The Value In Disempowerment

by Chelsey Johnson  Nov 20, 2015
The Value In Disempowerment

I have this vivid memory from a few summers ago. I was crying, driving north on a wide mountain highway, with a teenage girl in my passenger seat. We had been bickering for a week (note: if you take an adolescent away from all of their friends, the internet, and cell reception, you may want to plan something to occupy them). Finally I cracked. My tears splashed down heated cheeks as I tried to keep the road from blurring. I sniffed and she was stunned soft.

"Why are you crying?"

"You both hate me."

Her father and I had been breaking up as long as we'd been together - 5 years or so at that point. This was a particularly painful one. I painted myself a martyr, selflessly bringing his daughter to commune with nature while he callously dated other women.

"Why are you even with him?" she asked.

I used to think that I could be something for someone else at my own expense. I was helping. Trying to be "good" for this makeshift family, a lonely little girl and her hard-knock father, saving them both from the hand they had been dealt. I wanted to bring warmth and light where things had been dark and cold.

But what was I doing? What was she seeing, feeling? It occurred to me then, I wasn't helping at all. I was teaching her about value, and not in the way I wanted.

For a long time, I knew intellectually that I needed to value myself. So I did things to become valuable. I was creative and resourceful, I was nurturing and idealistic. I produced and served. I added value to the world. Then, I would fall sick, or depressed. Or even worse, I would need help, and I'd have to work harder to make it up later.

This cycle went on and on. In that moment though, when she asked me why, I realized that what I was doing wasn't making me valuable - it was hurting us all.

I wanted to teach her to value herself. And here I was, showing her that a woman's value needed to be made. Trying to earn love through suffering, a disempowered toxic mimic of family. A twenty-something's version of "stay together for the kids."

I could hear inside, her woman was furious with me. 'Get up. GET UP. Get your shit together and stop using me as a reason not to.' Her communication was so clear. 'You are not doing this for me.'

I knew then, that I didn't actually value myself very much. I also knew that was the most important thing I could do for all my relationships - take back the responsibility for my value; unburden them with the task of giving me worth.

I didn't feel it then, I don't always feel it now. But, a few years later, I can confidently say that my value is innate. It isn't something I have to do anything to earn. In fact, I usually need to get out of the way for it to truly shine its brightest.

OM has taught me to stop efforting and be what I am. To offer only my surrender, and have that be something incredible. To feel deeply enough into myself that I know who I am regardless of the external landscape around me. To know I have everything I need, and that everyone else does too.

I don't know where she is now. I haven't checked up on her, in the years since our lives diverged. But I know she doesn't need me to make her feel valuable.

She has herself, and she is more than enough.