When Letting Go is the Only Way to Move Forward: #BehindtheBlogger

Today’s topic for the #BehindtheBlogger link up is “What Being Empowered Means to Me.” I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write on for this topic. I’m not even sure what I had in my head when I first signed up for it. But recently some things have happened that gave me a new take on the word ’empowered.’

em·pow·er
əmˈpou(ə)r/
verb
past tense: empowered; past participle: empowered
  1. give (someone) the authority or power to do something.
    “nobody was empowered to sign checks on her behalf”
    synonyms: authorize, entitle, permit, allow, license, sanction, warrant, commission, delegate,qualify, enable, equip

    “the act empowered police to arrest dissenters”
make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.
“movements to empower the poor”
synonyms: emancipate, unshackle, set free, liberate

“movements to empower the poor”

To empower someone to do something can mean a variety of things…you can be empowered in your job to make decisions, you can empower someone to do something on your behalf…or, in my case, you can empower yourself to remove the limitations you’ve been setting on your life. You see, for most of my life I’ve let others have power over me. First it was my dad; I always catered to his threats because I was afraid of the consequences of not doing what he wanted me to do. Then it was boyfriends; I was afraid that they would break up with me so I did what they wanted, even if it went against my wishes or thoughts. Lately though, it’s been “friends.”

I’m a “forever friend” kind of person. When I invest enough of my time and emotions into a friendship, I want it to last a lifetime. I want us to be close forever. Even though the logical part of me realizes that’s not entirely realistic, there’s a part of my heart that never let’s me let go easily when it’s clear that a friend doesn’t have the same level of commitment to a friendship as I do. This first happened with one of my oldest friends from high school. Even though she had more money and more free time than I did, I was always the one that would be coming to her and planning things with her. She rarely visited me in my city and she never made an effort to get to know my boyfriend. We had a huge argument about that back in 2014 and haven’t spoken since. It seems as if my lack of ability to empower myself to move on is happening again though.

quotes

One of my really good friends got married last year, and since then she has been backing away from the friendship slowly. At first, I figured it was just her being busy with wedding planning and life in general, but now it feels almost deliberate. Every time I’m in her town I make an effort to see her. I text or call her in advance with the dates I’m available and I make plans around her schedule. Likewise, when she will be close to my town (which is very rare because she never comes down this way), I always make sure I open my weekends for her and wait for her to contact me with the dates/times she’s available. In this way, I’m giving her power over my life and my schedule. I’m letting her dictate the terms of our friendship. I guess I’ve noticed for a while now, but just haven’t said anything or haven’t admitted it to myself, but our friendship is pretty one sided. I’m usually the one who’s calling or texting her and asking her to meet, and I’m usually the one who comes up to her neck of the woods to hang out.

Most recently, her husband had plans to come to my city for the weekend. I made it clear that I would be available on Saturday, as Sunday’s are typically busy days for me and I had a lot of other people making plans with me. I messaged him almost every day the week she was supposed to be coming down asking him what the plans were and when I could meet up with them. No response. That was a form of me empowering him to have control of my weekend- by not scheduling things I wanted to do with other people, I was giving up my power and relying on him to take control of the time we would be seeing each other. Unfortunately, this backfired on me because it turns out the “only time” he said they were available to see me was a day that I wasn’t available (Sunday). At first, I was angry about this. How could he be so selfish? He knew that the only day I was available was Saturday and yet he couldn’t even find a short hour of their time to arrange to see me that day? 

Finally after several back and forth messages, he arranged for me to meet them at a local restaurant. When I arrived there, imagine my surprise to find them with an entire entourage of people in tow. Of course, my friend didn’t know they were coming as this was a surprise for her, but it really made me feel like her husbands plans to exclude me were deliberate. And I can’t be sure of the conversation between them, but if it were me and I knew a close friend lived nearby, I would ask why that friend wasn’t included in the daily plans. Furthermore, he paid very little attention to me all night- not even asking me how I was doing- which further cemented my observation that he really didn’t want me there. 

What I realized is that I was empowering them to have control over my time. By being afraid I would miss out on hanging out with her, I inadvertently missed out on tons of other things I could have been doing. I deliberately didn’t schedule myself to go to a mud run that all of my friends were going to, and I deliberately told my boyfriend we couldn’t hang out on Saturday because I expected to see her. Really, this was my fault, not hers. I gave her that kind of power over me. But no more.

one sided relationship

I’m tired of being the one who always caves to others demands. I’m tired of being the one who reaches out again and again and gets rejected and hurt. I’m tired of cancelling plans with certain people and not making plans with other people because I’m afraid of missing out on a chance to hang out with people who clearly make me only an option, not a priority. What being empowered means to me is going on with my own life and to stop letting others have control of how I spend my time. Being considerate means being aware of others time and efforts in the relationship. So I’m finished catering to their needs- and the needs of anyone who chooses to take advantage of me like that. From now on, I’m going to schedule what I want to do like normal, and if others can join in the fun, they are more than welcome to. If they can’t, I’m not going to worry so much about it. This year, I’m 30, and it’s time to stop living my life for others, and start living it for myself.

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