For the first year after the divorce was final, my auto-response to just about every question that flew out of the mouths of my three sons was “YES!” It was an automatic, rapid-fire and knee-jerk reaction to each and every query.
Yes, I will be your room mom!
Yes, I will be the team mom!
Yes, we can still go on vacations, live in our super-sized house, drive our SUV, and eat out at restaurants!
And the one that had me questioning my sanity:
Sure, no problem, I am happy to drive six hours – round trip – to Six Flags Magic Mountain not once – but twice – over back-to-back weekends, all to spend $500 to stand in long lines – in 95 degree heat – to ride a roller coaster that will likely make me vomit!
Like many women, I was haunted by divorce guilt and did everything I could during those 12 long months to compensate for any collateral damage to my boys. Despite my best intentions, all those “yeses” did come at a price. Not only did my face have a half a dozen more stress-induced wrinkles, but I also became the not-so-proud owner of a big fat credit card balance. Neither circumstance was how I wanted to kick off my new life as a single mom. This wasn’t the example I wanted to set for my sons.
After yet another sleepless night, I found myself asking this hard question: What in the hell could I have done with all that money if I had simply said NO? The longer I stared at my year-end credit card statement, the more I realized the power that lives in that simple, two-letter word. No. I began to see that if I embraced the notion that “no” actually means “yes” to something else (e.g., zero debt, a growing emergency fund and/or a retirement account), the results could be life changing.
As women we are told that we can “have it all” and “do it all” and that wearing our “yeses” on our chest makes us a superhero. Although these messages are meant to empower, they actually compound one of the most prevalent issues women face today – the lack of the ability to say “no.” But why? Why is it so hard for women to overcome the guilt and the shame around the word “no”?