What Does Saying "Yes" To Yourself Look Like?
BY: TAMI HARPER WINN
Years ago when I came close to dying, my Al anon sponsor shared something with me that I have never forgotten. Every time I say “Yes” to something or someone I am also saying “No” to something else as well. I struggle daily with not being able to say “No” to others, but by her definition I am always then saying “No” to me and my needs. Why is it so easy for me to say “Yes” and give others what they need but it is so hard for me to say “Yes” to me and my needs? Why is someone else more important than me? This is a terrible question I have had to seriously ask myself over the course of this last year. So, here’s what I came up with.
I decided this year would be MY year. This would be the year that I took back my life, with God’s help, and gave me a life I deserved. I started preparing for this months in advance. I started envisioning what that might look like. I watched Louise Hays videos, Wayne Dyer videos, and Tony Robbins videos. I read books by Cheryl Richardson like “Take Time for Your Life” and “Stand Up for Your Life”. I read everything of Marianne Williamson’s and Marci Shimoff’s. I was on a mission.
I started to place myself in a position to see the life I had always dreamed of as being a possibility. I started using positive affirmations and taking one small step at a time testing out these new beliefs I wanted to adopt. Then it came to me. As I began to realize that this year I would be letting go of my beautiful daughter after graduation I realized that God was in fact preparing me for what my future would look like.
I had been fear ridden since I first had children as to what this day would look like. I have made them my whole life. Rightfully so, as my father had made me his - of course I would think like that. But, as we know, it killed my father in the end. Now today, my health is being severely compromised as a result of not being able to say “No” to the things I should and “Yes” to the things I need. By putting myself last, I will bury myself literally. I don’t want to die.
So, what was I going to do to prevent a slow terrible death of suicide by stress? I was going to have to do something drastic and quick. As I prepared for this new year I thought of all the possibilities. Then I made a rough draft of my game plan. Each month I was going to learn something new. Each month would be a month long challenge for me to become the woman that I want to be.
First it starts with maintaining my sobriety. Without that I cannot have any sort of life. So I do enough to care for it and maintain the way of life I have come to enjoy – sobriety. Then I get knee deep into my program of Al anon and work hard at staying on top of my recovery there as well.
If I want the things in my life that I know are good for me, then I have to trust that God will lead me there and guide me as I go. I have to do certain steps in order to get there. So, beginning January 1st, 2017 I started what I call my #YesFast Campaign. I am taking a break from saying “Yes” to everyone else so I can learn to accept the word “Yes” for me. You may wonder how that might work. It works like this:
“In a crowded convention center in Sacramento, California on New Year’s Eve I spotted a very attractive young man only ten short minutes before midnight. As I danced, he danced closer to me and we began to dance together. At one minute before midnight, my eighteen-year-old daughter caught sight of what would probably occur. She tried to intervene and grabbed my arm stating that I needed to be with her. He looked at me and I turned to her and said, “NO”. I planned on spending that last moment lost in someone I wanted to be lost in. At the stroke of midnight my young handsome man from Italy swept me off of my feet and gave me my New Year’s kiss. I will never forget that moment or him. It had been so long since I had felt such passion and such energy just from saying “No” to someone else so I could say “Yes” to me. I did not get his phone number. I did not leave with him. He was but a fleeting moment in the small realm of my life. But, he was the beginning of taking back my life.”
It felt freeing. It felt right. It felt meant-to-be. I was right where I needed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing. I have spent what seems like my entire life living for someone else. I have made my children, for the most part, my very existence. Every move I have made since getting sober over six years ago has been with my daughter first in mind, then everyone else. I wanted to be the best mom and example to her and not let her down.
Essentially I was letting myself and her down without even knowing it. How could I tell her to be true to herself and me not honor what I expected of her? I want to be happy like everyone else. I want to experience laughter and love and passion. I want the whole package like everyone else. I feel guilty for saying that, but I do. My sponsor says, “if it’s for my higher self then it is the right thing to want that for myself”. I must always be conscious of my motives and check them consistently. I am an alcoholic as well, so I must learn the art of balance as well.
On January 1st, 2017 I started my #YesFast for thirty days. I would share with all of my social media friends how I said “No” for the day. I know I had to start with small things and this is how I would hold myself accountable. I am recording my journey and asking if anyone else would like to join me to come along.
I have received mixed responses to my #YesFast but, I expected that. It just fortifies my drive to continue and my belief that I am headed in the right direction. By being able to not cave to other’s wants or beliefs about me and my life, I can gradually learn to make the life I need for myself. No one else is going to give me that life, so if I want it I had better go get it.
I am a woman with a solution today. I am a woman in recovery today. I am a woman worthy of all that is good and lovely in this world. I deserve the best, as much as you do too. That is a very hard pill for me to swallow or even say out loud. However, it is true so I must acknowledge it. I hope you can too.
So, each day I will continue to keep you posted as to how my journey is going. I will take you with me each week as we examine this new way of life. I will pack you in my travel bag as we explore each month together some new part of my world. I want you with me. I want the world to know that they are worth the love they give to others. Marianne Williamson says it best in her famous quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond all measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
~Marianne Williamson’s Return To Love~
I cried like a baby when I first read this. I hurt from a place so deep inside I didn’t know I even had. I longed with a longing I had never known. I felt genuine hope for the first time in what seems like forever. It was okay to love myself despite what the world had told me. I was worth something and that was a good thing. No one had the right to tell me different as they had my entire life. More importantly, I did not have the right to keep my light hidden. It was more painful to hide my light than it was to free it. It had caused many painful things to occur in my life. One of them was that I would douse my flame with alcohol to numb the beauty of that light out of fear. I understood now.
Alcoholic and addicts are some of the most brilliant, intelligent, beautiful, and talented individuals I have ever met. Their light is beyond the most dazzling array of colors you could possibly imagine. There are no words adequate enough to describe a recovering alcoholic or addict. I know it is true that life pounded us. I know it is true the cards got dealt crazy for us. I know that we were told many ugly truths and I also know we believed it all. Our fear has led us down dark roads, but it is our light that we tried to kill and some have even accomplished. That’s how powerful our light is. Without that light, which is more powerful for us than the world knows, we die.
This my year to free my light – to let it shine. I wish that everyone who has ever suffered could see their individual divine light. For me though, its life threatening if I don’t. I want out of the shadows I have kept myself in. I own what I do now. Thank you to my recovery for helping me understand that everything that happens in my life is a direct result of me in one way or another. So, I guess it’s time to make sure that the result is a positive one. Watch out world. Here comes Tami Harper Winn. Watch me shine. This is the year I say “YES” to me.
~Tami Harper Winn~
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