How Being Empowered Left Me Disempowered
The first half of my life was spent in a cloud of self-doubt, self-sabotage, and self-loathing. When I imagine what my energy looked like back then, I always visualize Pig Pen from the Peanuts, but rather than dirt, it’s just filthy energy. And that’s honestly how it felt.
That energy left me with no sense of self respect, or what respect looks like coming from others—so naturally, my love relationships were toxic and abusive. I treated my body like a garbage disposal –– stuffed with food, heavy alcohol and drug use. I did not value my time. I wouldn’t know disempowering or misogynistic language if it hit me upside the head. Looking back, I’m honestly floored at what I accepted into my life as normal, the rules that I set as acceptable; how I allowed, not only others to treat me, but how I treated myself.
So I embarked on this intense journey toward self-empowerment. Resetting those rules I had been living by and not allowing for any compromises in how my energy was spent or who it was spent on. I shifted from one extreme to another, almost making me unrecognizable, not only to others, but myself. My past self became a stranger. Who was that girl? What was wrong with her that she allowed the shit that she did? Present Brittany would NEVER put up with that!
Those reflections continued to validate my journey—encouraging me to continue working on my empowerment levels and reshaping my existence.
Spending time on my personal spiritual growth; meditation, approaching life’s experiences without judgment, connecting to my higher self and my higher power, seeing the universal connection in any and all things, following my intuition, as opposed to my analytical mind, doing what filled my soul and not the life others wanted me to live, including leaving a corporate paycheck and opening a psychic and spiritual healing center.
Treating my mental health with the same level of importance as my physical health; getting into therapy, taking the time to process my experiences, honoring my emotions for what they were, giving myself space to be human, cutting cords with those who were toxic, including an abusive relationship.
Respecting my human shell, the only one I am given in this lifetime; filling it with nutrients and medicine from the earth, not pumping it with chemicals and harmful foods that I accepted as “okay” just because everyone else ate it.
Naturally, when you start to do these things and others see how drastically different your life is, how positive and passion filled your life is, they want to take little bits and implement them into their own lives – which is AMAZING (I love a positive domino effect and the way we influence one another). I also started to notice that the more grounded I became in this life and the more empowered I was (and that people could sense), that more people trusted in me for guidance, advice, and clarity. Granted, that did become my job, so obviously I would be doing this on a daily basis.
But it trickled … no, monsooned, into my personal life. It wasn’t just my clients who came to me to find empowerment and general life advice, but friends and family, too.
I became the go to person.
Brittany will know the answer. Brittany will fix this. Brittany can handle it.
Forget going to Ask Jeeves for answers (am I aging myself?), people had Ask Brittany at their fingertips.
At first, I relished in this. Brittany, the girl who’s mouth always got her in trouble, who’s dad got calls from the cops on multiple occasions discussing the shenanigans she had gotten into … yet again, who was expected to be sitting on bar stools at local bars, loud, obnoxious, zero f***s to give, who’s attitude was not seen as fun and quirky, but aggressive and rudely over the top, who was riddled with anxiety and couldn’t get out of her own way, who made careless financial decisions that got $30,000 stolen from her by her own stepdad, who was more often than not seen as a “hot, HOT mess,” was now the girl that people were coming to for ADVICE. To FIX things. To HANDLE other people’s shit. To orchestrate vacations, and organize parties/events, and heal friends’ broken hearts, and get everyone’s career directions in order, and book their doctors’ appointments, and …
And Do. Everything. and be there. for everyone.
And suddenly, this strong, grounded level of empowerment I carried slowly but surely became disempowered.
I did such a good job at becoming empowered, so good that other people saw it and sensed it and trusted in my ability to handle the world, that it set me into a backwards tailspin.
I didn’t even recognize it at first. Never mind at first, I didn’t recognize it for probably 2-3 years, if I’m being honest. Probably even longer than that.
Because guys/gals, I LOVED being the go to person. It was the most in-my-face validation that I. Had. Changed. That I. Had. Arrived. That I, Brittany, had FINALLY become the girl that had her shit together and was well-respected and trusted enough that people cared to hear what I had to say. Psh, not only hear what I had to say, but literally hand their issues off to me to fix and bring back without even checking in if I needed help or was having any issues because OF COURSE NOT. Why would an empowered, has-all-her-shit-together-girl have any issues?!
Boy was I mistaken.
And frankly, I lost myself in this. For quite a while I didn’t know what it was that was making me feel so disconnected from myself, either.
Know when I figured it out?
When I was on vacation last month.
Ah, vacation. This anticipated time to just unplug, relax, unwind, enjoy. Should be great, right?
“LOL,” she typed with a smirk on her face.
I thought so, too, so don’t feel bad.
My family and I took a cruise to Bermuda.
The planning fell on me.
