Monday, July 19, 2010

Learning to Say No

In the church, we're taught to say yes to callings, to service opportunities, to meetings, etc. Women especially are socialized to be people-pleasers. We're expected to be "nice" and self-effacing. There's nothing wrong with serving, there's nothing wrong with callings, and there's nothing wrong with caring for those around us. However, yes is cheapened when there isn't a viable opportunity to say no.

I've spent the last several years of my life overextending myself. There are the things I have to do (like work, household tasks, etc.), the things I want to do (social life, school, church), and the things I'm expected to do. I've done the things I have to do because they need to get done, the things I want to do because I want to do them, and the things I'm expected to do out of a sense of responsibility or guilt.

A few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with non-Addison's hypoadrenia. Basically, all of the stress in my life has overtaxed my adrenals so they're not making the proper amounts of the hormones I need. It's curable, but it requires lifestyle changes to ensure that I don't relapse. I have to get enough rest, and I have to cut down on my stress. I can't keep running at the insane pace I've been keeping up for the past 7 years.

So, I'm learning how to say no. I got a frantic e-mail from the primary president on Saturday afternoon asking me if I could substitute. I almost said yes, but then I remembered that I'm too exhausted to stay for more than just Sacrament meeting most weeks. So, I said no. I explained why, so she didn't just think I was blowing her off. It was hard to say no, even though I have what most people would think was a good reason. She was very understanding.

My new home teacher called last night asking if he could set up a time for a visit. I don't really like having home teachers come over. I feel like they're imposing on my limited free time. (Work, law school, internships, law review, homework, etc. take up most of my non-Sunday time, and I like to keep Sundays free.) I told him that I would be happy to meet with him for a few minutes in the foyer after church, but that I would prefer if he didn't come over. I'm sure the bishop is going to catch word of this and he'll call me into his office to find out what's up. If he does, I'll tell him.

I'm good friends with the Relief Society president. I told her about my health issues and that I may not be able to attend anything beyond Sacrament Meeting until I'm well, but that I would play it by ear each Sunday to see how I was feeling. She expressed concern over my well-being, but then she said "don't go inactive on us." I wasn't sure how to take that. I'm not in danger of going inactive. I still go to church, pray, read my scriptures, etc. I just sometimes can't make it through the entire meeting block.

In all of these three instances, I had to say no to things that were expected of me. I felt guilty, since I'm supposed to be willing to help out where needed, let my home teachers come over, and go to my meetings. However, right now, I can't. I've been doing too much and it's killing me.

My body is a temple, and I need to take care of it. So, I'm going to exercise my sovereign right to say no and expect that those around me will respect that. No means no. It's an empowering word.


Mike H. said...

I think you're be wise to face this before collapsing. Remember D&C 10:4, and how it applies to the rest of us.

C.J. said...

I agree with you 100%. Good for you, for setting boundaries. I hope you start feeling better, soon.