No is an Answer that Requires No Explanation

The past week or so have been a great mixture of success and failure. I have succeeded in figuring out some of the things that I tell myself that hold me back. I succeeded in understanding my power in this world. I succeeded in surrendering many of my issues and allowing myself to be guided through the lessons of my life to resolve them. I even had a few epiphanies for what my purpose may be and how to create a career that may make me happy. And, I have made peace with the possibility that I could choose incorrectly and have to start over. I am willing to fail before I succeed if that is what is necessary. I, no longer, fear success or failure. This a huge breakthrough for a perfectionist.

As typical for me, I have to career stuff all figured out and I’m clear on what direction to take. Where I continue to fail is in my relationships to other people? I’m a good friend, but I wouldn’t characterize myself as a great friend. I have a tendency to be distant. I admit it. It’s not because I don’t love people, but I have spent my whole life catering to other people’s needs and wants while feeling I had no power. The past few years, I have spent time building up my ability to tap into my feelings and figure out when I need to take care of myself. I have done that very well with friends and family. Maybe a bit too well, because no one wants to bother me.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”- e. e. Cummings

One powerful thing I learned was during a visit to the Oprah Show. I was fortunate to have a friend that got tickets and I was able to experience the show.  After the show, they taped an additional segment for Oprah’s radio show. They allowed people in the audience to ask Oprah questions. A woman asked a question to Oprah and I always remembered her response. I am paraphrasing. She said that someone asked her to do something that she clearly didn’t want to. She was complaining to Stedman that she didn’t want to do it and she was frustrated that she had been asked.  Stedman said to her, “Why are you pretending to be nice?” Oprah said that she looked back at him and said, “But, I am nice. I’m a nice person.”  Stedman said, “No, you’re not. You’re pretending to be nice. You should have said no. No is an acceptable answer.” Oprah talked about how she realized that No is an answer by itself. There is no explanation required. The explanation is that you don’t want to do it. She talked about how it is better to say no than to say yes and be mad at the person for it.

I took that lesson to heart. I realized that I am not a nice person. I’m nice enough, but I am not so nice that I can be used up or walked all over without it hurting. So, I say no. I say no to protect, not myself but, my friendships and relationships. If I say yes all the time, it raises my expectations to where I will expect that you will give back the same. This can be destructive because the relationships has been built on this person expecting me to say yes all the time. The other person is not prepared to give back because I have never asked for it.  My change of heart did lead to some hurt feelings and, even arguments, but it was worth it. I still have the people I truly care about it, because they care enough about me to understand my needs and compromise.

Where I have always failed at this is in romantic relationships. I have abandonment issues. While it was easy to tell friends and family that I am not going to do something, there is more fear attached in my romantic relationships. I am always afraid that the other person would stop loving me or get mad and leave. I never looked at it as using it as a barometer for the possible progression of the relationship. I just wanted to be loved. I sacrificed my needs and allowed them to be ignored. After some time, I would find myself feeling like I was doing everything and getting very little in return. When I talked to other women around me, they would tell me to accept it, because after you have kids you will become invisible. I was told that I should take care of whatever I need in the relationship if I want to be happy. My mind has been rejecting that notion. I have to take care of his needs, the kids needs and my own needs too. One plus one equals two, right? This doesn’t sound like balance. I haven’t yet figured out how to resolve this in my mind, so if anyone has advice please comment. The resolution sounds like if I take off my plate the things that I really don’t want to do, then I can take more time to devote to the things I enjoy. I’m going to keep working on this one and see if I can get it to the point of acceptance and understanding.

If someone else is unwilling to fulfill my needs in the relationship, I have to see it as a barometer for the progress of the relationship. The response of the other women makes me think. If I can’t get it before the children come, then it will be impossible after we are both focused on the  children. I believe that you have to create priorities in your relationship and commit to them. If my priorities are mine alone then I either have to decide that I don’t need it or decide that it’s a deal-breaker. Either way, it is my decision to figure out what I want. It’s my relationship to self that has to be consulted to figure out what I can and can’t handle. When you ride on an airplane, they instruct you to put your mask on first before you help anyone else. I am finally ready to put my mask on and enjoy the ride. I’m no longer lost in believing that I have to give you my soul to get your heart