(‘I Quit– Episode 3)
So I had quit everyday life, gone home and put up the do not disturb sign.
I had created a space for myself. Phew….
Knock, Knock. Ring, Ring…
It began almost at once and came usually in the form of those irritating and pressure-laden “question-mark words”..why? when? what if….??? followed by helpful (doom-laden) unsolicited advice delivered with just a tiny undertone of judgement to help get me back on track…. Toot!!
I realised I had to learn how to defend my “Telene Space” and to protect myself from everything and everyone “out there” who wanted to pull me back into the collective comfort zone…. (where everyone wears sensible shoes and carries umbrellas for rainy days.)
I could not bring the outside in with me. In essence, I had to create a sanctuary for myself without the pressure, (no matter how well-meaning.)
After all, I could do pressure well enough from the inside, thank you very much.
I had to change both how I thought and the way in which I did things and I couldn’t do that with society’s “shoulds “ raining all over me like lava bombs.
Hmmm. Defend the space. Time to select my weapons of choice…
Rotten tomatoes? (Fun but messy.)
Unleash the killer duck? (Nah, he was too busy loving everyone’s shoes.)
Good old avoidance-and-hope-they’ll-go-away? (I can only hide in here so long and pretend I’m not home..)
I had to step up and to learn to speak up, to find my voice.
(Use your words Telene, use your words..)
Feeling a little bruised and vulnerable (with a fair smattering of “scared shitless” tossed in for good measure), I kept it simple. It became almost a survival strategy for those first few months and I made it a focus.
I practised learning two words: Yes and No.
Generally speaking, the Yes was for me and the No was for others…
It sounds very simple but it was a toughie. It was in fact, a completely upside down and back-to-front experience for me.
Now, I was raised by one of those “nice” families.
(Well okay, someone has to be the odd one out…Hi Mum! Hi Dad! )
I’m sure there’s a little genetic, Moses-like carved stone tablet in our family DNA that reads something like: We have solid morals and ethics. We are never rude and always help out others when an opportunity arises.
Saying no to others was never going to be easy, so I did a lot of practising out loud in my space.
No snails, you cannot sit on my lettuce. No block of dark almond chocolate, you cannot jump into my mouth every time I pass this fridge. No duck, you cannot leap into the bath when I’m in there having a nap…
The no word was particularly difficult when it came to the people I’d worked with. Often it would have taken only a little of my time to get them back on course or to help them climb out of a hole they’d found themselves in, but I made it a priority to honour myself and say no. I pulled on my best, bossy self-talk voice and was very definite with myself. I built strong boundaries and I enforced them no matter what.
(*Warning! Incoming Insight….) I was learning to put myself first.
The lifelong empathy tragic/rescuer/helper had become a selfish cow.
It felt like my whole life had been spent being available to other people, helping others, caring for others.
Now it had to become all about me…..
Watch this space….