Thanks, Dad. I Finally Get It.

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”
“Oh, for some fowl reason.”

I’ve been in a fowl foul mood today. I’ve been wanting to back off of some commitments, and every time I’ve tried, I chicken out. I have reasons that are important to me, but when I say them aloud, they seem so wimpy.

I’ve always had a mild problem with anxiety. (I can hear my husband laughing hysterically. Mild?) I’m always afraid to disappoint someone, so it’s rather difficult for me to say no. Why is it so easy for some people? I struggle with this all the time, but it only increases my anxiety as I get pulled further and further into things I want to get out of.

Today in Yoga, I couldn’t let my mind rest, because I finally decided I was going to give notice I was leaving a volunteer position. I would give six months so I don’t leave anyone high and dry. During nearly the entire Yoga session, I kept rehearsing all the reasons I would present to our leader for why I was leaving. Would anyone really understand? Were the reasons compelling enough to anyone but me?

And then I heard my father’s words in my head. Whenever I tried to explain why I was or wasn’t going to do something, he would put his hand up and stop me. “Susan, you don’t need to explain. Your reasons are your reasons. Do want you want to do.” Here I am in my sixties finally letting that sink in. I don’t have to convince anyone my reasons are justifiable or worthy enough. How liberating that thought is. The bonus was that I came to that realization just in time to be able to enjoy the Final Relaxation.

I’m going to stick with my decision and not feel guilty. Well, I’ll try not to feel guilty…and I’ll try to stick to my decision. And I won’t feel like I have to offer a reason that is “acceptable.”

“Hi, __________. I’m sorry I have to back out of my commitment, but we’re moving to Australia…”

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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46 Responses to Thanks, Dad. I Finally Get It.

  1. Passing by your post again and am observing just how many of the women are saying the same thing: We have a problem saying “NO”. And if we do the incredible guilt eats us alive. As hard as I strived to raise my now two adult daughters to be assertive and to be okay saying “NO”,
    I see them both struggle with do something they’d rather not for whatever reasons, and then resenting it afterwards. All because saying “No” brings up so much discomfort in a woman’s heart and the guilt is just not worth it. At the time.
    Yet maybe resentments trump guilt?

    Interesting too that no male point of view has represented themselves here.

    • Coming East says:

      You ar so right, Baroness. Resentment should trump guilt. Why doesn’t it? And good point about men not chiming in. No, wait! Gay Car Boys did make a comment and he has a hard time saying no, too.

      • Missed Gay Car Boys post. Sounds like a rough crowd.
        I loved your reply about being appreciated makes it even harder to say NO. So true friend.
        I think you have a new topic. Why does this make us feel even more guilt. It’s not like we need to be beholding in a sense. We are all giving women & some men – for us to still feel not worthy of being able to say no, to decline is a big question. I wonder what others would say, why this is.
        Have an awesome day my friend.~

      • Coming East says:

        Thanks, Baroness. That does seem like a good topic.

  2. Hmmm…now I know where I get my neurosis.

  3. I really loved reading this. I picture you going through your poses, rehearsing.
    Loved loved loved your last graph.

  4. Guilt, ownership for everyone else, responsibility… these are characteristics that women have been ingrained with.
    Of course you could not concentrate during yoga. You were going to be letting someone, somebodies down. Right?
    But at the end of the day your volunteer job after a 6 month notice will be not only better for have having your time, and experiences, but because of your passion.

    As women we need to find a balance. I know it’s a cliche, and I know it sounds easier said than done. I’ve been practicing for 5 plus decades.
    One of my tricks if you will, especially when there is something pressing on my mind is to practice staying in the moment. The Right Now. I know, it sounds almost lame to not worry or be mindful of tomorrow or another time or day. But I promise you that in my years of living, dealing, and coping with many things this one act has been a mental health saver.

    I love your blog by the way!

    • Coming East says:

      Oh, Baroness, that I could live in the moment! I strive for that, but as you say, it is so difficult. I loved your comment and I will take it to heart. Thank you.

      • My dear lady, no thanks ever needed. Finding that perfect line, the balance we all strive for is a journey, not a destination. Because life is about constant change, constant actions and reactions, allowing ourselves the freedom to soar while trying to stay mindful of just the moment takes practice. Again the journey, not the destination.

        That you are aware even gets you half way there…

      • Coming East says:

        That does it! I need to spend more time on your blog, Baroness!

