Entitled vs Empowered

The last few days I’ve been wallowing in the past a little bit. I have a new perspective now, so I don’t get lost there anymore. It’s still an emotional – I was going to use the word rollercoaster but that’s too fun of a word for how it feels to look back at your abusive past.

It’s like looking at those optical illusions that spins and spins into infinity, it fucks you up and makes you dizzy.

It comes in waves. Sometimes you’ll have a stray thought or a memory and you can bat it away, remind yourself you aren’t there anymore, and carry on. Other times you fall deep into the spiralling optical illusion and have to drag yourself back out.

Anyway, I was triggered by something recently and then spent a few days in the gutter. Like I said, I have a new perspective now. Once upon a time I always felt like this: low, numb, disconnected. It’s a stark contrast to feel this way again, now that I’ve started to feel joy, love, and peace. It really shows me how desperate my situation must have been and even I was oblivious to it.

Now, when I feel like this I can almost step back and assess my feelings in a way I was incapable of doing before. I can see that I’ve been triggered. I can name the feelings that I am having and remind myself that this is temporary. It’s like a depressive episode. I might not be able to snap straight out of it but I can slowly coax myself through, I can be gentle with myself, I can rest, I can tell others that I am struggling. All things I’ve never felt safe to do until recently.

You’re probably wondering what on earth the title has to do with what I’m talking about. I’m getting to that next.

During this episode, I got stuck in a bit of a loop reliving certain memories over and over. I won’t traumatise anyone else by repeating them here, but it was tough. Old feelings resurfaced, past trauma felt very present, and I was absolutely exhausted from it all.

My new perspective allowed me to eventually view those memories from a different angle. I found myself having an internal dialogue with myself, almost adopting the voice of my therapist on one side and soothing the traumatised young girl on the other.

One of the things that I always tell myself is that I would never let my children go through the things that I have, that I will protect them. I am protecting them from their father. But another question arises – how do I protect them from people like him when they are adults?

Another question – how do I prevent them from becoming like him?

The answer to that lies in my past. When I am stuck in those loops I can use my new perspective to see what was really going on beneath the bullshit. So that’s what I did this time.

As a victim, we often ask the question – why did he hurt me? And we will never get an answer to that, even if we think they have given us the answer to that, it’s not the real answer. Honestly? Answering that question doesn’t matter in the slightest to our healing either.

The question we should be asking is not – why did he hurt me? It’s – why did he think he had the right to hurt me?

All abusers believe they are ENTITLED to do what they do, say what they say, and hurt who they hurt. They believe they have a right to your body, your mind, and your soul. They even convince you that they have that right. You find yourself trying to justify having feelings and human needs that come before your abuser.

How dare you need to sleep when he wants to have sex?

You can’t have a sick day when there are children that need caring for and house that needs cleaning.

Don’t you dare shed a single tear or he’ll think you’re trying to manipulate him.

Every single time you try to meet your own needs before his he will punish you. Because he learned that’s how to control others.

Whether he is conscious of it or not he feels ENTITLED to control you.

Where does that come from? That’s the question I found myself asking this time. Where does an entitlement like that come from?

We all want to teach our children to be strong, we want them to advocate for themselves and their needs.

But I don’t want my kids to grow up feeling ENTITLED like this.

What I have realised is that there is a difference between DESERVE and EARN. No man deserves access to a woman’s body, he has to earn that right. No human being deserves the right to dictate how another human being feels or reacts, how they parent, what they watch, what they wear, who they talk to, when they sleep.

To my darling children, you don’t DESERVE anything in this world, but you can EARN anything as long as you approach it with goodness and heartfelt intent.

Instead of ENTITLED children, let’s raise EMPOWERED children. Let’s teach them that they have the power to be great, that connecting with other human beings comes from a place of consent and mutual respect. There is no ‘deserve’ when it comes to a relationship, or anything in this life.

I want my children to be strong enough to say ‘no’ when they want to, but also to accept ‘no’ as well. No means no. It doesn’t mean try again, convince me, or take it anyway. That’s the difference between empowered/educated and being an entitled little shit.

Entitled little shits grow up and hurt other people, and they don’t even realise they are doing it.

How do we teach this?

