Saturday, December 8, 2012

On saying "No."

I have taken a little longer to write a new post, mostly because I've realized how little I have to say that I haven't already said.

I recently applied to give a talk at a retreat. This is one of those secret retreats I'm not allowed to give much detail about, so I'll be giving as little detail as I can while still getting to my point. I had been on this retreat only once before, and unlike most people who went on I never applied to be on team. I've even had two years longer to do it, and only now that I've come to my last chance to do so have I applied. There were multiple reasons for doing this, but I did always help the retreat in some regard without being on team. Things that you can only do by not being on team for the retreat.

Well, I was denied. They offered me a different position that didn't exist when I went on the retreat - it was created simply so that they could have a larger team and not deny so many people. I didn't take it. I said no.

I have thought about this for a few days. I've talked about it with only a few people, who all seemed to believe I was acting out of anger, jealousy, or selfishness. Or some combination of those three. I'm not surprised, it was more or less what I expected to hear. I do have a few practical reasons for not going, one of which being that I don't actually have time to do it. I would be giving up sleep and meals, and I have already had to cut back on those. Sure, I was prepared to do that to give a witness, but to do a position that I could show up with no preparation and do exactly the same? Selfish or not, I said no.

I have made an effort to not share as much about myself as I once did years ago. I did this out of a concern that I was being too attention-grabbing and making things too much about myself. This never meant, however, that I didn't want to share about myself. One thing I've always wanted to do but never asked for until now was to have a chance to talk in front of my community about the mistakes I've made and how I came out of it alive - so that maybe those lessons wouldn't be wasted on just myself. Well, I asked and they said no. And so did I, in return. Right or wrong, that's how it played out and I want to think I made the right choice.

Having something bad happen to you, like rejection, is always about trying to make the best out of a bad situation and moving on. I hate sounding like a pity party but I've been doing that for a long time now and I am sick of it. I just want something to go my way. But life doesn't work according to our demands. Very well.

In response to all of this stuff I have written about for months, I have gotten very defensive of myself. My life has curled in on itself. I feel like I need to defend myself, because I'm the only one who can. I don't have anyone else who can look out for me like I can. I don't expect those who called me selfish to understand how hurt I am, how that hurt gets compounded on top of more hurt. When you're hurt you need medicine. My medicine is saying no.

I don't expect that things should always go my way, but I can always refuse to play along with other people's demands. People don't have to respect me. But if they won't respect me, I will work on ways to better respect myself. And right now, I believe respecting myself means refusing to give up hours of time that I need so that I can heal my mind.

Maybe someday, I will have a chance to share my life with people without needing to go out of my way or whoring for attention. But that is not this day.

There was a dream that I dreamed, a dream of saying no.


  1. i think you made the right decision. an extent, i can empathize with you, though it might not seem so because i did in fact give a witness on this retreat and i certainly had other opportunities... but things still didn't quite go 'my way'. so i suffer it and realize God knows what's better...and any other cliche you can conceive to try to ameliorate situations like these.

    1. Thanks, man. I actually just recently changed my mind. It's a long story, though, one for another post or conversation.