The other N word

I have trouble saying “No,” especially at The Day Job. This has led me to a point where I’m working enough overtime that I’m finding it physically taxing. 

It’s bad enough I can’t compensate for (read: hide) it anymore. The roommate has taken me aside to talk to me about the fact that I need to take care of myself. I need to say no to things.

I don’t know how to do this. No is treated like a dirty word, especially when it comes from a woman. I don’t think it’s intentional. People say “you should say no to things,” but when you say no to them, it’s a different matter. 

I want to say:  No, I really can’t take on one more task for the program right now. I’m not eating lunch. I can barely get away from my desk to go to the bathroom because I’m so busy. Exactly when am I going to get just one more thing done? Staying late? You know I’m already here late, right?

I say: Just put it on my desk. I’ll figure out how to get it done. When do you need it by?

I read an article in Fortune that said women in leadership who say no are seen as cold and ruthless, but men who say no are strong and capable. It’s not just women in leadership. Saying no at work hurts a woman’s image, no matter what her role at work is.

I want to say: No, I don’t want to do anything tonight. This was planned last week and I’m just now hearing about it? I have other plans. Curling up on the couch with a cat and a book and drinking tea is a plan. It’s a mighty fine plan at that.

I say: I’ll dump more caffeine in the system to keep it running. Rest is for the weak anyway. 

Hell, I should be sleeping now, but I can’t. I’ve got a migraine because I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep because I have a migraine and I’m afraid to try to take a naproxen for it because naproxen is hard on the kidneys. 

For the past three nights I’ve been using the heating pad on the small of my back and Biofreeze at the base of my skull because I’m terrified of doing anything that might tax my kidneys too much.

It’s my kidneys that have me trying to sort this whole “No” thing out in the first place. It’s disheartening to feel like I’m living my whole life around protecting my ability to process the toxins out of my body. 

My roommate is right, of course. I need to say no to things in order to get the rest and recovery time I need to maintain my health.

It just feels like I’m Kryten trying to swear when I try to say no.

Damn you, kidneys. You’re not playing fair. The fatigue gets crushing far more quickly than it ever did. I can’t run on borrowed energy anymore. I don’t have any energy to spare.
If you need to find me, I guess I’ll be sitting in the canteen with flash cards practicing saying the other N word. 


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