In our actions, of course. “Do as I say, not what I do” is outdated and damaging. Children copy what they are exposed to, you set the example for how they will grow to treat other people in your relationship with them. If you control them with fear and punishment then that is what they will repeat with others when they are older.

Children are human beings with real feelings, wants, and needs. Respect them, model the behaviour you want to see. It’s as simple as that. The parent who dictates a child’s feelings, the parent who feels they DESERVE respect and good behaviour simply because they are the grown up, and do not take the time to EARN and nurture that respect is at risk of raising an entitled little shit.

This is what I discovered on my most recent trip into my past. Instead of staying stuck there, instead of reliving those memories over and over I looked at him from a new perspective. I saw him not as the monster who repeatedly hurt me with no remorse, instead I saw him as a child who learned that manipulation was the only way to get what he wanted.

I hope that I have been able to verbalise this and do it justice because it has been a huge leap of understanding for me.

14 responses to “Entitled vs Empowered”

  1. This is a powerful and persuasive piece, Emma. Forgive me for being a bit tangential but I found myself thinking about the Will to Power shortly after reading it. And I found myself thinking about B F Skinner and operant conditioning and the issues around the use of positive and negative reward regimes. Problem is, we tend to use our own preferences to choose rewards and punishments and not always fully and accurately understand what they mean for the subject. So something we would enjoy may induce a perverse response in those with a high power drive – it thrills them to reject what seems to us an encouragement to behave in a certain way. So your gentle person centred approach to bringing children to maturity is ABSOLUTELY critical.
    These are top of mind thoughts so I do hope they make reasonable sense. I’m not entirely convinced that there is a Will to Power, but one thing is for sure, you certainly have given me plenty to think about and I thank you for that.
    DD

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    • PS
      I wish I had the capacity to readily assess my feelings and, for want of a better word manage them when something broad-sides me. I think it is brilliant that you can work through your initial response to triggers and bring your self back so quickly. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings and learning – for being a role model.
      Regards
      DD

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    • Thank you for your kind comments. I certainly didn’t set out to be any kind of role model. My goal is simply to speak honestly.
      It’s interesting that you mention Skinner and conditioning. Punishment is so regularly used in the upbringing of children without any in depth analysis of the long term effects. Do we really want to let our small people fester in feelings like resentment, shame and anger? I don’t have a huge understanding of Will to Power but it’s certainly on my TBR list now!
      I studied psychology in college years ago and I always think back to attachment theory when I am trying to explain certain aspects of my parenting style to those less versed in the idea of gentle parenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Emma. This is such a powerful piece. It really hit home for me. Although I only know you through blogging, I am so proud of you because you’ve come as far as you have in dealing with your earlier traumas. I needed to read this today. I’m so sorry you were exposed to abuse as I was, too. It’s something that should never, ever happen to a child or young person (or an adult). I respect how you have written this post in a sensitive and non-triggering way. I hope that, through therapy, I can get to a similar place to where you find yourself now. At the moment, I’m still very bogged down in the emotions and memories of my traumas. I’ve written a lot of recent very honest poetry on my blog about how I feel, but I hope you (and others) didn’t find this too triggering, although I fear you may have.

    I really like what you’ve written about raising young people to be ‘good’ adults and agree we should be encouraging our youngsters to be empowered and not be, in your words, entitled. Looking back at my life and the lives of my adult children, I wish I’d known then what I know now. It’s too late to turn the clock back to undo their subsequent traumas, but I’m still ‘teaching’ them to respect themselves and others and never think they’re entitled to control another person; nor that anyone else has the right to control them. I only wish I could have shown my abusive ex-husband your post before the damage was done. It’s never too late to learn. I’m still doing this and will continue to learn for as long as I live. Thank you for sharing so honestly, Bridgette. Thinking of you … Ellie xx 🦢💕🕊

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    • Emma, I am so, so sorry. I’ve just realised I addressed you as Bridgette at the end of my reply. I was in a blogging conversation with Bridgette a short while ago and mistakenly typed her name instead of yours. Please, forgive me. I feel awful about doing this. I’m so sorry. Ellie Xx

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  3. Thank you for sharing your post. It is beautifully written, and clearly understandable. I, to have a similar childhood memory. We have lived to tell our story. Many do not get to do this.

    Liked by 1 person

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