Saturday, 8 September 2012

Learning to Say "Yes"
One of my biggest struggles when I first became ill with lupus was learning to say "no".  I was always anxious to do anything I could to help out anyone I could, any time I could. I would put off things I had planned to do for myself when the opportunity arose to give someone else a hand.

Having to learn to budget my energy, meant I had to learn that I couldn't do everything.  Sometimes, I had to say "no", when I was asked to do something.

It felt bad.  I felt guilty, like I was a failure. It felt selfish, to put my own needs ahead of other people's.

I could hear echoes of my mother's voice from childhood (fortunately she's not talking to me now), telling me how useless and worthless I was, how lazy and uncaring.

But I learned to say "no" because there just wasn't enough energy left for me to say "yes".  It was a necessity, a survival mechanism that I just hadn't had before. Strangely, only one person ever complained about it. Everyone else accepted that it was what I had to do.

There's one instance where I've never had any trouble saying "no" - when people have offered to help me.

I have always been independent. From a very early age, I learned to be responsible, and that if I needed anything done I had to do it myself. To admit there was anything I couldn't do or achieve for myself was just unthinkable.

The effect of my complete independence has been a growing pile of things that need to be done - but just have to wait until I have a better day, constant stress about how I'm going to pay the bills now that my income is so much reduced, and a feeling of severe guilt whenever I use any amount of precious energy or money on a treat for myself.

Today, something just "clicked" for me.

All the time I used to be willing to do anything I possibly could for anyone - I genuinely did want to be there to help. So perhaps, all the people who keep offering to help me - genuinely do care and do want to help.

My daughter asked me if I wanted her to do my washing today. I said "yes". Do you want to guess what happened?

Let's start with what didn't happen.  I wasn't struck by lightning. My mother didn't jump out of a cupboard pointing an accusing finger and telling me how useless I was (if you're laughing at that - you don't know my mother). The sky didn't fall in. I wasn't so overcome with guilt and a sense of failure that I crawled under the carpet. My daughter didn't resent the extra work.

What did happen was, my daughter washed my clothes and hung them on the line, and now I don't have a mountain of dirty clothes in my room. What I felt was relief and gratitude.

So, having tried, and found out it worked out OK, I'm going to think about some of the other things people have offered to do for me and consider if it really would be the end of the world if I said "yes" to some of them.


  1. I can't believe I'm reading this. It's like I wrote it. It's exactly what I've been experiencing this past year AND IT IS SO HARD!

    Thank you,

  2. Great post. I feel much the same. Keep up the good work.


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