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When We Can’t Say No

By Fiona Robertson.  

In my experience, ongoing inquiry is bringing about a much clearer sense of my own boundaries.

I was looking this morning, and the words came, ‘I want nothing to do with this’, accompanied by crying. I saw an image of one boyfriend, who on our first date had an empty wallet. (When the relationship ended four years later, he owed me several thousand pounds).

More images came of the many, many times over the years that I have ignored my body’s instinctive gut reactions – disgust, dislike, or some other “no” – in favour of pleasing, being ‘reasonable’, excusing the other’s bad behaviour. Many are the ways I have dismissed or undercut my natural, immediate responses to the erosion or violation of my boundaries, having never experienced (until recent years) what it is to be healthily boundaried.

As I stayed with the images and feelings, I also saw how my inability to say ‘I want nothing to do with this’ in all those situations made true intimacy impossible. In a way that I still can’t fully articulate, I felt the deep sense of being compromised that comes when we can’t say no, and the lack of intimacy with ourselves and others that results. Finally allowing the truth of this “no” is liberating and enlivening, even if a little scary.

To read more about Fiona Robertson, click here.