“No” might seem to be an odd thing to be grateful for. Especially for a submissive woman who really likes to please. But in the past year I have learned the power of no – even when it hurts or isn’t want I want to hear or say.
I’m not talking only about my own “no’s.”
I have finally realized/accepted a truth about myself. I used to think I was shy, although I admit, even then, it didn’t feel like it quite fit. I learned, particularly in the past year, that what I am is an introvert. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy socializing. When I finally do get myself “out there,” interacting with people in a social setting, I enjoy it very much! But my enjoyment has a very definite window of opportunity, and when that window closes, I’m done. It could be three nights in a row of interaction, one deep evening of conversation, or twenty minutes at a party. I never know when the window’s gonna slam shut. And then I need time to myself, or maybe, at most, quiet time with a partner, but I really truly need it to regroup. To feel centered and balanced – and able to give of myself again. And I’ve learned that THAT’S OKAY. There are a lot of people like me. It doesn’t make me any less of a friend to say, “Nope, I’m done. Thank you, I have enjoyed myself immensely, but now I need some space and time.
A second part of that is that what I feel about going out somewhere – anywhere, to a party, on a date, even just to meet a friend out for lunch – isn’t shyness either. It is social anxiety. That’s what makes me, 3 hours before I am supposed to go anywhere, do anything, even with my partners, start to feel, well, anxiety. Start to question why I wanted to do this thing I planned 3 weeks ago. What the HELL was I thinking?? This one is trickier to navigate the “when to say no” and when not to, because the thing is, almost invariably, I feel better for having gone and done the thing. Almost. It’s that almost I’m trying to figure out. When is it my anxiety, and when is it a true need for less interaction? But I am grateful for being able to identify these behaviors for what they are, and for learning to know when to say “no.” And hopefully when NOT to.
This is a bit tricky to navigate as well, because sometimes, well…sometimes it means I get to spend time alone that I didn’t want to, or plan on. This shift in the past years has been due to several conditions:
- Me coming into my own as a solo poly woman; embracing it, and him accepting it
- Him starting to date someone else
- Him beginning to know that I mean it when I say he needs to say no when he needs to, for his own emotional health, and mine, and ours as a couple
I think it’s been very empowering for him, to feel comfortable with saying, “no, I need time to myself,” or “no I’ve made other plans,” or “no, that’s not really something I’d enjoy.” And it’s brought a level of trust for me into our interactions, because I know if he needs to, he will say no. I can trust him to be honest, and to take care of himself.
Another tricky one (maybe they are all tricky!) There are two kinds of “no’s.” The first kind, the D/s kind, are always good, even when it’s something I really really want. In fact maybe it’s best when I really want it. I can’t help it, it’s the way I am wired – control is what gets to me. What I get off on. Setting up rules and insisting I follow them is one way to show me that control; another way is the Arbitrary No. How fucked up that I find it so hot to be told no! But, you know, how fucking hot. So that’s the good kind.
The second one, though…that’s a little tougher. And not exactly hot. But it’s one we’re working on it. Or at least I am working on accepting it (sometimes with me deliberately invoking the D/s aspect to facilitate my acceptance of it.) It involves requests by me in which there is a conflict with his wife’s wants and/or needs. Or, conversely, requests from her that are in conflict with my wants and/or needs. (And deciding what exactly ARE wants vs needs, and how important my wants are, even if they aren’t needs.) I’m working on trusting him to make the right decision when there is conflict involved – and on accepting that he has made the right decision for both of us, even if I don’t get what I want at the time. I am so very grateful to have the opportunity for the growth that learning to trust him is giving me.