MY NEW MANTRA is “I’m sorry. I can’t take that on right now.” I wasn’t looking for a new mantra. The words just came to me several Sundays ago as I was getting ready to go to church. I was prepared in case anybody asked me to do anything. Nobody did, not that day and not the Sunday after. So for two weeks I’ve been walking around with a perfectly good response to requests nobody is making.
Truth is, I don’t need to be taking on anything else at the moment. My calendar has been challenged by the addition of weekly trips to OSU for the next few months, trips I’m happy to make, but shifting things around and adjusting commitments takes some work. It is a stressor until things get underway and fall into place. It just is. I don’t like to admit it’s a stressor, though, because people tell me to “just relax,” which isn’t really helpful.
Sometimes all any of us really want is a little acknowledgement. (In my fantasy life, for example, I say something is a stressor and people nod and say, yes, they see how it could be. But that’s just in my fantasy life.)
ON SATURDAY someone asked me to do something, the mere suggestion of which was way beyond the limits of my energy and abilities at this time. I anticipated her request while she was still working up to it and I was glad I was on the phone so she couldn’t read my face.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “That’s a great idea, but I can’t take that on. It’s more than I can handle at the moment.”
I wasn’t quite prepared for what happened next.
I heard “All you’d have to do is…” and “It’s just a matter of….” and “You could find someone to help you.” By the time I got off the call, I had said yes. 😦 Aarggh! HUGE FAIL.
I spent the next half hour trying to piece together what had just happened and figure out who I was most angry with – myself, the caller or the person who’d told her to ask me. (The latter has a history of saying “Ask Marilyn.”) I didn’t know what to do. I knew I couldn’t do the task she asked for and yet I’d said I would.
I should end here and ask what would be the best solution…….but I won’t.
In the end, I called her back 40 minutes later and told her I could not do it. I apologized for flip-flopping, but that it truly is beyond what I feel able to do right now. I said it’s important for me to let people know that and it’s important they hear me when I say it. I was nice. I was.
After that, I sent an email to the person with a history of directing people to me and we had an overdue exchange. It went very, very well.
I WISH I could tie this all up in a tidy bow for you now and say what an important and good experience it was. In truth, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It all felt yucky. Every bit of it.
In my fantasy life, the caller comes back and says what a great example I set. But, like I said, that’s in my fantasy life.
Correction/Addition: Sorry to have been vague about the trips to Columbus. The post was growing long. A few people have asked. The drug Wally’s been on for 5 years is showing signs of losing its effectiveness. The disease has not returned, but there are signs it will in the next year if something isn’t done. He’s entering a new clinical trial to address a specific marker. We’ll go to Columbus once a week for 8 weeks, then once a month for 4 months.