The Midults’ guide to...

Just say­ing no

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENTS -

SOME­TIMES IT FEELS as though we have so much love to give. So much to con­trib­ute. At other times, it just feels as though ev­ery­one wants a piece. And not in a sexy way. The dish­washer wants to be emp­tied. The fridge door wants to be closed. So much ask­ing. And such ‘rea­son­able’ re­quests. Oh, so we are the prob­lem, are we? Well, are we?

Any­way, just re­cently, one of us, (Em­i­lie) – a re­cov­er­ing peo­ple pleaser, is that OK? – was asked to vol­un­teer for some chore that she re­ally felt she could not de­liver on. The other of us (Annabel), is gen­er­ally left alone be­cause of her surly de­meanour. She has a unique abil­ity to ra­di­ate silent fury.

In this in­stance, the com­pul­sive vol­un­teer needed to make it un­der­stood that it would not be pos­si­ble to un­der­take this prof­fered task. But how? How to say no? How to be heard?

‘I don’t have time,’ in­spires an un­spo­ken, ‘ Make time’. Sim­i­larly, ‘ I’m too tired,’ nudges your in­ner de­mon into com­ment­ing, ‘Why would you be any more tired than any­one else?’ And so, in a kind of schvitz­ing panic, she said: ‘I can’t be­cause my shrink told me not to.’ Un­wit­tingly, she played a blinder. How do you ar­gue with that?

If you push and nag and pester then you are threat­en­ing to de­rail some­one’s men­tal well-be­ing as ad­vised by a pro­fes­sional. And that is not OK. And, it seems, the shame in pass­ing on the di­rec­tive of a ther­a­pist is far lighter than some flimsy, flap­pety hand-wring­ing, wrig­gling and squirm­ing.

‘ Will you have sex with me?’ My shrink told me not to. ‘Can you lend me some money?’ My shrink told me not to. ‘Why do you never an­swer the phone?’ My shrink told me not to... Try it. Turns out it’s an inim­itable way to look af­ter your­self. But do us a favour, and keep it to your­selves. Don’t abuse it. Or it will lose its power. And we’ll have to think of an­other way to get out of al­most any­thing.

Brace your­self for 3 De­cem­ber. Whether or not you be­lieve in horo­scopes, Mer­cury is a bas­tard

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