I rode horses, ran marathons, repaired my car, baked bread every week, kept a neat, clean house. None of that, now, of course. Sooner or later the body reminds you of the abuse it took in your name.
I still have the desire so all I lack is the energy and the physical ability. No matter what the condition of my body, all is not lost. I just have to figure out how to retrieve the power I’ve let go. I’ll figure it out.