I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to say no … even during times it would serve me well.
But no constricts my throat, squeezes tight, and doesn’t let go. So, instead of feeling uncomfortable and listening to my intuition, I’ve said yes when no was the best – most honest – answer. I said:
Yes to the easy university, the safer choice.
Yes to men who didn’t have genuine interest in me.
Yes to moving continents when I knew the change would risk my marriage.
Yes to letting men return in hopes that promises would be kept this time.
These are ways I’ve compromised myself. Sold out.
Each yes whittled at my integrity and discipline to set clear, firm boundaries. I’d bend – if not break – my truth to fit nicely into the palm of someone else’s life, their needs, their desires. I gave away my sovereignty and power to reign over my life with surety and clarity.
Why did I say yes when I knew deep inside I should say no? Why was it difficult to trust myself?
It’s not that I was unsure about what I wanted and needed; the problem was I didn’t believe I was worthy of my desires. Deep inside, I worried that what I most wanted was a wistful dream, something unattainable. (I still struggle with this belief at times.)
See, if I said yes, maybe I’d get a sliver, a semblance of what I wanted. That was enough. I accepted, heartily and gratefully, the crumbs tossed in my direction instead of insisting on the whole damn loaf that I was craving and denying myself.
I was starving and didn’t even know it.
I feared that “no” meant never, a lost chance, or maybe goodbye. A missed opportunity. So say yes. Say yes to everything with arms open wide to whatever may come. Say yes to the smiles, the empty apologies, the coffees, the lies. Say yes to keeping expectations low to avoid disappointment. Say yes to leaking my power and believing I’m unworthy.
There’s been a shift, though. I’ve realized – finally – something important.
No is actually another way of saying yes.
Let me say that again.
No means yes.
When I say no to dead-ends cloaked as opportunities, I say yes to real, substantial possibilities.
When I give a firm, strong, badass, gutsy NO! to the flimsy, fake version of what I truly want … when I draw the line in the sand that says “you can’t cross this!” I’m saying a big, fat YES to me. I’m making a declaration that I absolutely deserve my desires.
No becomes yes to honoring my truth, trusting myself, and creating my story.
…It’s not the no squeezing my throat that hurts.
Swallowing back my truth is what hurts.
This is a new time. A new age of reclaiming what’s mine and harnessing the faith that what I deeply want is possible.
Anything less is no longer permitted.
So, beautiful you … what will you say no to? What will you say yes to? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
The beginning is usually exciting, but uncomfortable, as you navigate your way through the new environment. Eventually, you settle in, make friends, find your niche, know which places to get coffee, adjust to the weather.
Moving back home is different. The physical landscape changes only slightly – maybe a new Starbucks opened up somewhere or the city built a few roundabouts. There’s comfort in going to the Mexican restaurant you’ve loved since you were 20, the place they still remember your order every time you return home from a big move. You know that every summer, you can listen to Music in the Park. Each fall, you know which pumpkin patches to visit. This stability welcomes you back with open arms, gives you a sense of needed familiarity.
But each time you unpack your boxes, you know you’ve changed. You carry new places, new experiences, and new people back. Your home holds pieces of all the cities, the countries you’ve lived and visited. It’s disorienting. Each unwrapped item holds a memory and pulls at some part of you, a part that is no longer tangible, no longer part of your daily life.
How do you safely keep those experiences that have changed you? Do you just sever the past and dive into the present? Keep those paintings from Ethiopia in the garage? Which parts of you do you want in your life, if any, now? What fits?
There’s a struggle between letting go and moving on. There’s an in-between space. Do you really have to fully let go? How can you while coming to a place of acceptance that: You Are Not the Same as You Were Before.
And neither are others. While you were gone, they moved on with their lives, too. They’ve also had new experiences, new people, new priorities they keep within them. Sometimes this enriches relationships. Sometimes you just can’t find a place to meet like you used to. That’s hard. It hurts. And when that happens – and it always does – you think wistfully back to where you had just been living
, where you had a groove, a rhythm with friends – one that you’re missing now. (Yet, you know, that if you were to go back to there
now, they would’ve changed, too.) There’s a sting of loneliness in that.
The high desert where I live, the place I call home, has always been somewhat unsettling for me. It clings to its crags and edges. They keep you alert. In my younger years, I lived in a low valley lush and green with mighty oaks, grass seed farmers and loggers. It’s smooth and long: Both are home. But I still get itchy feet. Especially when I feel unsettled.
Like now. Change of all sorts shakes your roots. The reality is that a big international move
, a divorce
, loss of friendships – have shaken me. I’m figuring it all out.
And I’m trying to remember it’s not all about loss – though there has been a fair share of it in a very short period of time (and it’s OK to be truthful about that).
So, I hang the past on my walls, fill my bookshelves with memories. I dig through the layers and pull out the pieces I want to keep. If it doesn’t feel right, I put it back. I’m learning it’s OK to take my time. To find my own way. To know there are no straight answers here. It’s OK to feel in-betweeny one moment, then in the next, firmly in the present. Even looking forward quite far. All of it speaks its truth.
Life is richer, more intricate for the experiences. It gives a sense of empathy and an ability to look at things upside down and from around the corner. There’s an old strength rising out, too. One that is setting boundaries. One that’s getting clear on what she wants and what she deserves and what she’ll accept. Less compromises.
There’s some beautiful things sprouting from that. With loss, with decay, there’s always growth, renewal. A different path emerges, one with travelers who walk with you in an interesting way. Unexpected. That’s exciting. Healing. Lovely.
I’m standing on a precipice. Feet right at the edge. It’s the one I’ve landed on from jumping several times before. Each new cliff gives a new view – always dauntingly, mysteriously beautiful.
I’ll just unpack the rest of my boxes … then … I’ll fly.