SAYING NO CAN BE THE BIGGEST YES

A mom wrote to me: Saying no could be the biggest “YES” in life….but yet so hard to learn how to say it.

My reaction: There is wisdom in these few words. I struggled with saying no, especially to my sons. “May I take the car?” Yes. “Would you give me a few dollars for gas?” Yes. “Would you, could you, might you….?” Typically I said yes, but ‘yes’ wasn’t always the correct answer. It took Jeff’s addiction for me to learn that often ‘saying no’ can be the ‘biggest yes.’ As Dr. Derbyshire, a psychologist and friend, once told me, “Oftentimes, you are being the best mother when you say no.” This seems obvious, but it wasn’t obvious to me for a long time.

Today’s Promise to consider: I will have the strength to say ‘no’ as well as ‘yes.’ I will keep my boundaries safe and not cave in to pressure or pleas. If I truly believe that the answer should be no, I’ll say it regardless of the reaction that I receive.

 

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penny
penny
10 years ago

This is so true. When my son was living at home I could never say no to him, and if I did he made me feel so guilty that I ultimately said yes. Now, however, I will tell him no when I feel no is the right answer. When he asks for money I can tell him no and that is about the only thing he asks me for. The problem I have now is feeling so deflated when I find out he has been lying about staying clean. How does a mother not allow the actions of her child affect her so strongly? Any suggestions would be welcome. Love to you all!

Pat Nichols
10 years ago

It is never easy to say no to my addicted child. He is so needy, helpless and alone that, as a loving parent, it feels like my guts have been cut out of me, while being FULLY awake, when I tell him no.

I worked and worked on this saying NO thing with my counselor and my sponsor.

The good news, there is a way. The bad news, I had to learn a whole new way to communicate. I had to study, practice my new skills and continue to work hard on ME.

My counselor told me that if I would do what he suggested I will feel good about my NO and that it will likely help my son find recovery sooner because later…………………….just may be too late.

Never give up!

When I pray for my child I also pray for all the children and their families.

Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Penny, Pat, Libby,

Such an important post.

I’ve learned this lesson over and over and over in so many ways in my life. “I know my no’s” are easier when my own boundaries are clearer. As in what do I need not what does my son need not how can I fix or save or rescue but what’s the long term goal here. The answer: Healing.

My husband and I saw a pattern in ourselves –we often said yes because it made us feel better– and we so often wanted to believe– have hope -only to be hurt again and discover the lie.

It helps me if i think of my son as a troubled soul –and he is — as someone with a brain disease and one of the side effects is lying. I can have compassion but I do not have to say yes to any request—-and I can take my time making those decisions.

It is hard to say to a child of yours ( no matter how old) if you have no money , go to welfare, if you have no food go to a soup kitchen, if you have no home go to a shelter and if you wan to kill yourself that would make me very very sad but it would be your choice. (And then live fearing the worst.) And the door is open when you are committed to your sobriety.

So often my yeses were a result of what brought instant relief. as opposed to overall long term healing process. OR based pure and simply: on FEAR– of losing our child.

I learned so much here from Barbara, who has endured the worst and still gives to us in the midst of our journeys.

She says yes to life. Yes to sharing.

I Thank God for Libby;s book and the words here.

My son ( 31) is leaving our home in a few weeks because he cannot commit to sobriety. Watching his struggle under my roof in our home was much harder than I imagined. Telling him no has prompted him to examine his options. Not pleasant. Jail, shelters, the street. Rehab. We are not the rehab he needs. We are just waiting for variance for change of address.

And he has agreed to attend meetings while he is still here. .

The last time he went to a meeting he left the meeting and got high. We said nothing.

He knew we knew and we said nothing.

He asked me to drive him to another meeting today.

IAnswer –Sure. I’Ve got errands to do —I’ll drop you off.

Who knows- he could be meeting a dealer there.

We are not fooled but still think every meeting some little wee piece might sink in.

Yes, no, maybe so. These are our questions.

I pray God for guidance in making wisest kindest decisions. To keep loving the soul of my child and forgiving the side effects of the disease and keeping ourselves strong. ( even as i’m going hour by hour. )

The reverse of “no” is not yes, it is “on’… as in Keep on keeping on. Hope.

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear All,

You probably know the saying in AA, “How do you know when an addict is lying?” Answer, “His lips are moving.”

When Jeff first read a draft of the book, I asked him, “Look at all the damage you caused. Why didn’t you stop?”

He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “You wrote an entire book about addiction and you still don’t get it. I never wanted to hurt you. I love you. I tried to keep you out of things. I never thought of you when I using. All I thought about was my next fix. I’m an addict, Mom.”

Penny, Al-Anon meetings kept me sane. Without Al-Anon, I would have been a different person. The folks in Al-Anon offered me compassion, love and support. Go to a meeting. You’ll find peace there.

Love you,

L

Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Yes, Al-anon!

Penny
Penny
10 years ago

I am going to try to find an Al-Anon meeting on line. My situation doesn’t afford me much time in the evening or any time for that matter. I have only 1-5 on Wednesday and 1:30 – 8 on Sunday. I am going to find the schedule of Al-Anon meetings on those days and see if I can’t get to a meeting in the very near future. Thank You all for your advice and kind words. Love to you all.

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

How I can relate to what Pat said “it feels like my guts are being cut out of me while being fully awake” (when he has to say no to his son).

We all need support groups. As many as we can find that fit our schedules and needs. I “shopped around” for support groups. A few of them were not what I wanted or needed. But, some of them were/are life savers (such as this one, thanks to Libby).

Dear Hope – I feel for you as you go through this chaos with your son. I pray that he will soon get into recovery. I pray that you will soon find the peace you so deserve.

Dear Penny – I’m so glad you’re going to find an al-anon meeting.

Love to all,
Barbara

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Libby,

By the way, the picture you posted this week, of you and your sons, is priceless! Very precious!

It’s little things like the pictures you post, along with your meditations, I always forget to thank you for. Thank you!!

Love to you,
Barbara

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Barbara,

I want to thank you for staying close, for sharing your wisdom with us and for opening your heart to us in your posts. I admire and respect you. I learn from you.

Thanks. My love,

L