  5. Amy says:

    I just remembered that Madeleine Albright said in the interview on the “On bring a woman and a diplomat” that guilt is every woman’s middle name… http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/madeleine_albright_on_being_a_woman_and_a_diplomat.html

  6. Years ago I met a woman far wiser than I ever will be. She taught me one thing that will be with me for the rest of my life: ‘No’ is a complete sentence. Any time I choose to pass on an opportunity or back away from a longstanding commitment, I repeat that phrase to myself over and over. Who you choose to be and how you choose to participate in the world is a very powerful thing – don’t send that power off to Australia, Susan. You have important things of your own to do right here.

  7. Seeing myself here too! 😉

  8. What a great post — I just wrote one called – It came in a flash! and like you I was getting ready to step down from a commitment that didn’t fit my world anymore! Isn’t this blogging world fun?

  9. pattisj says:

    Your dad offered good advice. Saying “no” just takes practice. I’m reminded that there are lots of good things to do, but are they the right things for you? Only you can evaluate that. No one needs an excuse or a reason once you’ve made up your mind. It’s time to move on. 🙂

  10. Patti Ross says:

    Good luck. When you figure out an easy way to say No with litle or no explanation and even less guilt, package it and you’ll make a fortune. We all need the practice.

  11. E.C. says:

    You hang tough and be firm. I know what you’re feeling. I went through the justification of every choice until my late 40’s then I had a revelation much like yours. You’re a full grown woman and you don’t have to explain or justify your decisions & choices unless you choose too. Good for you! 🙂

  12. I think your parting shot is an excellent excuse! Just say “hoo-roo” (Australian goodbye) and that you’re going on a ‘walk-about’ down under and don’t know when or if you’ll be back. OK, seriously, a lot of us are in the same boat with you (that boat to Australia??). It took me years to figure out how to just say no and sometimes I still feel guilty but my sanity is worth it. Good luck!

  13. Aja Lynn says:

    Sounds incredibly familiar. But because it’s something my husband does. I’ll ask him a simple question and instead of answering simply, he’ll give me an answer AND lots and lots and lots of justifications for his answer; reasons. I’ve tried and tried to gently reassure him that there’s no reason to explain to ME, but he continues to do it! Sometimes I’ll just have to ask, “why are you still talking?” I don’t want him to feel I’m judging his decisions (because I’m not!), but there’s not much I can do about it. I sure hope he learns to relax before we’re older though. I just think he’d be so much happier not having to validate every single opinion.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear you’re learning to put the guilt down a little. I know how hard that part is, myself.

    Good luck!

    -Aja Lynn

  14. Big Al says:

    Maybe if you started saying “Giday, mate” every time you walk in the place, they’d buy the Australia story.

  15. Dor says:

    Why is it I see myself in this post of yours? Amazing similarity in “guilty conscience,” as my own father used to say.

  16. winsomebella says:

    Breathe in that final relaxation and breathe out those worries 🙂

  17. This sounds depressingly familiar to me…. I too have this problem plus I have the added issue of over committing. It took me YEARS to stop volunteering for things, to the point that I was actually working full time as a volunteer at the various commitments I had. (every time I went anywhere, my husband would say: “don’t volunteer for anything else”) Finally I’m down to NO volunteer activities, until yesterday…. I ran into someone who asked me to serve on a town committee… and I wimped out and said yes. Sigh. I hope she doesn’t read your blog or she’ll know I really don’t want to…

    • Coming East says:

      I feel for you, Julia. I hate that feeling. Other people have no trouble saying no. Why can’t we?

    • gaycarboys says:

      I’m am with you on this one. I was exactly the same. But I still do work for our local member of parliament who is also the Mayor of the City of Sydney. She does such good work and unlike most organisations always says thanks personally, always has a big christmas do at sydney town hall, and genuinely appreciates the efforts of those who toil for her, and the city. I did lots of work for the National Trust here in New South Wales and they couldn’t have cared less. It’s bad enough working for no money but not getting so much as a thank you makes you not want to bother.

      • Coming East says:

        Your volunteer work sounds really fun. Unfortunately, I am appreciated, so that makes it even harder to walk away. I’m starting to feel myself weaken…oh, no!

  18. Shary Hover says:

    Moving to Australia is an excellent excuse!

    I’ve always felt like I have to explain my reasons for doing things, too, but whenever I do, it comes out all wrong. I think your Dad’s advice is great. I need to pin his quote on my bulletin board.

  19. haha! so close, you almost got it 🙂

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