This morning I had my soul sister drop in for coffee. Her kids still sleeping, it was the perfect time for the two of us to curl up in our armchairs with a hot cup of Joe and catch up on our lives. The focus of the conversation was on me, as usual. Don’t get me wrong, my friend gets her time, but it seems when my kids are gone I get a lot of air time. At any rate, the conversation was about relationships. Somehow, we managed to spend the better part of an hour on this topic. It wasn’t until later in the day, after I’d closed up my work folder and popped the lid on a Twisted Tea that I began to reflect on our conversation.

My friend had referenced power several times. She was referring specifically to the personal power that each one of us carries which allows us to make decisions and control our own ship. Her concern was that I had a tendency, in her opinion, to sometimes give that power away in relationships. Not just in friendships, but also in romantic relationships. I listened to her comments, but honestly had no idea what the hell she was inferring. But, over the course of the day it sat in my head like a piece of uncooked corn that refused to pop. Finally, towards the end of the work-day, however, that kernel began to bounce around in my head a bit until it finally popped.

The fact is, she’s right. After five years in a destructive relationship, I am still too quick to give away my power and take a subservient role. For those of you who know me well, this is really hard to understand.  After all, I’m the woman who’s raised two children entirely on her own without the help of family, friends, or a husband. Something that I never really consider until I come across status updates from friends on Facebook who are whining because they’re   solo for a week or weekend while their significant other is away. This always makes me laugh, since I’ve never had anyone to lean on.

But, I’m straying from my point about personal power. I began to think about that and the little ways that I might give it away. And, I realized the first thing I do is I discount my own wants and needs for that other person. I put his needs in front of my own. In fact, I do so to the extent of being no longer able to identify what my own needs are anymore.  Which, really, is not only unhealthy, but if my significant other is a good guy drives him crazy because I am incapable of saying what I really want. So that’s my first way of giving away power, which I vow to change immediately.

The next way that I give away personal power is by giving. When I care about someone I give freely everything that I can to that person; from the little things like making meals, or giving back-rubs, to bigger things like gifts and doing thoughtful things for them. This is a great trait if it’s appreciated and reciprocated, however, when that’s taken for granted, then I’m just giving too much and I’m handing over my power with it. So, second note to self is to put the brakes on until I’m sure exactly what kind of man I’m dealing with.

One of the most damaging things I’ve ever done to myself in terms of giving away my power was in the sack. Yes, I’m talking about sex. I know, you’re aghast, but we’re all adults here. It’s true, I had a man tell me once not to use sex as power and I relented despite not being in the mood, being upset with him, or whatever other reason I really did not want to have sex at the time. I haven’t been to a psychiatrist to have them explain to me what this might have done to me, but I think it stole some of my beautiful spirit and robbed my core of valuable inner strength. So, that is a huge note to self – do not give in the sack, unless it’s what I want.

Which brings me to my final thought about the many ways I’ve given away my personal power, and that’s being a cheerleader. That’s right, a constant cheerleader for my man, even if deep-down I really don’t believe what I’m telling him. One of my best skills is to assess the average guy and attribute all kinds of unwarranted, positive traits to his character. Then, I’m great at telling him about those traits and cheering on his every move or attempt to move. Hell, I’m surprised I haven’t congratulated a man on how he got his ass off the couch to switch channels on the television. Yes, it is that bad. So, keeping a balanced perspective and being honest about a man’s positive and negative traits is something else I have to work on.

Really, all I’ve covered here is giving away personal power in a romantic relationship. Since my soul sister inferred that I’ve handed her my personal power at times in our friendship, I still have more to ponder. I’m puzzled by that comment, but it’s not nearly as interesting as thinking about how I’ve done that in my relationships with men.  Perhaps a second Twisted Tea will lead me to that subject, for now, I have enough to contemplate.