You are the only you will ever be. This is the only life you will ever have. And it’s a blink, in the grand scheme of things. You are a firefly. An eyelash. The briefest moment in a great span of time.
This is both terrifying and absolutely liberating.
Believing that you are not as worthy as others, that your needs don’t count…it’s not only untrue, it’s incredibly damaging and destructive, and it tarnishes the time you do have to live, to love, to be, to enjoy. I have been in that place, I have believed that my ideas and opinions count for nothing, that I, essentially, count for nothing. If someone else needed something, I would give my time, my money, my heart. I would sacrifice whatever was necessary to make sure that person’s needs were met. And yet when it is was me who needed something, I felt a cold fury with myself: how dare I make demands, how dare I think I deserved, how dare I be so weak as to need.
It is heartbreaking to realise in the wake of an eating disorder just how much time and energy you wasted. How many times you said yes when you wanted to say no, and then took whatever resentment you felt afterwards out on yourself. How many times you said no when you wanted to say yes and then cried because you felt trapped and alone.
Even when you have begun to get your head around the fact that your own needs do matter, it can be difficult to work out what’s what. When is it a compromise and when is it unhealthy self-sacrifice? When should you say no instead of giving up your time automatically…and how do you say no without injuring someone else’s feelings, without feeling bad yourself?
I don’t have all the answers. I do know that achieving this balance comes with practice and commitment. If you have a gut-feeling that it would be better for you to say no in a particular instance, then go with that instinct. It’s not easy, especially when the request comes from someone you love who wants help with something, or for you to go with them somewhere. But in the long-run you will be contributing more to the relationship as a whole and healthy person in charge of her own life than you will as a doormat.
And don’t feel that you can’t be honest about your reasons for saying no. I used to be the world’s worst culprit for accepting invitations left, right and centre and then inventing an excuse last minute because I really didn’t want to go. This frustrated friends more than my initial refusal would have done and they started to think of me as unreliable and flaky when actually I was just nervous and afraid. Now, I will say that I’m not sure rather nodding and beaming when in fact I feel like doing the exact opposite. And I have spoken about the issue with my closest friends, so now they know that when I cancel last-minute (which I do much less frequently these days) there’s usually something bigger going on and it’s not just that I can’t be bothered.
So. In conclusion. You ARE deserving. And you CAN say no. And that DOESN’T make you ‘bad’ or ‘selfish’. Maintaining boundaries and parameters is just as important as opening up and letting people in. It’s learning what to do when that’s the tricky part…and the only way to learn is through trial and error and lots and lots of practice J