Here’s a troubling trend: The humane universal tennant “NO MEANS NO!” is now “NO MEANS YES IF I KEEP BADGERING AND INSISTING OVER AND OVER AND OVER!”
Let me share a tiny tale to explain my thoughts on “NO!” There is this lass who since September has badgered and bullied me to listen to her gripe and complain. About me. “I’m mad at you and we need to talk,” she said.
“NO,” I replied. “I’m not up to it and I’m taking care of my health.”
“Well, let’s just talk and see where it goes,” she suggested.
“NO,” I reasserted. “I don’t want to hear you tell me I’m a crappy person. My health comes first.”
“You don’t understand. We must have this talk. I’m mad at you and have serious concerns,” she said with greater vigor.
“NO,” I said… again. “Whatever your concerns they are yours. Your wants do not outweigh my needs. My health comes first.”
“I appreciate this,” she said, “but we cannot continue until we have this talk. Again, I’m mad at you and have serious concerns.”
“Okay, let’s schedule a time. When are you available?”
“You’re not hearing me. This talk is going to happen.”
“You’re being unreasonable.”
“Your stubborness is one of my serious concerns.”
“This will only get worse the more you put this off.”
“Since you are refusing, I have no choice but to voice my serious concerns to those who will make this conversation happen.”
“Don’t blame me when drastic measures are taken. I’m giving you a chance.”
“Okay. I warned you.”
“You are a bully. I’m walking away now. This conversation you want will never happen. NO MEANS NO.”
What a chore she is. And her insistent attitude isn’t unique. She is not the only person of late who has disregarded my boundary “NO.” I’ve seen this boundary violated for others, too, including by the same chore of a woman. Even after firmly being told “NO” several times, by her “NO” wasn’t respected. There is a cottage industry dedicated to discussion of “It’s only two letters … what doesn’t she understand about the two letter word ‘NO’?”
Please understand my non-negotiable “NO MEANS NO” is to protect my mental well-being. It was a near-fatal dangerously rough winter with my med-efficacy tanking and the resultant suicidality the likes of which I hadn’t suffered in seven years. Engaging a new therapist to work on my CPTSD and focusing on a new med regimen could not be threatened by any distracting demand.
Please also recognize her unwillingness to accept NO MEANS NO directly contributed to my already precarious mental stability and accountability. Her bullying made this worse. No hyperbole.
My health comes first. NO MEANS NO. Her callous pressure was disturbing.
It’s further disturbing her dismissing my simple boundary of “NO” detrimentally affected not only me. There are real world consequences that affect all peers attending our Stand Up To Stigma Tuesday peer support group. Willfully ignoring the word “NO” destroyed any possibility of a smooth transition of the Tuesday group to the new Far Northeast Heights venue in March. Primacy in this decision of moving the Tuesday group to the Far Northeast Heights has to do with an incredible venue coming available in March and only on Tuesday. Still, this many-month condensed exchange of “NO MEANS NO” is a near-equal factor as well. Instead of being able to continue Tuesday group until March, STS was forced into a hiatus instead. From direct conversation, this has strongly and harmfully impacted many peers attending on Tuesday.
When I shared my life-threatening challenge with my friend Stephie, she surmised Little Miss Grumpy-Pushy was attempting to “regain” power over me, which is a power dynamic I wasn’t aware existed. If there was a competition … well, it’s tough knowing who’s ahead if I’m not even aware of the scoreboard. It’s not the first time a presumptuous and unknown competition missed my attention. I’m not immune to the vagaries of oblivious existence. Nor am I immune to an existence as a community scratching post. Stupid cats. In any case, Stephie had a good point applicable to every genre of bullying.
My take is similar yet diverging from Stephie’s suggestion. The observation I offer is rather than her trying to regain power – power never accepted or on loan – it seemed to me she was attempting with misguided verve to assert unilateral vetoing authority over STS and me. Holding a whole support group hostage for the sake of spite and petulence is both selfish and despicable.
And all because she couldn’t accept the boundary “NO!”
As a metaphoric suspicion, her bullying tactics just might be the product of one of those bullshit three day “Assertivness Seminars” where whatever Big Lots version of Tony Robbins on hand would train anyone with the $500 registration fee to be successful in business and finances, promising buckets of money once graduated, which over time morphed into the more lucrative “Relationship Assertiveness Training” ($1000 registration fee) for folks who feel perpeturally disenfranchised by the universe…
…where these seminar-suckers are instructed “Never be a victim ever again! Don’t take ‘NO!’ for an answer ever again!”
This lass got her three day training, a complimentary set of knock-off ginsu knives, and a half-day pitch for a timeshare in the Principality of Nebraska … and she decided to practice her newly acquired bullshit skill set on me whilst simultaneously envisioning ritually slicing me to bite-size bits with her pseudo-ginsu cuttlery at her timeshare in Nebraska.
Good luck with that. Sell stupid somewhere else. I’m all stocked up already.
I began this tiny tale by teasing a troubling trend and, by the Ghost of Liberace, there is most absolutely a troubling trend afoot.
As a potential parable, my tiny tale has been a fine illustration of this troubling trend. What is this troubling trend? Let me share with you once again what’s troubling me.
Expanding upon the troubling trend, what I’ve observed is the simple word “NO” isn’t respected as an absolute. NO absolutely means NO. Full stop. Instead, there is a permeating sense of expected obligation and myopic entitlement that if – to a bully – the simple boundary “NO” is unsatisfactory, unrelentingly pressing that “NO” is an unacceptable option makes that boundary just go away.
There is nothing good about this. A bully easily erodes the fortitude of a fragile victim. And to a bully fragility is like blood in the water of shark-infested seas.
I said NO, I meant NO, and to replace “NO” I created a new absolute boundary. I’ve permanently ghosted this bully. I gave her a chance to respect my firm boundary of “NO!” And hilariously, I’ve also given her one more reason to be mad at me. How difficult, confusing, and unsatisfying this must be.
For my successful and healthy Recovery Adventure, and with the clarity of crystal, my well-being demands my needs always come first. Little Miss Grumpy-Pushy didn’t respect “NO!” No longer is she allowed to work on STS projects and no longer does she have access to me. A frightening stalker didn’t respect “NO!” He was treated to an eye-assault he will never be able to unsee. A community oversight committee didn’t respect “NO!” Its consequences are ongoing and forthcoming in a most inventive accountability to benefit our peers and our community.
A goofy thought just made it from brain to fingers. Tongue squarely in cheek: This lass, this epitomized embodiment of the “BANE OF NO!”, reminds me of the quinessential uninvited mutt’s lipstick taking liberties of my calf and shin. Get the rolled-up newspaper, swat the mutt’s randy nose, and sternly express “NO! NO! You do not hump legs! NO! Bad dog!”
… yes, I sketched this, just to ruin your childhood.