I know a lot of words. I’ve always been a voracious reader, which has indubitably proliferated my vocabulary….
Anyway! I don’t actually write like that.
Point is, my vocabulary is ginormous.
But there is one word that is more beautiful than all the rest combined.
One monosyllabic word.
A word with only two letters.
No is the most wonderful word in the English language, to me.
No sets boundaries, it keeps people from emotionally running over each other.
No allows dissent, it prevents people from being forced to think the same way.
But here’s the thing about No. It is really hard to say, especially for people who are used to giving everything they have to anyone who asks.
I’ve only recently discovered the beauty of no. People aren’t entitled to my yes. I don’t have to say yes just because someone asks me for something. Saying yes blindly and without regard for my own needs and desires breeds resentment.
I recognized some dangerous resentment building up inside of me, so I stepped away from certain volunteer roles at church. I felt taken advantage of, and some of that blame lands on me for never establishing a no.
I’m also starting to recognize my lack of boundaries elsewhere. Reading the book Boundaries opened my eyes to some of my self-destructive behavior.
I already had a firm grasp on my weakness surrounding saying no, and I also learned that I have a hard time respecting other people’s no. This tendency is completely duplicitous.
I’m affronted when people ask me to do things and I feel like I can’t say no, but when I ask someone for something, and they say no, I sometimes become angry and vicious.
Another monumental lesson I learned from Boundaries is I don’t know when to say yes, either.
Here’s an example:
Several weeks ago, I randomly had the desire to go out with some friends for my birthday. I’d never had that desire the previous twenty-six years of my existence. I’ve never made a big deal out of my birthday.
I was dumb, and I shared this desire with one of my friends. As my birthday approached, she convinced me to invite people out for my birthday. I decided where and what time, but she took care of inviting people. I gave her a short list of who I wanted to invite.
My birthday fell on a Friday this year, which made having dinner on my birthday super easy.
The day before my birthday was great. I was energetic and funny, and I was under control and I wasn’t hypomanic. I was content and joyful, and I didn’t have any irritability running under the surface. I was looking forward to dinner the next evening.
Then Friday hit. And a mood came with it. A very despondent and self-loathing mood. I was having suicidal thoughts, and I felt asocial. I dreaded my birthday dinner.
It was too late to back out, so I just sucked it up and went.
Four of my friends came, and we had a good time. It felt so weird—and honestly wrong—to be the center of a celebration.
It felt foreign.
I mean, these people must like me on some level to want to have dinner with me, and I had a hard time fathoming why they were willing to spend an evening with me.
Then I read Boundaries. My boundaries are so messed up, I cannot say yes to love when it hits me in the face. I keep all the bad (resentment) in by not saying no, and I keep all the good (love) out by not saying yes.
I’m not sure why my boundaries are so wonky, but I’m working on remedying the issue.
Saying no takes practice and training. My no muscles are underdeveloped and weak. As I build those muscles, I’m also going to exercise my yes and establishing boundaries in other areas of my life.
I know all of these things in my head, but saying no with conviction is still a challenge.
Curling up in a fetal position and accepting the resentment inherent in not having boundaries isn’t much of an existence.
Finding my no and my voice is a challenge I’m willing to face head on because I choose life.