I smile, reflecting on the last time I said, “No.” It was a simple “No.” No explanations, no theatrics. Just… “No.” And it felt good.
I recall a convo I had with a Good Sis who told me, “The moment you say ‘no’ to someone else is the moment you say ‘yes’ to yourself.” At first, I’m like here she go with her unicorns, mermaid and vegan talk again. Thankfully, it was a phone call, so she couldn’t see my eyes roll as I automatically put the phone on speaker and went on ‘bout my sulking.
I ain’t pay Sis any mind at that moment, but to my surprise, I was waiting for the next time someone asked me for something. Waiting to see what sayin’ “No” felt like.
Saying “No,” for me was something completely unheard of. It was love-less (the fact that it took Siri three auto corrections to finally let me type that word should be clue number one that something ain’t right). I had this outlier mentality—thinking that the way that you showed people you loved and cared for them was by being there for them. And to add a lil’ pizazz, I went on to rationalize it as: your word is your bond.
I’m not feelin’ well and need a day to myself? Doesn’t matter! I told you I was comin’ so I’ll be there! The Second Coming approaching on the horizon? Oh well! I’ll deal with that after I help you move. Pretty much, imma be there for you and in no way can I allow myself to cancel. I prided myself on always being there for folks. And the best thing was, I knew, when the moment arose—others would be there for me too.
Then, good ole’ unicorn-riding, vegan-eating, Good Sis hit me with another one: “You can’t expect people to treat you how you treat them.” Matter of fact, she had the unmitigated gall to say, “There’s only one Anita.” Thankfully, this convo, too, was a phone call, so my eye-roll and LOUD nonverbal communication was safe.
Next thing I know, I got sick. So, I had to make the highly-dreaded reach to the phone and announce my failure. Announce that I wouldn’t be able to come over and help, as I stated I would. I made a mental list of questions to prep my announcement: Should I call or text? How should I phrase the fact that I couldn’t keep my word? What extra would I do to make up for it? How many times should I apologize? How this? How that?
I decided on a call. I was greeted with, “HEYYY! You on the way?!” The voice hit me with so much energy and joy, I couldn’t even come up with words. Finally, I said I was under the weather, and in ten seconds we were off the phone. Click. I was staring at the ceiling. Big thinkin’. Like, BIGGG thinkin’.
So, that day, I spent it with myself. I nursed myself back to health. With every cup of soup I fixed myself, I heard Good Sis. ‘Cause now, it was personal. Now, it was…So, I told you I was sick, and you can’t offer ANYTHING?!?! Not a medicine run? Not a homemade soup? Not even a call to check in on me? Surely, that would have been the MINIMUM I would have done.
Then my tried-and-true journal came out. And I wrote through my selfish, hurt mindset until I got to common sense. I got to establishing that I had created this dynamic. That I was mad at no one but myself. That I wanted something that I hadn’t expressed verbally or in my actions. I wanted Me. I needed Me. I needed more of Me.
Then, rainbow-chasing Good Sis’ words embraced my spirit.
And they hugged me straight from Florida to this strange, Los Angeles apartment. It was home. It was true. It was… Me.
So, that day, I decided I would schedule “Me time.” I live by my calendar, so I went straight to it. I scheduled Saturday, 9:00am–12:00pm: LOVE YOURZ. I pressed “Repeat Every Week” and I smiled. It felt so good. I had no idea what I would do with that time, but I’d figure it out.
It’s been three years now and that’s how it stands. Funny thing is, I now look forward to my Me time. During Thursday’s burnout, I open up my calendar and see LOVE YOURZ and sync back into the groove expectantly. And I think: We’re almost there. We’re almost back to you. And I smile.