“No” is a Complete Sentence

First Lady Barbara Bush had it right with her campaign of “just say no” back in the day, but as a perpetual people-pleaser, that’s been a hard word for me to employ in my daily vocabulary.  As I work on some of my goals, I find the good and bad sides of employing this tough two-letter word.

The good–if there is something there is a legitimate reason that I can’t do something, or something of insignificance that I don’t want to do, I simply can say no.  The world won’t stop spinning on its axis, lives won’t be lost, and mankind as we know it will continue on without me.

The bad–and this is a bit more complex.  First, comes the guilt factor.  Sure, the above, if there’s a legit reason I say no, that’s one thing, but desire–that’s another.  I have to truly examine the motivating factors behind the no.  If it is just because of general interest or knowledge, that’s one thing and perfectly acceptable, but if it’s out of laziness and complacency, that’s a whole other issue, and we need to back up the bus.  Motive is key–Stephanie doesn’t live lazy anymore.

There’s also the hard no to arrive at, the one that I don’t want to say, but I know is in my best interest.  The no’s that hurt the most.  I’m starting to come to a point of maximum saturation where I really have to weigh my decisions against my priorities and not say yes to everything, there simply just isn’t enough time in the day for everything that needs to get done, time spent with my family, time spent on what I want to get done, and other necessities of life like eating, sleeping, sustaining life, etc.  There is always opportunities that come along of things that I want to do, but I just can’t always fit them in, and I have to say no–I have to miss out.

I’ve had to say no a lot lately too as I’ve been recovering from my surgery, and that has angered me a great deal in a lot of ways.  I know that going in to surgery the doctor could not have predicted how extensive it was going to be from a surface biopsy–he didn’t know he was going to be ultimately removing a golf ball from my back.  He gave me guidelines and restrictions for recovery, but obviously, every person is going to handle that differently.  Apparently, I assume I am superhuman and will be fine and dandy the next day, and that didn’t happen…I had to take it much easier than I anticipated and I can’t tell you how humbling it is to follow instructions.  I wasn’t allowed to lift more than 10 pounds when I had the stitches (among a whole list of other restrictions) and I literally stood there and watched my husband and my friend empty boxes from my van so I could put up the seats to pick up kids for lunch–something any other time I am perfectly capable of doing on my own.  I don’t like asking for help.

I got my stitches out this week–hooray!  I should be magically cured, right?  Wrong.  I was told I could go back to running as tolerated, but no upper body stretching and no lifting more than 15lbs for another month and then we’ll talk at my next follow-up.  Okay, so running feels pretty good–made the mistake of wearing my hydration vest, that rubs on my incision and puts pressure on my back (ice is still my best friend).  But after two weeks almost completely sidelined in pain following surgery (I got like 3 workouts in), I wasn’t giving up my long run…in my own twisted way, I reached out for help (because I couldn’t just outright ask for it–still don’t know how to do that so well), and a friend took mercy on me for a hydration stop so I didn’t have to use my vest and could carry a smaller capacity handheld with just minimal water and fuel.

Felt pretty invincible at that point…continued on with that marathon day (no pun intended) and thought I was well enough to work at full speed ahead and I didn’t think about my limits.  I moved in ways I shouldn’t have, I lifted, and I overdid it…and now I’m paying the price.  I’m in pain.  Thank God I didn’t reopen my incision line, but I hurt and I had to say no to today’s run because of the pain.  No thanks to allergies I’ve gotten quite a bit of rest today, so here’s hoping that I’m back on the pavement tomorrow–the road is calling me something fierce!

It drives me crazy when people say that “oh you just need to relax and heal” or “you just need to take it easy.”  No, I don’t.  Those aren’t helpful comments when you never even offered to be of service if it was needed (whether I took you up on it or not is a different matter), so mind you own business.  Stay in your lane.  I’m fully aware of my limits–I may push the envelope, but I do it for a reason, and there’s so few people reading these words that would understand why I would dance that line that it’s not worth expounding on.  I will say this though–at the end of the day, you don’t grow in your comfort zone.  The bad of saying no will always come back to that initial guilt factor for me.  I’m not sure how to get rid of that.  Guilt is a big thing for me, it plays into the people-pleasing, it plays into the constant rumination in my mind, but I think it’s something bigger too.  God and I are in discussion on that one…it’s an interesting conversation.  More on that later.


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