The orchestrating fell on me.
Where will we park, how will we get there, what time should we get there, what should we pack, what room should we get, etc. … fell on me.
Then we were on the boat.
What time should we get dinner? What restaurant? What time should we get breakfast?
What should we do today? And everyone would turn and look at me. To answer. Because I always have the answer.
And no one else realized it. Shoot, they probably still don’t, because this is a ME situation, not a them situation, and I don’t need to go starting uncomfortable conversations when this begins and ends with my responses and how I handle the situations.
But I realized it.
I realized in those moments that not only did people look to me for everything, but that for so long, I literally have had no one that I turned to for those answers. And I realized that I spent A LOT of my time working on everyone else’s’ time and “stuff,” and very little on my own.
So I broke down.
I literally stormed to my room and burst out crying. Day 1. Because HOLY SHIT, how have I not realized just how much people DEPEND on me?!
And how TRULY, TRULY exhausting that is.
But it’s a seed I planted and it’s a seed I continued to water rather than pluck right there from its place in the dirt. So I can’t complain. I can only act.
So I decided right then and there that other people’s issues were their issues. Figuring shit out like where to go to dinner was NOT my freaking problem. Figuring out how someone else should spend their time was ALSO not my freaking problem. Know what I wanted to work on? What I wanted to eat and how I wanted to spend my time.
I bet this may sound whiny to some of you. I also bet that some of you are thinking, “what’s the big deal if people want your help asking where to go for dinner, what to do about x, y, z … I mean, your friends, right? Isn’t that what friends do?”
There is a HUGE difference between giving advice and living for someone else.
There is a HUGE difference between pointing and hand holding.
And when we start DOING for others regularly and not giving them the space to figure it out on their own, we are doing them a DISSERVICE in finding their OWN empowerment.
So NO. I don’t think that I’m a shitty friend or family member for telling people that some things are a “them” issue to figure out versus a “me” issue to help them with.
I also can’t play therapist or life facilitator for every single friend and family member PLUS my clients. It’s just not humanely possible without reaching burnout levels (which is now a diagnosis WOOWOO!) every week because there will simply be no time for me to refill and rejuvenate. Doing things like that leads us to behaviors like bursting into tears on a cruise vacation.
Now – important thing here. This does not mean I start telling people to “F OFF” when they come to me with a problem. I’m not heartless! This is about putting into perspective for not only myself, but for others, what we are capable of.
Are you capable of getting your own therapist and booking your own appointments? Yes. Yes you are.
Are you capable of choosing the restaurant? Yes, yes you are.
Are you capable of figuring out what size U-Haul to get for a move? Yes. Yes you are.
Are you capable of looking up what time a cruise ship leaves a port? Yes, by golly, you are!
Are you capable of calling an event space to book an event? Sure are!
The list goes on and on.
If they don’t do it out of fear or lack of motivation when they need to, but won’t and are just depending on me to figure it out – well, that’s a them problem. Not a me problem.
Am I here to give some advice but not DO FOR you? Absolutely!
But when you are in a position of empowerment, and others grow to depend on you (which says a lot about you – so good on you!), but you start to take on all of their responsibilities and the things they should be held accountable for, or at the VERY LEAST, could figure out on their own – you lose that empowerment. Because too much get taken from you. And it really, truly starts to add up.
I literally will say to people now, “well that sounds like a you situation that I know you can handle. I trust you’ll do a great job!” and leave it at that.
Because no. I’m just, done. And it’s OKAY to be done with having to do all those little extra things people expect you to do!
I’m back on this path of doing for myself again (and others still, but it’s a CONSCIOUS and MINDFUL decision) and also, if its only energy coming toward me, that puts me in an imbalance in a totally opposing direction, too!
For me, this was a tough wake up call. I thought it was a really empowering thing to be seen as the go-to person, but I was doing it ALL. WRONG.
Had I chosen to not take on everyone else’s life as my own responsibility and left space for them to grow on their own, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.
But creating that space actually leaves us with MORE space to help where we are truly needed because we’re not so exhausted and resentful with all the smaller things we have added on top of our plate.
It’s not just about the art of saying no, it’s about empowering others to figure it out on their own and actually becoming the person they see in you. And that is a BEAUTIFUL thing to do. THAT is a GIFT.
In the moment it may feel like we are giving a gift of love and aid, but the reality is, what we don’t allow them to water, dies. They don’t grow. They stay stagnant.
And I refuse to allow that anymore for both of our sake.
That’s my message for you tonight—in how being SO empowered left me unempowered; just as stripped as I had been before, but in other ways.
What a beautiful reminder for me from the universe that life truly is about balance in ALL things no matter what it is.
I hope whoever this needed to find, found it. And I wish you lots of growth and awareness on this journey we call life!