I struggle with saying no to people, including myself. Once I became a single mother I was determined to do the best job I could so that my child would not suffer from being raised in a single parent household.
Part of that determination was feeling like I had to be everything to everyone. I never said no when someone asked for help. I never said no when Hailey wanted me to stop what I was doing and entertain her. I never said no when I would tell myself to just keep going, people live perfectly well on five hours of sleep.
While it is a good thing to be able to do things for others and help them out, after a while, it took a toll on me. I was tired. I was worn out, run down and overloaded.
I became a mom I didn’t want to be. I was tired, I snapped at my child, I felt taken advantage of. I started resenting people, including my daughter. Everyone wanted something from me, why couldn’t they see I wasn’t super woman and couldn’t do everything.
How dare they keep asking me for things! I was mad. I stomped around, being surly to everyone, slamming doors and giving short answers. In short, I was turning into a five year old.
This kept up for a while until one day I woke up and realized I had no one to blame but myself. People kept asking me to do things because I set no boundaries. Whatever someone needed I would push aside whatever I was doing, and do it for them. Of course they were going to continue asking, I had never let them know it wasn’t ok.
I had to start small, my identity was tied up in being the person everyone could depend on. It was hard, I still struggle with it.
Now when someone asks me to help them or do something I don’t immediately say yes. I find out what they need, why and when, and then I take a look at my life. Initially I would only say no if it really interfered with plans I had made or something similar. Now, if I was looking forward to taking a long bath and reading a book, if it’s not a life altering request, I’ll say I’m busy.
I still feel guilty at times but I remind myself that I am a better mother and better friend for it. Now when I help people I do it out of joy and not obligation. It makes the experience so much better for all involved.