Saying “no”: a codependent’s nightmare


I just listened to a vodcast related to regarding saying “no”. I looked up “how to say no” with the keyword “codependent” and there it was. Yes, I know I am currently enslaved by my codependency but little by little, I’m working on it. No, I am nowhere near breaking free of this madness but bits of progress definitely count.

So what brought me to search the Internet for how to say “no”? H came over to my apartment after his dentist appointment to chat. At one point we got sidetracked with one of my younger son’s school papers when H absolutely insisted that the son did not write the paper (this is about the handwriting – the story was his, just maybe not the writing). I told him I asked the son about the paper this morning and he told me he wrote it. H got stuck in the loop of wanting to be right [oh god, here we go…] and I became irritated as he twisted my words and argued his correctness. Until…I finally said “OK you’re right. I hope we can move past your being right to talk about the thing I was talking about (in relation to our son) before your need to be right usurped the whole conversation.” Of course he had to reiterate ONE MORE TIME how he was right when I’d already conceded. [I don’t fucking care ok? Man! Do you want to continue to argue with me or can we move along…].


I tried to explain to him that perhaps next time we could stop the momentum if he’d tell me why he thought differently instead of getting stuck on being right. Of course he had to turn around and tell me what *I* had done wrong in the conversation [lest he be one-upped] and I thanked him for his feedback.

Wow. I can see he’s made progress here…sarcasm.

The conversation went a little better after that and about 15 minutes after he left, my cell phone rang. “Hey, can we hook up [literal sense] this weekend?” Me:


As I stammered around he said “What’s your reservation? I don’t understand.” And all I’m thinking is

1) here I go, freezing again

2) I really wanted the weekend to myself because my keeping our youngest son the whole week, despite my wicked teaching schedule is wearing me out

3) I was really looking forward to having the weekend to myself [meaning *no commitments*].


After a few seconds I snapped out as he back-tracked and said “it was OK” but I really didn’t hear much of it because I was trying to remember my coping skills which obviously I have not solidified as of yet…I regrouped and said “I will think about it.” This was only after I’d screwed the whole thing up by saying “yeah, OK, sure” and then realized WHOA! Red codependent flag sister! Back the hell up – this only leads to resentment and frustration and you are trying to QUIT this addiction, remember?

I could whine and say “why is this soooo haaaaard?” but it wouldn’t help. It’s going to take me a long time to break these behaviors but I know I have to, I just have to.

Here are my cognitive distortions: I feel like a bad person when I say no. I feel like I am being selfish [as opposed to self-care, which is different]. I feel like I am wrong when I say no. I feel like the pain I feel in making the decision is appropriate. I feel that I should disregard my gut that is telling me I need something. I do not feel that I am worthy of the option to say no. I don’t feel like I have the right to say no. Worst of all, I’m worried about the consequences if I do say no, especially considering the manipulation that I’ve allowed in the past.

Guilt and shame. bleah.

I’m doing so well in many areas, but this is not one of them. Unfortunately. This is addiction. This is not being true to myself. Saying yes when I want – desperately want – to say no, is a LIE. I have to stop lying to myself. It’s true that I didn’t grow up with the skills to work with this because I wasn’t allowed to feel, to want, to say no. But now I am.


I mentioned early in this blog that I had executed my Inner Pleaser last summer but she didn’t quite die so I finished her off this summer. Well, the bitch must be a freaking zombie because here She is again! WTF? Does Chuck Norris do this kind of work? I need big guns man. Big guns.

I’m going to let this marinate for awhile because I have to go pick up our youngest from the house. I’ll bet that when I get there, H will want to do some sort of rehashing and I’m still in my infancy with this sort of thing and I don’t think I have the words or the refinement to deal with it. Yet, I may have to anyway. I need to remind myself of years of saying yes to countless things and feeling bad later. I need to remind myself to be honest with me and with H if I need time alone. Most of all I need to refrain from explaining/justifying why I don’t feel like “hooking up” on a weekend when I just want two damn days to myself. I need to refrain from being defensive and angry, like I am at the moment.

Perhaps I need to refrain from having any related conversation at all, at this time. That would be the smart move. Yeah, I’m really, really smart – but not in this way – yet.


5 thoughts on “Saying “no”: a codependent’s nightmare

  1. Damn, damn, damn hard work you are doin’…!! Damn… Soon you will be able to just say to yourself “Fuck it” and to them/him, “NO~!” (fucking way)… The happiness and satisfaction that lie beyond what we are afraid of beckon. You are in your infancy, but in a very courageous infancy. Amazing how encouraging I find your entries, especially the times when you are recognizing the patterns, even if you don’t make the outward shift then and there. Let’s learn to love that ‘NO!’ word. You go girl!

    • Hehe! Well I did end up sticking to my guns but I will humbly admit I shed some tears. OK, a lot of tears. Hey man, better than burying it right? All I know is that I have a hell of a lot more good days than bad and I’m excited about that.

      And patterns…shoot…please…we’ve got patterns all over the damn place. As a researcher I really dig that! That’s the sicker part of me and I do not know that there’s an academics anonymous…that’ll be next up on my agenda…

      😀 Thank you so much Shantelle! Sincerely.

      • “Academics anonymous” lol
        Let me know when you come across a meeting of theirs 😉

        Those tears were well spent, important, indispensable. The self-care and self-respect moves curiously induce so much…what is it…destruction to our patterns, to our belief that, doing what they want means we are loved. Kicking that belief in the teeth with a ‘No’ is painful for that reason, even though it IS good for us… I tell ya’, the crap I feel when I try to break that pattern makes me want to crumble into a pile of ashes…
        Again, ‘way to go!’ on your guns.

        Man do I have a doozy of a ‘no’ failure to tell about today…will go blog it now.

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