Stories and thoughts about family and life

Knowing No

on April 19, 2012

What do you get when you take a person who can’t say “no”, and give her half a dozen or so “quick” problems to solve?  Me, reaching for my BC powder and threatening to make a drink as I contemplate my crazy existence!

It starts out simple enough.  A friend needs something, usually related to insurance, which is my specialty.  I explain their situation and offer some advice.  I’m greeted with a quizzical look.  I offer more advice and try to clarify.  Then I usually get a response something similar to “so you’ll call and straighten that out for me, right?” or, even worse, I sense that they’re not getting it and I say “call me if you need me to help you when you make that call” or “I’ll help you draft a letter” or “why don’t you let me take care of that for you”.    You can say it, I’m too nice.  I like to be nice, though.  Oh, and I don’t know how to say “no.”  I don’t even know how to say “maybe not.”

I used to be the person who had it all together.  I never forgot anyone’s birthday.  I took care of problems for people quickly and effectively.  I would be the friend to send a card when I knew someone was having a rough time, or, better yet, just because I was thinking about them.  Now?  You’re lucky if you get a card from me at all on your birthday, let alone a gift.  I spend much of my time e-mailing or texting apologies to my friends for not keeping up with them, or apologizing because I said I would do something and haven’t gotten to it yet (undoubtedly because I’ve picked up two or three other things to do along the way. . . ).    Now, most people (my really good friends) are all just as busy (if not more so) than I am, so we all get it.  None of them have held it against me, and most of them have even encouraged me by saying they are going through the same things.  And still I feel guilty.  I’m not moving fast enough, strong enough, well enough.  I’m critical of my work and my responses and my abilities.

No one is capable of perfection, though, right?   Right.  I thought not.   I do still have a few friends who are able to make it look so simple.  The ones who are ultra-organized and can gather it together at a moment’s notice. I admire longingly as they so effortlessly have a clean house, without laundry strewn about.  Their floors are clean and their sofas don’t have the corners chewed off the cushions or candy wrappers under the recliner or the table covered with Legos or puzzle pieces or paper.  How I long to live in a clean, tidy house and have a clean, tidy desk at work.  How I long to have the laundry done and not have to hear “I don’t have any socks” or wonder myself “where are my extra jeans?”  How I would love to come home and have a well-stocked refrigerator and dinner just five minutes away because I’ve had the forethought to prepare everything so I can just throw it in the oven.

Yeah, well.  The only problem with that is my life wouldn’t be nearly so adventurous.  For example, this morning we woke up nearly 45 minutes late because we forgot to set the alarm.  Add to that one son scrambling to find his clean jeans in fresh out of the dryer, and the other looking for his shoes and you’ve got the making for a real aerobic workout!  I mean, who doesn’t love to spend 30 minutes running like a crazy person, trying to get out the door and get to school/work on time?  What’s the fun of having everything so organized you never get the pleasure of a real old-fashioned treasure hunt (and, if you have ADD like I do, find 50 other things along the way)?

My life must look really funny to someone who doesn’t know me very well.  I’m a bit OCD (okay, you can stop laughing, it might be just a bit more than a “bit”, but not much more than that).  So where my life doesn’t feel like utter chaos, it’s very methodical and logical.  My desk looks like a tornado hit today, but it will be cleaned up in a day or two.  My notes about events, though, that’s EXTREMELY detailed and well preserved.  There may be dust all over my television, but all the blinds are straight (so straight that if they’re not, I can’t focus on anything else until it’s corrected).  There may be things all over my desk at home, but the covers on the bed better be straight, or I can’t go to sleep.  Life is about balance, right?  😉

So I can’t say “no.”  Aren’t there worse things to be?  I may be a little more tired, a little more stressed, and a little less organized, but hopefully the people who need to count on me know they can.  And hopefully a few who didn’t need to count on me now know they can as well.   Maybe I’ll save “no” for when I’m retired and I can’t do much of anything anyway.  Yeah, that sounds like a plan.


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