Boundaries – Knowing Our No From Our Yes

At the risk of repeating myself, I am again on the subject of boundaries. Not in relation to a neighbour’s potential overhanging tree. But in relation to wellbeing.

Relaxing In A Sunny Field
Photo by Jackson David on

I have have taken time to do some learning about boundaries over the past few years. Which has been incredibly valuable. But, once again, I am feeling frustrated and annoyed. I seriously am wondering if I am just some kind of sappy walkover, or worse a spongy absorbent doormat. You know, the type to prevent muddy doggo paws from being discharged on the carpet. Or is it that I simply haven’t learned as much as I had thought? Most likely the latter.

So, following a couple days of feeling just completely discombobulated I had a search for ‘why do I feel uncomfortable saying no?’ Lo and behold (meaning, as result, in plain english), I came across the following article from the Harvard Business Review – Nine Practices to Help You Say No by Peter Bregman.

Make Today Great
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It is such a succinct and helpful article. And has clarified for me that when we say no, we’re enabling ourselves to say yes to something else. We all have healthy limits, and should honour them. It offers some fairly straightforward strategem to help undo the continual YES habit, which many of us have perpetuated over a lifetime. I also revisited my copy of the book ‘Boundaries – When to Say Yes and How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life’ by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

This was quite breakthrough book for me personally as a Christian. As for many years I was under the misapprehension that I had to say ‘YES’ to every request made of me. How wrong could I have been. It has taken yet more pain for me to receive the message… I WAS WRONG!

Why Was I Looking

The reason I set about looking for some kind of explanation for how I have been feeling, is because I recognised that I have been here before. Prior to my health collapsing. And I don’t want to be here again. Absolutely not! The persistent doer clearly hasn’t done with me yet!

A Hand Outstretched
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I am in the process of attempting to relinquish a voluntary project – please see my piece – When Enough Is Enough. Having raised a vitally important issue over a 2+ year period, being hated by several parties and challenged as a result. With it contributing to the worst MEcfs relapse I have had since the onset years 2004 to 2007. Drawing the line is extremely overdue and absolutely essential.

BUT folk seem to be under the impression that I can and am prepared to just continue as was, and in fact take more on! Are they completely deluded? I am a volunteer, unpaid. I just think they cannot comprehend what living in your bedroom for 8 months and counting can be like. Going nowhere apart from the hospital. Using the word living is probably an exaggeration.

A Pile Of Empty Boxes
Photo by SHVETS production on

Examples of Past Experience

Over twenty years ago when acting as voluntary editor for a community magazine in Hong Kong. Something I put a huge amount of effort into, whilst raising very young children and with my husband working ridiculous hours. I organised everything. And when not permitted attendance to a meeting which involved editorial decisions, culminating in changes to a print schedule I was not consulted on but expected to implement, I resigned. It left me feeling discombobulated.

Feeling Confused
Photo by Anna Shvets on

In a sales job I held many years ago. A colleague couldn’t deal with the complexities, so I did it for them. With my employer telling me that they knew I was doing their work for them. Did I feel any better about it? No. Just blinking employ people who can do the job and stop relying on the fact that I can do two jobs, cheap skates. I felt discombobulated.

Same with church life pre-ME. I literally ran myself into the ground, whilst also being a working parent and supporting my then recently bereaved mother. Helping in the church here, there and everywhere. ‘See a need/fill a need‘ was my middle name. Arriving looking like death warmed up and no one batting an eyelid. Apart from about one person, who was incredibly considerate and saw the pressure I was under. I left the church. My faith near collapsed. My health went instead. Yes, my forgiveness is complete. But it happened.

Road Closed Sign On Locked Gate
Photo by Travis Saylor on

Am I Still Discombobulated?

A little. But feeling much clearer. I have been attempting to explain that I am no longer bothered about identifying by works. I don’t need works. I feel fully valued in who I am. I need no validation. At one time admittedly I did. But I now identify with peace. That is a complete anathema to some. I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone. I need no accolades. I can see what is gradually being achieved from my campaigning, but can carry it no further. I guess in some ways I went back on my own word by engaging again.

Vinyl On A TurnTable
Photo by Anton H on

I am so disappointed to be here yet again. And disappointed I allowed it to carry on for so long. Who was I doing it for? No one. Just nature, and a bird being unceremoniously evicted from its adopted habitat. I simply took on too much. YES! And without sounding immodest, did it well. Now it’s time for younger legs that can actually walk and go out and about, to take it over. Really. I am done. And must stop being wound in again. I guess our pride stops us. FOMO stops us. Ego stops us. But also not being firm in our NO and boundary stops us.

