Untangling power and submission

Saipanhayden
5 min readOct 31, 2022
Photo by Josh Eckstein on Unsplash

It seems that I usually find the trail of breadcrumbs leading to my destination after I’ve already arrived. Oddly, something about that is comforting. Maybe because mostly, it seems we are bumbling through this life, and that feels terrifying to me. I like to think that purpose exists even when the journey seems random. Somehow the idea that there is an unconscious tapestry weaving its way through my life offers hope. Even if it is only my subconscious creating the links between events, or illuminating the breadcrumbs along the way.

My tapestry starts in a revival tent. My whole identity was spun around the idea that women, at their most powerful, were meant to be submissive. In fact, I was taught that in order for power to even be possible, submission was necessary. It was a tool I could wield to create the world I wanted. From the pulpit, I learned that the word “meek” meant “power under control,” like a bridled horse. A powerful and spirited horse, on its own, was dangerous but tamed and bridled it became useful. This spoke to me at a young age because my world seemed largely out of my control. I felt powerless in so many ways but envisioning my helplessness as submission helped me to regain some feeling of control. I made myself a servant to all, so I could be a master over my fear of harm. This conceptualization of power through submission, and therefore selflessness, manifested in odd ways. I befriended the underdog, dated people I thought were lonely, and generally just aimed to “nice” my way to security and safety. But it accomplished the opposite. I found myself entangled in friendships that did not nourish or uplift me. I dated men who needed comfort rather than partnership. I married a man I felt sorry for instead of a man I loved.

Obviously, it was a recipe for disaster. I was doing all I could to be selfless, believing it would produce the power to influence or control the actions of those around me, but it didn’t. It didn’t make anyone nicer to me or more conscious of my needs. It didn’t curb the abuse that I suffered in my marriage. In the end, I was just a girl in unsatisfying friendships, taxing relationships, and an abusive marriage. The concept of control was an illusion. I didn’t realize this all at once, but eventually, my old ideologies were challenged. I got divorced, lost my faith, went to school to pursue a career, and…

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Saipanhayden

I am an assistant principal at a small middle school. I care deeply about people and I like to find solutions if I can. Life is hard. Let's be kind