Learning to Say No

“I think she’s getting herself into another bad situation, and I’m worried she’s going to crash and burn again soon” I said to my BF this past weekend.

“Well, yeah. I don’t even know her and I could tell you that” was his response.

It’s happened so often that I can see the signs now. She avoids telling me things. She tells half-truths to make things seem better than they are. The stories change depending on who she’s talking to. She gets defensive about everything. She’s almost 31 years old, she’s allowed to make her own decisions. I try to keep my mouth shut when she’s making bad ones. It’s her life, she’s the one who has to live it.

Of course, living your life on your own terms also means living with the consequences. Unfortunately, that’s a lesson my sister has never learned. I wasn’t surprised when I got the text last night from Florida, asking me to buy her a plane ticket home. It didn’t make it any easier to tell her no.

My siblings have always been a weak spot for me. I’m known as the more “responsible” one, which means they typically turn to me when they are in a bind. They aren’t to blame for my financial downfalls. But I’ve definitely put myself into some bad positions by my willingness to help them out. And after many years of repeating the same patterns, I’m finally realizing that my willingness to help them out isn’t really helping them in the long run. Helping them out when things are tough hasn’t encouraged them to make better choices, it’s just providing them a safety net for when they fall.

So, I said no. She made a bad decision in choosing to go on a Spring Break trip with a man she isn’t seriously dating (and hasn’t known that long) and his 3 teenage daughters, and now she’s miserable. Technically yes, I have the money in the bank, I could fly her home. She swears she could pay me right back. But if she didn’t, which has happened on more than a few occasions, I’d find myself in a very tight financial spot. I’m not exactly flush on cash at the moment, and most of my money is already spoken for.

Of course, the flip side of saying no is dealing with the worry and the guilt. What if something happens to her? I’ve never even met the man she’s down there with. Is she safe? My guilt is overcoming my common sense. Yes, she could be in a very bad situation. But, it is a man and his 3 teenage daughters. Most likely she’s just unhappy. And she has other options to get home besides me buying her a plane ticket. She has access to some money, so she could take a bus. She could ask my mom for the money. She could look into renting a car to drive back. So far, she hasn’t done any of those things. I think she’s hoping I’ll cave and buy her the ticket.

Sometimes though, the best way to help someone is to tell them no.

– Ms. W

What would you do if you were in my shoes? Have you ever had to deal with a friend or relative who expected you to always get them out of a bind? Do you feel guilty when you don’t help out loved ones?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *