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?