I spent a majority of my childhood trying to keep the word No from crossing our mothers lips. I can remember preparing to ask her if I could go to the movies, or have a friend sleep over, or buy a new outfit. I would practice my speeches and make sure I picked just the right moment to ask for permission. “Please oh Please oh Please?” I’d plead, hoping she’d find it so annoying she had no other choice but to give in, just to get me to stop.
After years of practice, I learned a valuable lesson, that my success hinged upon perfectly orchestrated timing. Catching her distracted and tipsy at a party or mingling with dinner guests exponentially increased my chances of getting a yes. On the other hand, if I caught her on an off night, the defeat would only fuel my conviction to rethink my strategy and try again later.
No was a challenge to overcome to get what I wanted.
As I got older, No took a different turn and became more cunning. I’d feel it in a look from friends if I wasn’t dressed a certain way, see it in my father’s eyes when I became too emotional about his drinking or hear it when my first grade school crush told me he had eyes for my best friend.
No got more sneaky in it’s delivery but it’s message was undeniable.
In the midst of my addiction, No was my self discipline. The morning after was sure to be filled with plenty of Nos. No more wine for me. Hell no! No way am I gonna do that again, are you kidding me? It was a punishing word that became the task master I needed in the moment, quick to smack down my bad behavior and even quicker to leave me in the dust once 5 O’clock rolled around.
No was fleeting and soft and had no legs.
In sobriety, No has taken on a whole new meaning. I’ve given up the fight and learned to embrace it. It’s my response to all the little things in life that don’t serve a higher purpose. I say No to drinking. Every day. I say No to making time for people who deplete my energy. I say No to overbooking myself when I need time to unwind and chill out. I say No to tolerating bad behavior from myself or others. I say No when I disagree with something that doesn’t feel right and most importantly, I say No to expecting myself to be anything other than who I am.
Its funny how this innocent little word can mean so much and a subtle shift in perspective can change absolutely everything.