Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Just say No

I have been thinking about my compulsion to say yes to everyone and to all requests that come my way. Does this make me an especially nice person or just a needy scaredy-cat, who doesn’t think any one will like her if she isn’t always pleasing? It’s such an ingrained habit. But what if I had done things differently and said ‘No’ instead …..

First meeting ever, May 9th 1980, Mod Boy pulls up on his scooter just like an extra from Quadrophenia. I am instantly smitten.

 “Can I come to the party?” he asks politely.

What if I had said “No, go way you silly Arsenal loving loser we just won the FA Cup so there!”

 My entire romantic knowledge would have been changed for ever. The 15 year old me would never have experienced a first date which included chasing chickens from his sitting room and then being lured into  his bedroom and reassured it was ok I could keep my knickers on. To be fair I wasn’t wearing much else; it was very hot and they had a pool. We’d been swimming. I didn’t own a bikini top, not really having anything to put in one.

 October a few years later …..I could have said no when the offer to go to Morocco in a camper van with another couple came up. But I would have missed the chance of being stuck in a hovel in the mountains with no fresh water, (lots of coca-cola though), bread that had been baked in August and goats, both as companions and to eat.

 I could have said “what a mad idea you, crazy boy. Go on your own. Don’t drag me into your drug dealing fantasy.”

If I had said no when he flew to Los Angeles to ask me to return to London and marry him I may have become an American citizen with a condo in Malibu.

 Or I could have said “no I’m not coming back because I know you have been sleeping with my best friend.”

 But then I wouldn’t have lived in Camden in the late 80’s when it felt very cool to be doing so. And I wouldn’t have been in the position of meeting a man who I could have adored.

 If I had said “no it doesn’t matter that I married someone else just a few weeks before you - Mr So Right - came along,” I would have known what it was like to have an affair.

Maybe I could have said no when the husband asked to come home after realising the affair He had embarked on wasn’t working out.

 “No you can’t walk away when you fancy, leaving me with two small girls who want to know why daddy isn’t here.”

But then we wouldn’t have had a few lovely years of it being really great; a time of making it work as a family.
           If I had said no clearly, loudly and with absolute passion we may not have lost our business, or house, and a fair few friends.

 “No, we aren’t going to deal with it by disappearing off to Spain. No, running isn’t the solution. No, that isn’t in the rules, flirting with women in a foreign country does count. No, you cant have another chance. No, it’s really over this time.”

“No I can’t deal with this any more,”

  But then I wouldn’t have had to find a novel way to pay the school fees and I may not have gone to University where I meet someone who has become one of my very best friends. Perhaps my eldest would not have got a scholarship to big school and never even considered Oxford.

 If I had said no, I’m too tired to get on the tube I may have missed the daily trek across town take ‘The Baby’ to ballet class. And I may never have had to wander around parts of London that I had forgotten existed, remembering how much I loved the excitement, the buzz of certain areas.

 “No, I don’t need to stay in the East just because it suits you.”

I could have said “no, your eating is not my responsibility…. No, I am not going to stop everything to make you well. No, my career comes first. No, you will have to go into a unit because this is disrupting your father’s supper. My marriage is more important than your health.”

 I may not have a relationship with my daughter if I had said that.

 What if I had said to Him no, you aren’t moving with us?

 “This is a new start on my own. No, its just going to be about me for a change. No, your feelings are no longer my concern.”

Oh well yes I did say that. Good for me.

No, I’m not being irrational. No, hormones are not to blame. No, I really mean this. No, this is not just a reaction to my father’s death. No, there isn’t another man involved. No, I can manage on my own. No, you cant come back… well OK, I didn’t say that… not as clearly as I should have done any way.

So it’s taken me a while but I think I got there in the end. However I have to learn to say to other things now…
No, I shouldn’t have an extra glass of wine.
No, I cant squeeze any more guests into my flat, even just for the Olympics.
No, you cant have a party, even a small one.
No, other people must take turns at emptying the dishwasher.
No, I will not drive you to work in the traffic when the football season commences as it is quicker to walk
No, you cant bring your small children to my wedding, its not a suitable venue.
No, I really don’t want wedding presents.
No, there is no chance I will change my mind at the last minute.
No, your father can not come, even only to the evening. Please help me stick to this one, especially if I said yes to the extra glass of wine – I know my own weaknesses.

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