I have been thinking a lot about personal power lately, after playing the CSFH reunion show Rocket and I had a brief online discussion about it, and the anniversary of the day that our country took its own power back from England just passed, which reminded me of how our country's administration is currently obsessed with and abusing power.
I've been lucky enough in my life to have experienced a decent range of power--not huge amounts, but enough to have a frame of reference. I started out as a kid feeling extremely powerless against my peers, against what was happening with my parents, against my siblings and their problems, against my own hated small town surroundings. But I was determined enough to create certain kinds of outward personal power, although I wasn't conscious enough at the time to know that's what it was: Since beauty is power I stopped wearing thick glasses and figured out how to make myself look attractive. Then I pulled (or was it pushed my parents into funding??) myself into NYC and created the rock and roll life I wanted for myself, which gave me other kinds of power.
When things really got going with the Sluts I had all kinds of social power, which of course was abused on a regular basis. Not in any truly horrible kind of way, but definitely obnoxious with it. And I grew to really love the kind of power that comes with being in a happening band. The power to draw people to you, to be sought after, to say things and have people take them as gospel, to stand in front of large crowds and listen to them cheer their appreciation. It's pretty great.
But in retrospect I know that the feeling of power was coming from outside sources. Inside I still felt very small. I didn't trust that I deserved anything that I had: I was always convinced that I had somehow conned people into thinking I was beautiful. And, as happens when you have a group of women in a band together, we each got labeled a certain way, by outsiders and by ourselves, and because I didn't truly know who I was, I believed I was exactly who I was perceived to be. Which was, in my case, the sexy one who was interested in having a lot of guys around and didn't pay any attention to the business end. This suited me fine because, well, I wanted to be the sexy one with a lot of guys around (that gave me a feeling of power) and because the business meetings bored the hell out of me. And if I played dumb a little bit it made the other girls more comfortable with the guy factor. So I started buying my own act and stepped out of a lot of important decisions because I didn't feel qualified to make them. Those decisions still affect me financially today, I could kick myself, but I believed I had no brain for business and handed over my real internal power in order to maintain some peace and keep the outward power that came with being a member of the band.
So live and learn. After the band broke up I had some kind of death wish to get back to my teenage egghead roots, maybe to prove to myself that I had a brain. Without realizing it I sent out the intention to be a workhorse and the jobs followed suit: I managed Coney Island High and then managed a large printing and magazine company and then landed at Pat's doing her bookkeeping. It was a weird trail downwards into the opposite of the person I set out to be when I came to NY. I felt completely grey and small as I sat in a dirty office with an adding machine. I balanced checking accounts and did payroll and the people I worked with had NO IDEA that I had any kind of history outside of bookkeeping. And I never talked about it. When I saw myself in the mirror at work I felt unattractive and much older than I actually was. I chose a boyfriend who asserted his own personality and taste so aggressively that I forgot what I liked to listen to, what I wanted to see, or wear, or where I wanted to go. All my female friends that I got so much power and love from wandered off to have babies and go to bed at 9 pm. It was such a strange and lonely time, and even though it had a lot to do with losing a record deal and times changing, much of it was free choice, albeit unconscious. I just let go of all the social and creative power I once had and did a free fall.
Well, it sucked, as you can imagine, but I did find my way out of that gray place, gradually and then all of a sudden. Something in my brain clicked. It was actually pretty simple--I realized that if I went to one more movie or concert that I didn't want to see I was going to get homicidal. So I started saying no. I said no a lot. It felt great, I was like a toddler with her first word. I stopped calling the girlfriends that didn't want to go out anymore and started looking around for new ones. And I stopped taking it to heart when people at work pigeonholed me as a bookkeeper because I remembered inside myself that I was much more, whether they could see it or not.
So the lesson for me there was that the outward things began shifting once I shifted inside and made a decision that things had to change. The Universe handed me Drew, who is the most supportive person on the planet and thinks I am a petite flower rock and roll goddess and tells me daily. Sometimes I think he may be insane, but thank God for that kind of insanity. And the people I worked with figured out on their own that I was not your ordinary bookkeeper and started handing over all kinds of new and more glamorous responsibilities to me. And then, although I malign this website fairly often, I got on it and began connecting with people of like mind who took the place of old friends who had drifted away into the straight life.
Anyway, hoo-ha. This is not meant to be a rundown of my life, just a musing about personal power and I'm taking a very rambling route to get to the point. Which is--even though we don't always feel it, much of our power comes from within, and from the choices that we make that support the truth of what's within, and because of that we can create all kinds of different realities for ourselves.
My life came around full circle with the reunion show we played. It was such a lesson for me. I created that situation for myself because I realized I was missing the energy that comes with being onstage. I don't want to do it all the time, but I did put the intention out there (somewhat unconsciously) and the Universe sent it back pretty quickly. I chose to bring that energy back into my life, as I can see now that I chose to let it go years ago. And I was probably better onstage than before, because I am so much more centered into my own self now. I was much more able to connect with people, to feel happiness and to enjoy the power that the night gave me. I was able to take in and accept the love that people generously gave us, which I was never able to do when things were really happening. Back then I couldn't accept or trust that I had the power to create or choose or even enjoy the moment.
I can feel now that there is a quiet place inside that can create much of what we want if our intentions are clear. I'm not always totally sure of what the intentions are right away but I am no longer frantic about proving something to people or myself, or dampening my own power to make people feel comfortable. It's clear to me that this is where the real power lies. We are all extraordinary beings with more power than we realize, if we can just get out of our own way. And that is pretty cool.