In another case of seeing exactly what I need to at exactly the right time, N whatsapped a link to me. It felt like it came out of the blue, but it was 100% related to the conversation we were having, and I knew she sent it to me because I would be able to relate. When I read it though, I felt like I could have written the post. I didn’t just relate to it, it didn’t just resonate, it didn’t ring a bell. It thundered down on me like a cacophony that only a coincidence can create.
That’s when I realised I cannot call this bizarre anymore. These occurrences are plain amazing. Finding just the thing, reading the most insightful piece of writing, looking at the most incredible picture, watching the most eyeopening movie, meeting the exact person, having the most appropriate conversation, cutting through and asking the right questions — too much of this has been happening to me of late, for me to dismiss it as mere coincidences.
So when this link came my way this morning, I had to sit down and take a deep breath. Because it hit home, so very hard. Every single word of it. But especially these:
If there’s a lesson I’m still learning, it’s saying No. It’s not passive aggressively avoiding people and hoping they’ll forget or get the hint. It’s just being honest and saying No. It doesn’t have to be rude or snarky. It’s believing that my opinion and needs are valid. That I am just as worthy to be in this world and have a right to say no. To whatever doesn’t sit well in my gut. To whatever is going to take too much of my time for the moment.
Saying no has been a constant struggle for me. Being told no is hard too, but it’s also hard when someone doesn’t treat you with enough respect to come out and say a clear NO. Some times I’d like to be told up front, like an adult who can handle it. And I really wrestle with the feelings it leaves me with, when someone cannot garner the courage to do it.
I hate being at the receiving end of that kind of passive aggression, I realised. And so I am doing the best I can — consciously working towards not giving out that kind of passive aggression either. We all slip up, and I know I have too, but I’m making very deliberate attempts to examine it every time I feel like using an excuse or slipping in a snarky statement. And then I consciously replace it with No.
What it has meant is reaching deeper within me to communicate honestly, and with utmost clarity. It’s come on the back of a painful realisation that it is only when I respect myself and my needs, that others will too. That’s where boundaries get drawn, it’s how people understand what you’re about, it’s when you begin to truly value yourself.
I realised this when I saw myself losing respect for people in my own circle, every time I sensed they were unable to be honest with me. It takes more work than most of us are willing to admit, but it does get easier with practice, and it results in a lot less wasted breath, energy and time in trying to make sense of passive aggression, and has given me a lot more bliss in the relationships that have endured. I haven’t aced it, I doubt I ever will. But I am getting visibly better at it. And it has had a domino effect not just in my friendships, but in my professional relationships and in the way I communicate with people I work with.
Anyone who has read this blog long enough will know the amount of angst I am constantly battling when it comes to friendship. This shift in my attitude, though, has really lifted the weight off my chest. It has been intensely liberating, because I’ve experienced a level of brutal honesty laced with love that is a heady combination. I have realised that you can only feel it if you can give it. And to be able to give it means to be brutally honest too. To refuse to settle for passive aggression, to stop finding excuses, to completely give up cowering behind feelings you are unwilling to face. But once I’ve started to consciously do that – face up to my irritations, be frank, give nothing but the truth – I’ve felt it come back at me multifold, in the form of solid communication and rock steady interactions. And once you taste that kind of companionship and camaraderie, it’s hard to settle for anything short of it.
PS: Once I read the post, I immediately added Carrie’s blog to my feedly. It’s going to be a favourite, I just know it.