Just say no

Some people might say that I’m driven. That if I make a commitment, I’ll keep it (which is nearly always true). That if there’s something that needs to be done, I’ll do it. That I hate to let other people down. That I keep going, and going, and going. To a fault at times. But this weekend I said “no.”

There’s a lot going on at home right now, with my daughter leaving for college next week. And, as usual, I packed my (and our) schedule with people to see so she could say goodbye to them, errands to run, and things to get done. And then I realized that it was too much. And I said “no.”

I said “no” to visiting my father on Friday, as much as I would have liked to, and as much as my daughter wanted to say goodbye to him and he wanted to say goodbye to her. It would have taken the whole day, and it was a day we didn’t really have. We needed to vacuum pack her clothes and figure out what we were shipping, not drive to New Jersey and rush back so that she could make it to the high school cross-country meet. It was hard. I don’t say “no” – not often to him and nearly never to her. I like to give people what they want. I enjoy it and it fills me. But it was more than I could do and I needed space. And we needed to pack. So I said “no.”

I said an almost “no” to the people who were coming (and are still coming) to visit for the weekend. I wasn’t feeling well at the beginning of the week and I just didn’t know if could handle people in my house. Entertaining, even when it wasn’t really entertaining, because it’s family and a friend that is as if family. So I put them on hold. And when I felt better, I said “yes” again. Happily. But at first I said “maybe no.”

I’ve said “no” to work that has to get done, but not right now. I’ve said “no” to keeping the house as clean as I usually do. I’ve said “no” to everything that seemed extraneous and really too much. It’s not like me but I’ve said “no.”

It was the only way I could say “yes” to what really mattered – to taking care of myself when I’m not feeling well; to being there for my family, using what little energy I have for the people who live with me and are most important to me; to finding my peace and space in the midst of the chaos of sending my first-born off to the college of her choice.

Sometimes we have to say “no.” Sometimes we have to say “enough.” Sometimes we have to admit when what we really need is to a break, a cup of tea, a breather, a nap, a few minutes alone, a few minutes with a friend, a few minutes of meditation, a hug – whatever. We have to say “no” to some things so that we can say “yes” to the others.

So I said “no.”

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