One of the things I have paid most dearly for in my FOO and marriage was speaking my truth/ saying NO. I became accustomed to screaming, begging, swearing, hysterical threatening…anything to make my NO legit, heard, to make it stick. These dynamics were sustained for only as long as I would fight or surrender to their will. Once I began to calmly and definitively say “No, that won’t work for me.” without threat,volume, profanity or explanation, those entanglements died. The name calling and belittling were no longer effective in getting me to buckle in shame or fear of banishment. When questioning disrespectful responses to my fair, though unpopular boundaries, I was told I earned it by saying the same thing over and over. Oh. Ok. Same question, same answer. No? I really believed for so long, that if I said it in just the right way with the right voice at the right time, that it would count, that I might count.
My unemotional NO- is intolerable- and heard loud and clear, not respected or honored-but leaves no doubt-only silence and passive aggressive retaliation. I no longer do and accept terms that fail to consider my children and/or me. I no longer participate in my own abuse and neglect. I no longer hang around those who feel entitled to take as they like, at all costs. I do experience anxiety before delivering my new faith and courage-backed NO, and then…. relief & self esteem, once I have. BUT, for the Grace of God, Dare I.
Having nearly mastered “The Art of No”, if I could get to a place of saying yes, yes to things that would elevate the quality of my life, that would be a real miracle.
Some of the No’s that have brought wrathful righteousness (totally denied-because feelings are for the weak, covert retaliation is for the strong) from Catherine Ghoneim Whitney :
No, that dinner time is too late for us. No, I will not miss concert planned for three months for your last minute “invite”. No, I do not think ignoring my emails is kind or ok. No, publicly calling me names and excluding me won’t frighten me into coming around. No, connecting directly with my ex-husband to gain access to my children in order to circumvent healing and amends does not work for me. No, telling me that I earned or imagined my abuse is not true. No, I will not be bullied into doing things your way. No, blessing an email that annihilated me does not seem like the act of a kind or safe person. No, being around you without amends does not seem prudent. No, aligning with my ex is not acceptable. No, I wont pretend it didn’t happen. No, most sisters and NORMAL healthy families would not resort to this. No, ignoring my begging you to stop doesn’t feel like people capable of love. No, creating conflict for my children is not acceptable. No, wrecking our nuclear family is not what a kind person does. No, what you did to me as a child is not ok, and probably does not make you gay, and you don’t need to destroy me for fear I might share.
NO CONTACT is the only sane alternative. And as my mother responded to me when I asked to work it out: “I wish you well”.
Simple translation to all of my No’s: “Please stop hurting my family, my children. Please let us be.” Being married to a man, and a judge does not undo the truth of what you do, which speaks to who you are, the nature of your soul. Love and kindness are not selective. Home wrecking is nasty, just like the other things you did. Happy Birthday to my sister. I wished I could drop all my anger over your words and actions and celebrate with you…just let it go and pretend. if I could pretend, I would have never moved cross country to be free of you. If I could pretend, I would still be married. If I could and would pretend, you would have gotten your way and this would not be happening. So maybe the real problem is my refusal to obey and pretend. I will never try harder to do those things. No.
And yes I am angry. In this family identifying someone as angry immediately costs them credibility and invites open fire. Of course I am angry. I own that what is going on is damaging and unfair to my children and I am furious. Who wouldn’t be. I am sad and angry and resent being erased and ganged up on by my ex and my family. If I had less recovery, I would march right into her office and tell her in no uncertain terms what would torture her to hear about herself. Count your blessings I leave your children out of this. I will never reduce myself to doing that because then you would have just a little something legit to work with, not just a raging frustration to gain compliance from me. My side of the street is so effing clean. No behaviors or words of mine aimed at anything except getting peace and space from you and your antics. “Amen”(as she likes to say) Afuckenmen!
Having feelings and healing from trauma is messy as shit, and totally badass. Going to tell my sister off would not be. In fact, it would ease her burden just a little. So technically, it is just a heightened form of withholding on my part….could be a touch more wholesome. For the record, I repeat, Wholesome Badass is what I work towards…not a claim to anything more.