As I become more confident and empowered, I notice more and more people who cannot accept the word “no”. It’s not an easy word for me, because I was raised as a people-pleaser. I was not allowed to say no. There was never a request that allowed “no” as an answer. So I never said it. To say “No” to a grown-up meant a lot of yelling and probably a slap or spanking. No matter what the question was. No matter if I understood the question. No was never an acceptable answer.
So I didn’t’ say no. The few times in my teens I tried to say no, things went poorly and in my miswired, abused, traumatized brain I made associations and decided that I just didn’t get to say no…ever. I didn’t make excuses either. If someone was offering to show me attention, I’d take it whether I wanted it or not, because bad things happen when you say no. This led to a lot of promiscuity and dangerous behavior. I couldn’t say no – even though I wanted to.
If you cannot verbalize the word no, then you never set any boundaries interpersonally. You just become a co op for all who breeze through. Fringe friends who build their own lives and happiness use you for validation or a surrogate relationship, but they’re more often than not parasitic, taking all the energy they can while remaining emotionally unavailable to you yet giving all of themselves to others as they choose.
As I start setting boundaries, I am having a LOT of pushback for saying “No – I do not want you in my life”. I would think people would appreciate the honesty. I know I would LOVE the honesty. If before that messed up kid in junior college pulled me in the practice room and sexually assaulted me he would have said, “My girlfriend is cheating on me so I want to hurt you for it” I may have run away or reported it, but instead I thought he liked me – and he was over 6 foot tall and very large. But I was taught you don’t tell a man no.
Now I get to go through the undoing – all the courses to teach me how to get over being a people pleaser. But where are the courses for the others – the ones that teach them how to accept the word NO.