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New to Saying No

Since my days of junior high, I’ve been considered the sarcastic bitch of my family. I tend to cover up any uncomfortable feelings or feelings of disdain with humor. I’m always honest, but I try to add a bit of comedic commentary to my feelings or explanations. It helps me get out of opening up too much. It’s not the best method since I’ve been dubbed the mean one of the family.

No matter what cynical views people assume I have, I’m very nurturing and sweet. I like to hide the vulnerable aspects, because I’m super sensitive and get my feelings hurt easily. The one thing I can’t mask with humor or deter with a joke is my inability to say “no.”

When my adopted brother was marrying a very pretentious woman, I was asked to be a bridesmaid. I was terrified about the costs of the dress and helping with the shower and everything. I felt like I couldn’t say no, even though we were working on repairing our finances and credit. Sure enough, her fellow bridesmaids stuck their nose up to me and were the furthest thing from welcoming.

The other bridemaids picked a dress that was over $300 and chose a pricey salon for hair, nails, and makeup. My husband was also a groomsmen and our son was supposed to be the ring bearer. Getting tuxes isn’t cheap either. We were pulling money from our savings that we couldn’t spare. We had to back out. After finally speaking up, we were kicked completely out of their lives. The bride to be told people I ruined her day. I was left with an unreturnable dress and no relationship with my brother.

One year later, their divorce is messy, but my brother is trying to fix our bond. I still blame myself. I said many times that I didn’t think we were able to do it financially but never did I just say “no.”

I get stuck in a lot of little situations I wish I wasn’t because I don’t like disappointing people by saying that tiny word. Whether it’s allowing people to come and drink a case a beer while crying about their lives as I’m trying to be a diligent mom or telling people my husband doesn’t really have time to be their unpaid handy-man, I can never completely say “no.”

I’m currently in two messy altercations. My mother left a candle on and it burned her countertop. She wants my husband to totally redo all of her kitchen counters, so they match. His first job was cabinetry and redoing kitchens. He’s great at it, but he typically works 10 hour days and 6 days a week. My mother is expecting him to give her a dream kitchen for $25 a week. It’s not about the money; it’s about the time. He doesn’t see me and kids enough as it is. She knows he won’t say no, so I guess we won’t be seeing much of him.

The other squabble is where a long time friend took advantage of me. After my hysterectomy, she said she wanted to help me out around the house. For two weeks she sat on her phone. She did dishes from time to time and threw away diapers for me. She didn’t help with any lifting of the kids like I needed, but I liked the company. There were moments her attitude made me feel lile i was a burden even though she just spent majority of her time taking selfies and chatting with her online beaus. We would still buy her food and toiletries and make sure she was cool with couch surfing.

I eventually noticed a fair amount of my favorite face scrub missing. I had given her some to try before and she loved it. I hadn’t used this stuff since the day before surgery, but when I went to use it, it was almost empty. Over half of it was gone. I’ve turned cheek to her using or taking my beauty products before. She has a history of steeling small trivial things, but I over look it. I figured she wouldn’t do that to her best friend of 21 years. It still seemed like she just couldn’t ask before using certain items, and she knew I wouldn’t say no if she asked. I snapped. I can’t take being taking advantage of anymore.

A few “friendships” I have are very much one sided. I’ve written about how I am their friend, but they aren’t mine. This surgery has really highlighted the way people use my inability to set boundaries. I’ve since spoken up. Relationships are now fractured, but I feel a new level of confidence.

Aside from my pushy mother, I think I’m going to keep standing my ground. It really hurts that something so stupid complicated years of friendship, but I can’t take the little amounts of disregard and disrespect. I even wrote down reasons to say “no.”

  • It could affect the kids. If my kids aren’t feeling up to company or going somewhere, I need to put them first. Even if the situation is minor, I want to keep my kids on their schedule as best as I can.
  • My husband needs me to be his voice sometimes. I have known my husband since junior high, and we had a solid 10 years of friendship before our relationship went further. If he’s uncomfortable or doesn’t want company or to go somewhere, I can’t and won’t push him. My husband also works his ass off, so we can make a good living and I still get to stay home. He’s very handy and is our family mechanic on top of his full time job. If I see him needing a break, I have to step in, because he says “no” even less than I do. He will run himself into the ground if I don’t step in.
  • I need a break. I do a lot during the week. Being a stay-at-home mom is mentally and physically hard. I love it, but that doesn’t mean it is always smooth sailing. People assume I don’t work, so I have all the free time in the world. Sometimes, I need a break from listening and helping. It’s difficult to keep giving when I don’t receive the same kind support I offer.
  • I don’t want to do it. Whatever the request, I just don’t always want to help. Somedays, I don’t feel like listening to people. Somedays, I want to stay in my bubble with my babies. I always feel guilty and give in, but I have to learn that I can just say “no” because I want to.

When it comes to being nice, offering a helping hand, or being an open ear, it’s okay to say “no.” I always have guilt and feel like a bad person when I decide not to help. Then, I give in and help anyway. It has usually lead to people walking all over my generosity. So the moment I bring it up, they become the victim and I’m the bitch.

Speaking up usually blows up in my face. I’m told im judgmental and rude or I hear, “well, life isn’t fair.” My family tells me to suck it up if I tell them how I feel, but they never take their own advice. I’m at the point where I’m considering if they are right or if I can keep saying “no” and stand my ground.

My husband and I love the show Justified. I hate that it ended, but we own all the seasons on DVD. The main character had a saying that I worry might pertain to my current ramblings.

If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole. – Raylan Givens

I’m the asshole. Maybe my family is right. Maybe my friend is right. Perhaps saying “no” and finally snapping has made me the bad guy. But I’m not totally sure if I will stop being this asshole version of myself. Having boundaries is giving me confidence and showing me that it’s all right to be self aware. If a situation or person feels toxic, it’s okay to pull back. Maybe I will become a combination of bleeding heart and asshole if that’s possible.


  1. I too have a problem saying no but I’ve found a brilliant way around it!
    I/he/we would love to help but time is tight. I/we/he only have one day off/day together a week.
    I/he/we typically do the x/y/z chores on Sunday (insert whatever loathesome chores you want. Mowing grass, washing cars, cleaning cat boxes…) …so if you come over and help with those chores we can help each other *smile sweetly* because you know you have just played the ace get out of jail card!

    Liked by 1 person

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