I have had, ever since I can remember. I'm the most obliging person I know. If you want something, and ask me, I'll probably do it for you. No matter the cost to me, my family, or my relationships.

Saying "no" seems like a dreadful thing to do, no matter what my thinking-brain tells me.

When I was much younger, this made me into the town bike. A sad, lonely boy would need someone to listen to him. So I would listen. He would never have known this experience before, and so would fall at once in love with me... Or think he did.

If he loved me, well, I would have to spend more time with him, wouldn't I? It made him feel better. And making people feel better is what it's all about.

So then he'd hug me, and I'd hug him.

And I'd end up in bed with him, and accepting his undying gratitude.

I think I only ever had this ... reflected love for anyone for most of the years of my young sexual life.

And because what I was feeling was more ... um... maternal with sexual overtones? (I hope you know what I mean) than actual love, I would sometimes find myself in a couple of these relationships at once. I was never single from the time I was twelve until my ex husband left me at 28. There was always someone to need me. 

The only thing that broke me of that habit was moving in with my ex.

If this was a marriage, it was a marriage, and you just don't get that close to another man once you are married. It seemed I had found something stronger than the need to be liked, approved of, needed: The need to Get Something Right, to play by the rules and be a success.

But of course once I couldn't fuck for approval, I had to find other ways to get it.

So I became helpful.

I could not allow anyone else to carry a parcel if I could conceivably carry it.

Someone needing their children collected knew they could count on me.

Someone needs a loan of some money? No worries.... the kids really like baked beans anyway, and I didn't actually need the new saucepan right now.

And so it went.

I have had trouble when two people both asked things of me on the same day - I'd say yes to both, then juggle madly, trying to fit them both in, neglecting my family responsibilities and my own needs.

I think I thought actually having any "own needs" was kind of naughty.

But now I have changed my mind.

I do have needs, and I am allowed to have them.

And sometimes fulfilling other people's needs, desires and expectations is deleterious to one's own life.

So I'm not going to have a problem with saying "no" to people anymore.

I'm going to say "Sorry, I have a prior engagement"

I'm going to say "You poor thing, that's awful" instead of "Oh, I can pick him up/take you there/check your email/stay up till 4 talking to you about your problem"

I really am.

..... If that's ok with you?

Saying "no" used to not be an option for me. If a girl wanted to be with me, she was, as soon as she expressed an interest. This was due to a need to have companionship in my life. I went out with three or four girls in the past whom I really wanted to tell "no," just because the desire in me to have someone to talk to was so great. There were three or four girls whom I asked out just because I knew I could get with these girls, not because they were attractive or the kind of person I wanted to be with.

I met a girl in July of 2000. She was so perfect for me in hundreds of ways, but was completely wrong for me in one or two ways. Later in July, she left for college. She wanted to have an open relationship while she was in college, where she could date others, but I could not handle the idea because she meant so much to me. I wanted her all to myself. We agreed, after many very stressful discussions, to only see each other.

In December of 2000, this girl became friends again with an ex of hers, but their relationship became much more than friends, based on conventional definitions. They were never physically intimate, but they were emotionally and mentally intimate on a few levels. I could not stand for this, and I broke up with this girl.

She wanted to get back together. I could not say no. We got back together with the contingency that she would never talk to this guy again. She dumped me a few days later. After a few days of time for her to find some things out for herself, she wanted to get back together. I said no, as hard as it was, for a little under a week. After this time, we got back together because she gave me many great things, things that I needed, things I could not say no to. At this point I should have known that she was not the right girl for me, based on her beliefs about being intimate with others, but I could not see this. All I could see were the times that she made me feel good. It was like selling your soul to the devil for a new car, knowing the devil will make good on the deal in 2 weeks, and come back to make your life a living hell. All I could see was the car; I ignored the "life a living hell" part. Note: I am NOT calling this girl a devil, she is a wonderful person, just not right for me.

About April, this girl became depressed. We argued about the causes for some time, always trying small things to make the depression better. It never worked. In June, I moved a state away to attend college, and she dumped me for good. After suffering my own depression because of the break-up, I turned to writing to understand some things in my head. One of my conclusions was that by not saying no to her in December, when I should have known she was not right for me, I ruined her life for a period of time, and made mine horribly stressful at times. Through writing and learning lessons from these events, I learned to say no, because I can now see the consequences of saying yes at inopportune times.

To anyone whom cannot say no, you need to learn to, and damn fast. I couldn't say no due to an emotional need to be with someone. I worked through that, and am now happy on my own. You need to work through whatever is causing you to not be able to say no, weither it is not being able to say no to sex, relationships, or seconds of ice cream. I caused a person to come close to suicide because I could not say no.

As a human living in a free or semi-free society, it is your responsibility to make good choices. If you cannot say no, your life will be hell like mine was for a period of time. The real pisser is that you will not know it is hell until you work through the reason you can't say no. Once that happens, you can take a step back and see how stupid you have been, and how you have hurt yourself and possibly others.

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