The art of saying NO. The grace of accepting NO.
Oh man. What a loaded word that No is. I remember when my first born was a toddler and she said her first No to me. That big fat, forceful, stomp her foot, clench her little fists and firmly stated...NO! I laughed. It was beyond adorable. Then I made her do the task anyways.
What a terrible young mom I was then, I didn't even share a shred of respect for her No.
Today I am feeling the weight of that word. No.
I had to say it to my boss yesterday when he called to see if I could handle 15 driveways. (I am a landscaper, that means shovel to pavement in our northern little city... in other words, a shit tonne of snow.) He responded with a mild threat. Apparently ignoring me like I did my toddler is not effective in the adult world.
Let me give you some background..... I have been off work since September and I am due back end of December. I am bored and do want to go back to work. But.
I am on the mend from a major workaholic burn out. I have never been able to say no to my boss. I not only Love working for his company but I adore his philosophies of life and all that he has taught and gifted me in the years I have worked for him.
So to say No now was very hard for me and for him to retaliate even tougher.
I need to learn to take care of myself. Self care has been a huge lesson for me these past few years of recovery. Being my own hero, my own Princess in shining armor to rescue me. Standing up for my needs and even pushing for them to be met has been an extreme challenge for me.
I cant say No.
I never realized in the past that I was one of 'those' women that couldn't say no when asked to do something for others. I never had a problem with telling my girlfriends No when they wanted me to pitch in for a party or function thing, if it is something I couldn't or didn't even want to do. That was never an issue for me.
That was always the example I heard given when someone explained a people pleaser or the woman who can never say No. The woman that was always stretched so thin because she couldn't say no to social engagements. So I never identified with lacking that ability.
I definitely lack the ability to say No. I have now learned.
The first time I had to say 'it' was last winter. A dear friend was in need and I was deathly ill with bronchitis. I was so sick that when she called to ask her favor I just blurted the word No and didn't even share with her how sick I was. She was mad and we didn't speak for a long time and truly our friendship is still strained today.
I was not graceful in my delivery of my first No.
Over the course of the Summer I just kept getting more tired and more burnt out. I did approach my boss a couple times but there was nothing to be done, I was the only one that could do the job he had me doing. So I just kept plugging along. With no time off, no holidays in over a year and an average of twelve hour days almost six days a week. We were always short staffed. There was always something.
.......Eventually I broke. Hooked back on drugs and sitting paranoid in my work truck unable to carry out the duties he was paying me for.
Thats when I went to him and told him with huge tears and a shaky voice that I needed to check into detox. Having struggled with drug addiction himself in the past he could relate and the leave granted without issue. While in detox I begged God to work out some more time off for me because I knew five days was not going to be enough time for me to get clean and unburnt out.
Thats where I sit today, just coming back into my power after it being entirely drained early last winter. From not being able to say No.
So when my boss called yesterday to ask if I could take on this huge contract which is actually larger then the one that burnt me out last winter I had to question him..... get this, I didn't even say No... couldn't still, .... after all this crash I still struggle with saying No to my boss.
You have to understand I am a single mother, single after seventeen years of having a man to fall back onto if a job of mine fell through. I also live in a city that is male oriented and rents are ridiculously high. I need to make good money just to live. My boss holds tremendous power over my livelihood.
I just questioned how doing these driveways would affect my sick leave benefits. We both knew that I couldn't legally do the work for him and still be off recovering. He then fired a nasty statement of maybe not having any work for me in January when I come back. I know he was just frustrated but still its shit like that, that make it hard for one to say no to people. My dear friend did the same dripping with a venomous voice when I said no to her as well.
It is very hard to take care of one self and say No when we need to. I have bent over backward for my Boss and truly enjoy working hard for him and making him money. So when I know that my refusal is actually costing him money it is doubly difficult. But I have to remind myself of this past summer and all the money and reputation damage I was costing him by going to work exhausted.
The old school theory of taking care of others before yourself is quickly flying out the window for me. What was once thought of as selfish to put ones needs above another is quickly becoming a ridiculous concept. I was more destructive not only to my job, my boss and my kids but also myself when I was putting my jobs needs above my own.
I am amazed at how much I love making my girls lunches for school and work. I have time and energy for that while being off taking care of myself. I love baking muffins. I even made cheesecake the other day that was so good I almost had tears in my eyes from my own self pride. Self pride that was once a dirty thought. I cook meals for my family and feel so damn good about caring for my girls. I can only care for them in this way because I am taking care of myself.
When my boss poked in frustration. I freaked out. I have printed off a bunch of resumes and was about to send out the Calvary to dispense of them. My reactions still apparently need work.
Last night my youngest daughter wanted money for a gift exchange at her school next week and I had to say No for the second time yesterday. She was angry. I had to explain that with me being off work Christmas was gonna be homemade this year. I felt twinges of anxiety at not being able to provide and thought of retracting my early Bosses No. But I held to my No in both cases and my daughter came out of her room a few minutes later with a brilliant gift idea that cost us nothing. I was proud of her. I was proud of me.
An hour after that my mother called with a question and before I even let her ask it. I jokingly said a big fat No. She launched into it had nothing to do with moving her, which we just did that past weekend, which I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience to exercise my body. I laughed and said I was just practicing my No. Offended she retorted ... Not with me you don't. I laughed inwardly at her defensiveness.
People equally hate being told No as much as they hate saying it. Maybe we all struggle with the giving and receiving of the dreaded NO word.
Well that at least makes me feel a bit better. I love coming to realize I am just like everyone else or others can relate to me. This world is such a huge scary place that even if one person can connect to what I am going through then it brightens up my world!! So here is too all the women that struggle with saying No.... take care of yourself above all others. And for those of us that struggle with receiving the No.... Compassion and Self Acceptance.