Last week I was given an assignment to say "no" once each day. I must have looked like I was going to pass out, because the task was reduced to twice during the week. I think that everyone in group must have had the same expression and I could see that the relief was universal, once I managed to resume breathing.
We were asked to report on how the process went for us and, true to form, I had completely forgotten to make that an option. Or, maybe it was an unconscious defense mechanism.
Anyway, I had no trouble remembering several situations when it would have been in my best interest to decline. It really is all about being nice and polite, about having manners and not being a selfish jerk. I always think about the Big Bang Theory episode when the Bernadette character is being bothered by one of the men, he having misunderstood her nice behavior towards him, and she yells back "I'm nice to everyone!!!!!"
That is me, and practically everyone else I know, I am nice to everyone. It is a great way to navigate the world in which I live. I do not want to change that part of me. I have no intention of doing so...ever. But, you know, it means that I often do something or agree to something or get involved in some time-sucking project only because I cannot say that I am not interested in having my time sucked.
The problem is not so much being able to decline to participate in something, but that most of the people asking for whatever they want from you are doing so because they know that you never say 'no' or are unable to do so. Frankly, that is exploitation, no matter how you gussie it up. Sometimes someone is trying to take advantage of your time or resources, sometimes they simply do not know who else to ask and most often, I am thinking, they have no ulterior motives of the dastardly kind.
I pretty much hate going anyplace. In my other life, getting out was a lifesaver on so many levels. Now that I am out of there, being home alone is my favorite thing to do, my ultimate place to be. Please do not drop in. Pretty please do not call me. Oh, help me, I am begging you, do not ask me to leave and do something.
When I first left, I was in hiding and, months later, when I had moved into this flat, all I wanted was to hunker down and stay unnoticed. I still did, and continue to go out for working and all of the other volunteer stuff. Laundry and grocery shopping have to be done. There are the rare appointments and more rare outings with friends. I have managed to organize and coordinate everything so that I have full, ten-hour days on two days of the week, a 3/4 day on one other, and four days with no responsibilities other than getting up late, random eating, napping and playing mah jong. If I am feeling particularly energetic, I may read a book or two.
I need that down time to recover from being out and needing to be extraordinarily social and focused for my clients. As a shy person, this is difficult. It is exhausting. No one cares about that, and I really do not have much invested in it either. It is what it is.
What I am particularly reluctant to do is travel long distances, which I define as more than ten miles. Yeah, I know. That means that I have not spent much time traveling to my daughter and her family. She calls me, I call her, we talk and have nice conversations, but I have stopped offering to come up to see them. This weekend is Mother's Day, and I understand that she wants to celebrate this together. When she called and asked me to spend a day with her I accepted, but my heart is not in it. Totally unacceptable, it is heartless and I am ashamed. I will go and have a wonderful time.
In addition, I am going to leave early and have coffee with my friends. I will be out of the house just as long as I am on a working day. I am going to be flat out beat by the time I get home.
And, whilst is seems as though I am avoiding saying 'no' to these two things, but I realized during this writing that I am really saying 'no' to myself and my reluctance to do something that is difficult.
Doing all of this tomorrow is not a big deal. It is a new beginning, moving towards not needing to hide.
It occurs to me that this is a result of what happened at work two weeks ago. The ambush at work, primarily, and an incident that I accepted as an uncomfortable, but random, situation.
On Friday, I learned that three days before that friend of my ex showed up and grilled me, that same ex was served with and signed a new court document, an amendment to the original final decree for our divorce. I received the notification of this via e-mail, which was followed up by a documentation of the process in a letter from my attorney.
In that letter, she described the negotiations that went on between the ex, his family, their attorney and my attorney. In it, it stated that he would sign the documents only if "offending language" was deleted. As best I can determine, that language that offended him was about how he has defied and refused to comply with every other court order.
This new order is something that I did not want to do. I have already spent a sickening amount of money on this mess and when my attorney proposed doing this I refused. She convinced me that it was necessary, and she explained all of it to me, although I have little memory of what she said. It was too stressful. However, it seems to have worked. The order is awaiting signing by a judge. The documents will then be sent to the financial and investment companies. Then, maybe something will happen. I do not believe it. If, by some miracle, anyone finally complies with anything, well, I cannot commit any energy to belief in that. I have less of that than I have money.
Two more things happened this week. The first is that one of the investment people, a woman that was close friends with my ex, sent me papers to sign, authorizing distribution and transfer of what remains in the funds. I called her and it was clear that she was trying to rush me through the process before the new orders are finished and enforceable. Oh, and the new orders are that I be reimbursed the entire amount of the money he has already taken from the funds and that the remaining funds be equally divided. If that happens, it softens the blow of having had to pay income taxes on what he stole.
The other is that I received a gift in the mail. Some anonymous person has paid for a cremation for me. I called the company, which just happens to be in the small town in which my ex lives, and they refused to give me any information, that they do not provide any for gifts. I asked how often that happens, that someone will gift someone with a cremation and she told me that it is rare, usually something that happens within families and that it was probably done by a family member who wanted to do something nice for me.
Allrighty, except that she does not know that my ex and his sister threatened my life at our final hearing. I am still sticking with my belief that all of it is random. The documents issues followed by the rest. It is that just when you think you have it together, that you get something, the Universe will come along with another learning opportunity to make sure that the lesson has truly been learned.
This creepy, but coincidental series of events is interesting, but not something that is worrisome, in fact, I find it funny. I have not spiraled about any of this. Truth is that I feel strong and am proud that I have not allowed any of this to increase my fears.
I took all of it. Random or not, connected or coincidental, it has no power over me. I have been able to discuss and dissect it in therapy. I shared some of it in group.
So, even though I forgot about the No assignment, I am saying "no" where it counts. No to fear. No to conspiracy. No to everything that is not in my best interest.