Learning to say NO
Because I’m worth it
After a tough day at the bone and body clinic, I just wanted to rest on my bed but the surrounding noise of my house from the washing machine, neighbours, cock–a–doddle, traffic and shop was too intense – it was impossible. So, I slowly hobbled to the beach for a float in the water. My body was aching, my mind was full of disturbing emotions, and I was completely fed up.
The pain and challenges I experienced at the clinic, brought up childhood memories of surgery after surgery, pain, abuse, bullying and loneliness. But mostly I was disappointed in myself for accepting my disability and thinking my leg was just like that – I had struggled through life for 53 years when I didn’t have to!
Resting on the sand to dry off, I noticed a mother and child arrive and plot up near me. The mother got busy on her phone and the pretty little girl with blond curls, who was about seven years old got busy playing with her shovel and spade. Then another mother dropped off her daughter who was also about seven and they started building an elaborate sandcastle. Shortly after, another mother dropped off another little girl roughly the same age who was excited to join in the sandcastle fun. The first little girl started to bully her by pushing her away, and then the second one also joined in pulling her hair. Soon the two of them were finding fun by picking on her. This little girl just continued to play as if nothing was happening and was laughing and smiling. She was happy to be playing on the beach with her friends, but she also knew she had no choice – her mother had left her there. But I could see in her eyes that she was hurt. The mother then gave her child a packet of crisps and the two of them sat down on the beach munching away, leaving the third little girl out. “They are bullying her,” I told the mother unable to keep my mouth shut. She looked up from her phone “Share the crips with Lucy” she told her daughter, and went back to her phone. She begrudgingly gave Lucy one crisp from the packet, which Lucy took, moved away and sat on a rock savouring every little nibble.
This took me back to my childhood and the way the other kids treated me – spastic, hop-a-long, you can’t play with us you cripple. Then it dawned on me that this is the beginning of how we learn to accept unacceptable behaviour – just to fit in and have friends or because we think this is how we should be treated. When I was seven and crushed my leg, I accepted a lot of bullying because I thought it was the way a deformed person is treated- just like the one’s who wore glasses!! I couldn’t play like the other children because I couldn’t run, ride a bicycle or do sports, so I was never asked to join in anything and was only asked to play out when their friends were unable to or on family holidays. Being happy to have a friend to play with I accepted this and that was the start of me thinking that I was not good enough, I didn’t deserve the best – I was second choice.
This carried on throughout my life and I accepted I was second best and should be grateful for crumbs, which shattered my confidence. I didn’t fit in with any groups or gangs and became a bit of a loner. But that helped me a lot later in life because I learned to be happy alone and had no fear when I bought a backpack and travelled around the world for 20 years. When I first discovered Dharma teachings, it was that childish classroom mentality again and I was quick to put up my barriers and had no interest to join the groups of friends already formed and served the Guru instead. And I guess that is why I prefer to be with nature and animals and started my street dog health project. These two projects kept me very busy and I was happy putting other people and the dogs first, but I didn’t notice that my own mental and physical health was deteriorating.
When I started at the bone and body clinic it was the first time, I was doing something just for me and putting myself first. I deserve this I would tell myself every morning when I arrived at the clinic. As I struggled through the strenuous exercise regime and noticed the changes in my body, I could not believe how I had just accepted my deformity – this opened a big can of worms and I started to realise how I have accepted a lot of things that are wrong and how I let people use ole reliable me. From now on boundaries are going down. It’s not easy to set boundaries because people don’t expect me to say NO! But, now at 61, it’s time to put myself first. If I lose friends then they weren’t my true friends just people who used me for their own gain. My true friends will still be there and I prefer to have a friend that loves me for me, not a friend that needs me for their personal use.
That wraps up my knee replacement … Never series, I hope you enjoyed reading it and maybe got something out of it for yourself. Never let others define you and put you in a box. we are changing every day and hopefully for the better.