Dear Reader, You may want to read the previous post, “A New No,” before this one, but not required in order to enjoy! ~ Sara
When friends and family extend invitations, I’m excited about the prospect of a get-together, a barbecue, or birthday drinks. Immediately, I think about what I’ll wear, a major concern following weight gain. Whatever, I’ll think about that later. I’m in – 100%!
It’s not until a day or two before the scheduled event that doubt creeps into my mind. Where will I sit comfortably? What if I’m nauseous? Fatigue is a major symptom right now; am I going to have enough evening energy? When friends ask how I’m doing, what can I say that’s not a wet blanket? If I don’t throw out “fine” or “good,” what will I say?
If I open the door to the topic, my chronic illness and pain may become the subject of discussion, and that frequently begins a game of BINGO. Although I understand that ideas and encouragement are offered out of love, I end up feeling like I need to defend myself, explaining what’s worked and what hasn’t, things I’ve learned and tried previously.
The day arrives, the one on which I’ve been focusing my positive thinking and visualization. Only now, the swirling doubts are intensifying because dealing with all the variables has become immediate. I committed. I accepted that invitation or even extended it myself! I very much planned to go and do. Somehow, after all this preparation, I find myself still with pain and illness in my body, Each time, I feel almost surprised and, oddly, satisfied with confirmation that I am chronically ill. It’s definitely not in my head. There is no reprieve in order to see family and friends.
Now, the challenge presents itself. Do I just push through to keep plans? That has worked recently on a couple of occasions, lunch with my mom and two sisters as well as lunch with my nearly 24-year-old son. There was a price to be paid but worth it, for sure. It helped that both were close to home, early in the day, and the time involved was limited. I’m starting to get nervous about making my tattoo appointment next week, but I will definitely have to push through that.
So, how best to cancel or decline a plan or invitation on short notice after I already accepted. When I’ve taken stock of my current situation, measured that against what would be required of me, and find I’m not able to attend, how do I cancel without offense? How to say “no” after I’ve already said “yes”?
As I write this, I’m thinking that if I was completely healthy but didn’t feel well on a specific day, I’d just call and tell my friend I’m not able to make it. I don’t have to give a lengthy explanation, but I find myself wanting to head off BINGO squares, imagining the person on the other end is disappointed in me. Truth is, I’m the one who is disappointed. Positive thinking doesn’t transform my health on demand. Going forward, if I need to cancel, I will say, “I’m not going to make it today because I’m not feeling well.” Niceties will follow. Most importantly, my best effort will be made to avoid assigning blame or shame to myself.