Sunday, August 19, 2012

Just say "No".

When I was a kid I was part of a program called "D.A.R.E.". I'm sure most of your have heard of it. It was a program that taught kids to have the courage to say no to drug and alcohol abuse. I even gave a speech at D.A.R.E. graduation and got to take home good ole' Darren, the dare bear.

Don't worry, this isn't my open face confession that D.A.R.E. didn't work and I'm addicted to heroine. It is, however, my confession that maybe I failed to learn D.A.R.E.'s motto "Just Say No." No, I don't have trouble saying no to drugs and alcohol.. it's something completely different that can be almost as bad for you.

I am a "people pleaser"...a control freak...a perfectionist. I always want to be the best at everything that I do. You ask me to be in a club? Okay, Ill be in that club. But, I wanna get the "Perfect Attendance" award, I wanna be voted "Most Popular" in that club AND I wanna be club president. Boom.

If at any point I begin to slip and forget to "read my lesson" for the week, miss a meeting or slip on the job... I lose it. People ask me to do things, go places, help out with something, go on trips, be involved in projects, etc and I simply can't say "No." I'm a "yes" woman. I'm afraid to disappoint someone when they need me... no matter what it's for. I hate to turn down a friend's invite to dinner or to come for a weekend visit.

The past month has taught me that I can no longer be a "yes" woman. The past three weeks have been gut wrenching, heart-breaking, soul shaking mayhem. I have been working around the clock. I sleep with two iPhones. I don't mean that they lay on the bedside table next to me. I mean that they lay IN the bed...BOTH of to my ear... anxious for the next email. I put myself to sleep with "to-do-lists" for the next day. I wake up three to four times every night having dreams about the tasks that lay ahead of me. It's sick, really. The past month or two I have found myself working in the office 40-50 hours a week and showing houses/working from home another 10-20 hours a week... trying to squeeze in workouts and time with loved ones in between.

Adrenaline can only carry you so far. You can only bend so much before you break.

I came home one night after a 13 hour work day...exhausted... not even hungry, but knowing I needed to eat something. I made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich considering it was the only thing in the house. After making my sandwich, I sat Indian style on top of the kitchen counter and listened to The Fray's 2007 album. It brought back a lot of memories of life changes, deployments and a much simpler time in my life. Half way through the sandwich I stopped... with a mouth full of peanut butter and jelly and started the "ugly sob". I'm not talking about a few-tears-rolling-down-the-side-of-my-cheek and we move on kinda thing... I'm talking about a full out, UGLY/hot mess SOB. This lasted for a good five ten fifteen minutes. Finally, I decided to just go to bed... I was battling a sinus infection and needed my rest, that's for sure.

The next morning, I hurriedly dressed for another crazy day of mayhem. My mom emailed me to have lunch. Of course I didn't have time. I wanted to have time. I wanted to have a leisurely lunch with her and go to Marshalls and waste away an hour. But I didn't have time. I quickly told her no and that we could go another time. She called me on the phone to check on me and I was fighting hard to hold in tears of exhaustion and frustration. Of course she could tell.... Immediately she emailed me and said "lets grab a quick bite.. sounds like you need to get away." As crazy as it sounds, my schedule suddenly cleared up. I had two cancellations, which gave me almost 3 full hours to do whatever I wanted. (Even though I had a pile of things I needed to do.)

We grabbed a quick bite and I carried on my day. Later that night she text me and said "Thanks for making time to eat with me today. I love you so much." The ugly sob was back. That's all it took. My infection was worse and worse.... Finally it all came crashing down and I realized what an ugly thing "Stress" can be.

It can be worse than any diet. It can be worse than any drug. It's harsh. It will age you and strip you of life and happiness. There is certainly a level of healthy stress, but I was not living within this level.

That night I turned my phone off. I even left it in the other room. I didn't care who needed a HUD prepared asap, who needed to see a house the next morning or what contract needed to be rushed. The world was going to have to spin without me that night. I was going to relax...drink tea....take a bath.....actually read a book...and maybe play around on my guitar.

I love my job. I really do. I am so thankful to have such a wonderful group of co-workers and clients. I wouldn't change it for the world. The only thing I am changing is myself. I am learning to say "No" when the load is too much. I am learning to ask for help. I am learning that I cant always get everything done. I am learning that things aren't always perfect..and that's OK.

We can't let the "busy-ness" of life get in the way of life's business. Stop and smell the roses. Relax with an old friend, a good book and a warm cup of joe. Learn to say "no".

No more ugly sobbing with peanut butter screeching out the side of my cheeks. "Just Say No".


  1. That friend you relax with better be me. And maybe Abe, too. :)

    Love you so much, Rick!

  2. You and are the same person! I am going through the exact same thing right now. It's awful...

  3. I know how you feel, been there a lot. It's definitely hard for me to just say no. It takes time and strength.