I’m working on saying, “No,” as I struggle to keep my head above water with my current load of responsibilities. And I’ve been doing great! Sort of. It’s more not saying, “Yes,” than it is saying, “No,” but the end result is the same.
The first thing I had to do to develop this power (because I know we all struggle with it) is to look realistically at my life one week…two weeks…or a month in advance and ask myself, Can I handle anything else this month? And I mean really look at things. Do I have at least one (but ideally 2-3) week nights with NO obligations? Do I have hours to loaf on the weekends? Are there some mornings I won’t have to run? Because – here is what I’m trying to value: FREE TIME. So – I look into the future and get a gauge: Do I have enough free time?
And if the answer is, “No.” Well, then I should take on absolutely NO OTHER OBLIGATIONS.
But here’s the kicker: I have to decide that and then STICK TO IT. No matter WHAT arises.
And y’a’ll? That’s hard. Because it turns out a lot of stuff that seems small pops up a lot of times in our lives. Have you noticed that? Maybe you have and maybe you find yourself overwhelmed now, too. But here’s the thing: Small things still take up time. Even if it’s just one hour, one night. And when something small pops up, maybe it’s cooking a meal for a friend, maybe it’s organizing the snack schedule for a soccer team, maybe it’s a social gathering…you think, This is small! It will barely take an hour! Of course I can do that!
But then 3 hours of your free time that week – that you didn’t have enough – of ARE GONE.
And I’m retraining my brain: My free time is as important as a meeting with the boss. As a doctor appointment. Maybe even more-so. Because it turns out that when I’m GO! GO! GOING! – I emotionally collapse and panic attacks ensue. Free time in my week is necessary just like rest days are in my ultramarathon training. If I run 10 days in a row, I’m going to get injured. If I go several days without any free time, my brain gets injured.
So I say “No” to everything, even if it only takes an hour.
Well, like I said before, I don’t really say, “No.” I just simply don’t say, “Yes.” And it’s come up several times recently for several “small” things but I keep telling myself, No. You can’t do that, Kim. You are already teetering on the edge. Small things can push you over.
And so far, so good.
But – let’s get to what I keep repeating: I’m not saying, “No.” I’m simply not saying, “Yes.”
Like when the coach asked that someone just print up a game schedule so people could just sign up for snacks. I just looked the other way. Or when an email went out about a social gathering…I just ignored it.
Because here’s the crux: I don’t know the right way to say, “No.”
I’ve been the one recruiting volunteers and attendance before and hearing, “No,” is so difficult when you’re trying to get help with something. So I feel like I need to say, “No,” and then follow up with the nine million other things going on in my life keeping me from doing that one thing.
But I know what they’re thinking! Because I thought it too! It’s just one hour, jeezus. You can’t spare that for this important cause?
And then there’s the people who complain about how busy they are but they’re not really and it makes everyone roll their eyes. I DON’T WANT THEM TO ROLL THEIR EYES AT ME!
So I just ignore everyone and talk publicly about mental health hoping they’ll put 2 and 2 together.
But that’s shitty.
I need to find a way to say, “I’m not taking on any extra responsibilities right now, no matter how small, at least not until we sell the house and get settled into a new one.”
Because truthfully, that’s the biggest burden right now. The house.
And I need to tell myself that anyone who gets bitter or rolls their eyes at that is not a person I care about. Right? If they’re going to be an ass about things like that (like maybe I used to be?) then they’re not someone whose opinion should matter. RIGHT?
But it does matter and remember: I traced my difficulty in saying “No” to some unknown abandonment issues. WHAT IF THEY LEAVE ME? WHAT IF THEY ARE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE? WHAT IF THEY DON’T EVER ASK ME A FAVOR AGAIN? I NEED THEM TO NEED ME!
And man, that poor Zoot – the one scared of being abandoned by everyone who might be asking for her assistance? She’s hard to deal with.
So for now? I’m ignoring requests and not quite braving saying, “No.” But at least I’m not taking on any more responsibilities, right? That’s the end result that will give me more free time, so for now? I’ll take it.
But if you guys have any advice on ACTUALLY saying, “No,” I’d love to hear it. Ignoring people is kind of rude. 🙂