SELF CARE CHALLENGE – Day 1: Learn to Say No
I chose this option because it is my quixotic pursuit, a flaw innately linked to my most powerful qualities. My refusal to decline work, offers, and requests causes me endless anxiety, stress, and speeding tickets. My people pleasing tendencies are so acutely inherent that I am unable to detect my vulnerability until it is too late. Suddenly, I'm screaming at my dogs to move or shouting at the garage door that refuses to close whenever I'm in a hurry.
The thing is, I'm always in a hurry and it's rarely for me. Why? Because I say “yes” to everything; I don't want anyone to be disappointed or feel like he or she is a not a priority. Naturally, I sacrifice myself instead.
Women: masters of martyrdom. Indeed!
My entire life is spent in service to others, and frankly, I'm damn good at it. Every job I've ever had, from being a mom, to a teacher, to the right hand man of a clueless business owner, to an executive assistant - Each day is dedicated to those I loyally attend to. And I genuinely love this calling! I find great joy and pride in providing for others. Much of my self-esteem revolves around my excellence in serving others.
Here is where the therapist condescendingly says, "Codependency." It's true. My identity is succinctly tied to my ability to intuitively and accurately assist others. I love this about me, but at the same time… who serves me?! No one. Because I am capable and independent; I’m a ferocious fighter who will never surrender to the very same service I give others. Help must be forced upon me.
Every day, I struggle to say "no" to well-meaning friends and family members who want nothing more than to spend quality time with me. They seem so harmless, but their reach is more invasive than evil German cockroaches. Sure, I love my cockroaches. I do. Yet, it is a tenacious struggle to protect quality time for myself.
What do I want to do so badly? I'm a gym rat - or would be, if I had the strength to simply shut down the seven offers or requests that litter my emotional inbox and disrupt my downtime.
Yes, for me, working out is cathartic. I'm spending time working on me, for me, and for no other purpose. I'm locked into my headphones where music masks the mile long list of tasks. Pretty soon, I can’t see the guilt tripping tirade that clutters the corners of my hard working brain. With my gnarled Nike shoes firmly planted on the elliptical, or with a cable grip in my calloused hand, I let it all melt like those malicious calories I consumed during the day to ensure survival.
I want hours in the gym. I want dumbbells and barbells and pulleys - that I PULL, that I operate. Moving my muscles is me, all me: Self-propelled, self-motivated, self-satisfying, self-improvement. Yes, I said SELF at least six times by now, and I'm sick of being traumatized by the mandates in my mind that say I'm not permitted to pay attention to myself.
Dripping in sweat, in a stained wife beater, I see my true self staring back at me in the mirror. She lifts weights; she easily lifts the weighty burden of her real life right off her shoulders. She stands in a Wonder Woman pose and smirks at the weak. She is the only version of me that looks stunningly strong and confident. In reality, I look more like I've narrowly escaped Hell. Regardless, in these moments, I feel centered and focused.
However, the world has shaped me to believe that my self-care is indubitably and perniciously self-centered.
Well, Fuck That! I need the endorphins from exercise; it saves me from assaulting old people who stop in turn lanes or lashing out at idiots who email asinine questions. The world should WANT me to workout, souls are spared. Including my own.
And that is why I'm saying, “NO.” I'm protecting my after work arena (those short five hours before I fall into an exhausted sleep). More importantly…
I am not sorry.
Attention people who love me! Love me by letting me be a little lazy when I get home. Love me by letting me leave for the gym and then leaving me alone while I'm there. Just know that replenishing me is always going to be beneficial for you and it is possibly preventing mass killings in my hometown.