The most powerful thing I’ve learned in the last year is the power of the word “no”. It’s in our nature to say “yes”. “Yes” means you’re included, “yes” means you’re helpful, “yes” means you’re adventurous but “yes” as a response has way more significant consequences than “no”. “Yes” leaves you open. “Yes” leaves you vulnerable. “Yes” puts you out there at the whims of others. “No” is finite. “No” says I choose for me. “No” feels powerful.
It took me a long time to be able to say “no” to food (especially emotional eating instead of fuel eating) but once those words became a familiar swirl in my mouth, I dropped them like the “f” bomb. Saying “no” to food that wasn’t good for me was far easier than saying “no” to other things that added no value and detracted from my self-esteem, my identity, and my self-worth.
I’ve said “yes” to some pretty horrible things in the last year as I’ve struggled to find myself in this new skin. I’ve taken chances that could have cost me everything, and still may. I’m a pretty outgoing person. I have a big mouth and a raunchy sense of humor. Losing weight made a lot of the big parts of my personality smaller at least to the world at large. I didn’t know how to fit that big personality in the smaller frame. And even though I loved the attention of comments about my dwindling size, the attention on my size made me anxious in a way that I had never felt before. When I was big and loud and brash, people weren’t looking at my body but that had all changed now and the smallest of glances made me want to retreat. So I started saying “yes” to things privately. I withdrew into myself and became secretive. Saying “yes” to risky things in private allowed me to test this new body and the transformations that were coming along with it. I had spent the first 36 years of my life living outside of myself but now there was this desire to move inward, to test out who I now felt I was becoming and it scared the shit out of me. “Yes” left me open to new experiences but not ones that made me better but made sicker instead.
A year into this journey I’ve learned the power of the word “no”. While everything I thought I was for the first half of my life became a jumbled mess, the word “no” righted that sinking ship. “No”, just because I look different on the outside doesn’t mean I’ve lost my morals, judgment, or self-value. No allowed me to say it’s not OK to treat me this way. “No” said I’m worth more than what you’re giving. “No” said I’m choosing things that are going to make me stronger, healthier, and not break me down. As your body changes and people start to see and treat your differently use the word “no” like a sword that keeps bad things at bay- use “no” as a weapon you use to defend yourself and to fight for the person you’re becoming.