Someone very wise once said, 'No no, no no, no no, no no, no no, no no, there's no limit. I don't doubt that this is true but this week I learned that whilst there may be no limit perhaps there is a limit to my no's.
Last week I wrote about letting joy into my life and it left me all geared up for it but sadly there just wasn't enough space for all the joyfulness, to let stuff in you've got to be willing to let stuff go and that's why this week was all about saying no - saying no to the thankless tasks and to any expectations that aren't my own.
I have a complicated relationship with no. I don't like hearing it, in fact it makes me feel a little queasy. I'm not a (complete) diva, it's just for some reason when I hear no, I don't just hear no to that thing we happen to be talking about. I hear no to you and your face and everything you stand for. I suppose because this is my experience, I find it incredibly hard to say no to others believing it to be incredibly unkind, even though it's very likely the recipient barely notices.
My first no of the week was quite a big one because it was a no, not just for me but for my son as well. He had been offered some playwork sessions through our very wonderful health visitor but by the time they had come round I knew that with all the activities we had scheduled it would just be too much. It would mean hacking out a big chunk of the afternoon that we go to our playgroup and catch up friends. Fearful of looking a gift horse in the mouth I had initially said yes and then as the day crept closer my feelings of dread grew fiercer, until my committment to my mission forced me to cancel at the last minute. Of course that was probably far more annoying than if I'd said no in the first place but it was so exhilirating to believe that I knew what was best for my family and that I could protect it using only the power of refusal.
With my no muscle firmly exercised I was on refusal cruise control. I said no to going on a night out when I really needed sleep and no to a days work that I didn't have time to prepare for. I was feeling fab! This is what being a grown up lady was all about! Of course then things got complicated. I was asked to stay a few more hours at work and I knew I had to say no but I really wanted to say yes because I wanted to feel like a valued member of the team, and then a friend needed my help and I wanted to say no because I wasn't sure that what they were asking was the best thing for them but instead I said a sort of half hearted maybe which didn't feel satisfying for anyone, and then my husband asked me to spend time with him and I had some pressing bloggy stuff to do and so I just hummed and hawed my head off, and then before I could make any firm decisions about anything, I was struck down by a ridiculously inconsiderate flu. Not one of those, I've got a bad cold but I want a bit more sympathy things but a proper, do nothing but sweat and hallucinate for 24 hours jobby; so obviously I had to say no to everything and that was no fun at all.
So I'm writing this in a Lucozade fuelled frenzy and my conclusion is that 'no' can be empowering and 'no' can be self preserving but too much 'no' is as bad as too little. 'No' is the seasoning in the sausage stew of life and next week I'm gonna try and work out how to perfect the recipe...
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