Stop And Pray
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As a lovely OT said to me during the early days of MEcfs. Be a scratched record. It’s their problem if they don’t accept your situation. You have explained. Once is enough. Continue as a scratched record with NO, NO, NO, NO NO! Only I can say that. No one will say it for me. Apart from friends who know how much this process has taken from me and remind me of the NO word. A heartfelt thank you to them.

It made me feel physically sick reading the inference that I might wish to continue.


Words of Wisdom

My wonderful husband, and carer par excellence, can be so succinct. Basically saying to me, give everyone a week, then shut it down.

I was directed to Mother Theresa’s prayer ‘Do It Anyway this week, which I found very helpful in not holding grudge or blaming people for not understanding my situation. How could they, they haven’t lived it. The link also including Paradoxical Commandments’. by Dr Kent M Keith. Equally helpful. But the fact that I have found the energy to write this piece, highlights my need to pursue the path of less is more.

Trees By A Lake
Photo by Pixabay on

I think I might to have to submit an official resignation to a newly formed voluntary group. It is great that it has been formed, and I have no doubt, that through a united effort they will achieve alot. But some, although acknowledging my involvement in a subject I have learnt an incredible amount about, have also sat on the sidelines whilst watching me drown. Where were you all when I needed support? Voyeurs from a safe, silent and anonymous non-commital distance so as not to be tarred with brush of the ‘disruptor’. I could be bold enough to say that I have initiated proactivity for this part of our ever growing town, (at great cost to my health), but I must retire from these pursuits if I wish to see some reasonable level of recovery materialise. It’s not easy to accept, but accept I must. Folk can ask me questions if they like, but I won’t be swinging back into action. I still care deeply, but here it ends.

Luggage Under A Tree
Photo by FOX on

I officially will not be reeled back in! I confidently hand this on to more capable or incapable hands. Incapable hands learn. I started knowing nothing apart from the fact that I cared. They will learn too. I hereby finally acknowledge the reality of my own limits and will value and respect them ongoing.

Closing Thoughts

Therefore, I the ‘disruptor’ has disrupted accordingly and I now formerly resign, relinquish, down, close, end my ‘disruptor’ role. I herewith say – No, non, nada, ni, nein. To thus enable me to hopefully attend part of a Silent Retreat Day led by Reverend Richard Carter, who has been instrumental in helping my faith develop over the past few months, and which in turn helps me finally realise I am worth more than being drummed into the ground. A fundemental part of being A Nazareth Companion. And maybe, just maybe I will visit my children for the first time ever. And maybe spend more than an hour each day out of bed and actually have a shower a bit more often, and write!!

The Open Road
Photo by Johannes Plenio on

Yours sincerely

Exhausted Former Disruptor

*PS: All the info needed is in the group files. People just need to read it. Offers of admins to hand on to are still eagerly awaited. Sign on the dotted line……………………………………………………….

The End!

Doodle of yellow flower in a mint green flower pot.

I appreciate my readers and listeners immenseley.

More posts will emerge, as my energy levels gradually improve.

Much love

Have a blessed day

Penny signing off

Matthew 11:28-30New International Version

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Addendum: I have today made my resignation from the role of campaigner and disruptor clear to those who need to know. Really pleased. I await offers to take on the social media I admin. It will be an indicator of how passionate people really are, if they are at all. But the message has been delivered. A new season awaits!🌤

2 thoughts on “Boundaries – Knowing Our No From Our Yes

  1. A fantastically well-put together piece. It’s very hard for people who don’t have M.E. to understand how taxing activities of any kind are. It’s also amazing how often you are still approached for all sorts of help and assistance, even when the person making the request knows about your condition. So this piece is so inspirational for someone who has ME or any really disabling disease or condition, in helping them break free of their need to help when they really need to put themselves first.
    It means a lot when someone shares this personal side of their journey, as it means another struggling with similar issues can realise that saying ‘no’ dire not make you a bad person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Nancy. That’s incredibly kind of you to say that. I really appreciate it. So much emphasis is put on doing & achieving, when you say to someone you don’t identify with that they can’t understand at all. Thank you again for your lovely comment. It means a lot. ❤


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