I have a powerful friend, and no it’s not because she’s wealthy or well connected. I knew Rachel was powerful the day I met her. She has that cheeky, sharp, purple kind of power that some women have running through their veins.

She sat across the table at the little Russian restaurant where we were having dinner and radiated her power, beaming it at me like some kind of 40s movie star. Her boyfriend (at the time) sat next to her, doing his best to dominate the conversation. And Rachel just let him try, such was her assurance in her power of connection.

She is still learning to lean into her big power, this wild and wondrous star-witch. She’s admitted that she often can’t feel it, can’t access it. She wonders if it is even there.

I’m still learning to lean into my power as well, and I wonder if we ever tilt close enough that it becomes us? Some days I’m so nervous about the power I feel that I spoon ice cream into my mouth fast enough to hardly register the consumption. Soothing myself with dessert (it doesn’t work, but not for lack of effort). Holding the big pulsing in me at bay.

Food is my main cover for my power. Rachel has her own cover, I’m sure, and so does just about everyone I know. This hit me the other day while I was eating some cookies—yet again using food as energetic camouflage. I’m not eating these to feel better, I thought as I chewed on my next chocolate studded victim. I’m eating these cookies because I think the the big, good feeling in me might be too much, and I actually want to feel worse to dim it down.

Ah, the power saboteur.

Whenever I start feeling the big, uncontrolled feeling in me I get itchy. I think maybe I’m not big enough to hold it. Or that I’m not supposed to hold it, and instead it’s supposed to destroy everything like a kind of inside out tsunami.

The sticking point in all this is that I know this power comes from within me. I feel it like an electric snake at my center. Circumstances don’t create it. Nor does a good G&T. And it’s beyond sticky to feel threatened by something so inherent. Like flipping a switch and running a current of my own making that I’m pretty sure I can’t handle. I’m the mad scientist, the teenager, the debutante. Falling in love, fumbling, falling again.

Why is power so sticky, so messy?

Cookie crumbs and ice cream dribbles aside, I think I now sort of understand that the messiness is due to programming I’ve been plugging into my whole life long. This programming has got me feeling like an inadequate container, and not just because I am a woman.

The programming is systemic, subtle, pervasive. It’s in our consumer culture and in the words we heard from parents, mentors, our favorite teachers. It’s in our schools, our media and beloved entertainment channels, our churches, our sports camps. Everywhere. And it’s completely nondiscriminatory. You will be programmed if you are a human. This is a sure guarantee.

Stay small.

Be careful in the world.

Stay comfortable and don’t feel.

But in the times when I’m feeling that good, big power in me for no good reason, strong and open… well, in those moments I call bullshit on these programs so fast I can almost hear them shutting down.

I am vast.

I can feel everything.

I am excited by the promise of change.

The truly good news here is that our power isn’t a muscle. It doesn’t atrophy if we don’t use it. It gets no smaller and no less. Like the sun our power always IS. Always shining, always waiting. We cloud it over with our decisions to binge eat or stay in relationships too long, buy random bathroom products. Ignore the voices in us that guide. But it’s still there. It’s here, in me. In you.

And even if you go your whole life never feeling it, your power’s not going anywhere but deeper into you.

So, I figure I may as well start getting to know my power a little better. Give it some air between all the other laundry I’m flinging over the line. I’m starting to notice the small and not so small ways I try to squash it… starting to eat a little differently and whisper a new story to myself now and again.

I am vast …. I can feel everything… I am change.