Just Say No….to Anything!

I recently offered to do a favor for a friend. It wasn’t a huge inconvenience to me and it axe part of her life much easier. She had been talking about being unable to attend one of her son’s functions because she needed a babysitter for the other one so I offered to watch her little one so she could go. Again, no big deal, wasn’t like I had a whole lot going on that particular day and I knew she would be thrilled. Which she was. But she asked me a question I have been asked many times when I’ve offered to do something nice for someone; “are you sure you aren’t just saying that it isn’t a problem?” And once again I wanted to say what I always want to say, “I don’t do that anymore.”I have social anxiety. It was pretty bad in high school and reached a point where I desperately needed a therapist’s guiding hand. My problem was that I was quick to become whoever the person I was with needed me to be. In order for them to like me I became a mirror image of themselves or provided them with exactly what they needed to hear all the time. I remember speaking with my therapist and saying I didn’t even know if I liked ham or not because when I was with Person A I loved ham and when I was with Person B I hated it. (For the record, next session she brought me in a ham sandwich and I determined I do not like ham.) The major problem then was hanging out in groups and not knowing who to mirror or who to be. 
It also manifested itself in me saying yes anytime I was asked to do something by my friends, again, in a desperate attempt to make them like me. I became so overwhelmed. It was a problem that took many years of working on before I realized that if someone is only my friend because I do something for them, that doesn’t actually make them my friend. And I got old. And I understood that I don’t have time for people like that in my life. I don’t have the energy to waste on any more one-sided relationships. 
And so I stopped just agreeing to anything. And it was incredibly exhilarating. I remember the first time someone asked me to do something for them and I said no. She was a friend in my group in high school, but was someone who was constantly asking for favors and yet was too busy to lend a hand when I needed it. And I recall looking at her and say I wasn’t going to be able to help out and it feeling as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I could say no. It hadn’t really occurred to me before that moment. I went on to say no to a few more things here and there and all of a sudden realized one day she had stopped talking TO me and started talking ABOUT me to other people and saying I had become a total bitch all of a sudden. I was shocked. So I tell you I am too busy during finals week to take you to the mall and all of a sudden I’m a bitch and we aren’t friends? It was a heartbreaking realization that sometimes people will just use you and when you are no longer useful are willing to drop you in an instant. 
I was very upset over it for years really until one day I suddenly asked myself “why am I so upset?” And the answer wasn’t that I missed my friendship with her or that I wished she was nicer about it, but rather I was upset that I had wasted so much time and energy on a friendship that clearly wasn’t real. And that was when the second realization hit me, I don’t like that kind of person. It sounds simple enough, but sometimes you have to feel like an epiphany has just occurred and the lightbulb is suddenly glowing above your head and you only now understand that you can pick who is in your life! Whoa! It was an astonishing realization, and has become one of the mottos I live my life by. A relationship, any relationship, must involve give and take on both sides and when that is unequal, a decision must be made. Do you fight for it or let it go? And it depends on the relationship, of course, some I have fought for and improved, some I have fought for and gotten nothing back and had to walk away, and others I realized weren’t worth the effort and just walked away. 
It can be a tough decision to make. But overall, it is one of the most important in our lives. When do we say enough is enough? When we do stop saying yes just to make other people happy? “Are you sure you aren’t just saying that to be nice?” Girl, I don’t do that anymore – not in my corner of the sky. 

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