no, thank you

I am not good at saying no.  I like to think I am, but truthfully, I am not.  I have discovered this as I have gotten sicker.  I suppose I should have noticed it way back when my blood sugar and endometriosis were my biggest problems.  Specifically, the blood sugar.  I have passed out more times than I’d like in public due to not saying “No, I don’t want to keep walking around looking for a place where EVERYONE wants to eat.  I need to eat now, you all can stand out here and debate it but I’m ducking into this convenience store and buying a snack….”  There were a few times in my mid twenties when I tried this, always inelegantly.  And that is another example of being bad at saying “no”, doing it but doing it badly.

That’s, unfortunately, still where I’m at.  My health problems mean I have to say “no” alot.  These days, I often preemptively decline by avoiding situations which I suspect would lead to a whole bucket full of poorly executed “no”s or worse, going alongs and ending up with hell to pay health-wise.  This gives me the reputation as someone who does not WANT to, rather than someone who cannot.  I’m not sure there’d be a hell of a lot more understanding for me if it was the latter, but I can tell you there is zero for the former.

E.g., my boss sent out an email yesterday letting the office know about a food discount event going on at a local touristy landmark.  Local as in normal healthy people could walk there, wander around, and walk back without it destroying their day or week.  Not local enough for me.  And not something I think I can do.  Walking there and back is one thing, but add in the wandering around a food court full of stuff I  can’t eat anyhow during my lunch break, and if I choose to bring my own food so I don’t bottom out bloodsugar-wise, I will reduce my stamina but a significant amount due to having to lug the extra weight around while I walk and wander.  So this is something that seems like a clear “hell no” but I am reluctant to reply and say that.  I guess I’d like to better understand her point in inviting me.  I’ve discussed these limits with her, it’s come up in the context of work related social events that my boss’ boss’ boss holds periodically throughout the semester.  Does my boss think that my reluctance to attend those big boss events is based in something other than physical limitations, and does she therefore think that I’m like some faker debutante waiting for just the right invite to get off my ass and flounce off gleefully and spiritedly?  Or is she just being polite in inviting her big fat crippled worker along to this particular event?  Knowing which would help me figure out how to say “no”, with some grace and dignity.

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  1. Hi,
    I think you hit-the-nail-on-the-head when you said that most people see people with chronic illnesses as thought who do no want to go, rather than cannot go. In my opinion, this is ignorance in its finest dress. And as you are aware of that ignorance, I’d dare say it doesn’t matter what your bosses reason for inviting you is, it’s only another display of ignorance.
    Best of luck and take care.

  2. Just keep practicing saying no. You know what they say? Practice makes perfect. 🙂

    • LOL, yes! I mean NO. Maybe I can start out practicing it in front of a mirror or video…I’m thinking finger puppets may be involved 😉

  3. I struggle with this, too. I became disabled about 8 months ago and have had to learn to be clear with my friends that all plans are subject to change at any time. The hardest time so far was getting all dressed up to go out to a fancy club and getting a really bad dizzy spell about ten minutes after we got there. We ended up having to turn around and go home. What a buzzkill, but at least I tried and I keep getting invitations, so I guess I’ll keep trying.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  4. U-G-H. I had to learn this when I went from my career to part-time to volunteering to nothing. I hope you can find some middle ground in it all, but I’m such an A-type that has to give 200% that it was either kill myself trying and pay the price by getting sicker OR do nothing but go to doc appts. and CVS, which has been my norm for far too long.

    Oh, I was once told that If I really wanted to do something, I would. So, yes–we are seen as lazy and complacent when I was anything but pre-EDS. Annoying! I wish I had any advice on the job-front, but you know my no-painting-the-building thing = finding a way to deny your vacation after you’ve purchased massively expensive airfare so you’re forced to quit (aka a nicer way of getting fired).

    And, I got lost in the bosses, but what is up with all the weird activities you guys have to do??? That was like a bizarro job I had while horridly sick back home in ’02. The Executive Director was Chinese-American so we all had to go to a museum to learn all about the history of the Chinese in Seattle. Yeah, I already knew the history of the Chinese, the Japanese, the Hmong–give me a break. :/

    • Well, what’s up is that I work in student services, and they are very “programmy”. My immediate supervisor usually isn’t though, so I am surprised by this. Usually it’s not her style. Maybe she’s trying for some office bonding, but you know, not quite hitting the mark. I don’t think they realize the full extent of the very limited diet I am on, and I truly have no interest in breaking it down for them further than “very restricted”.


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