On quitting drinking… when I’ve never had a drink [How to make self-care non-negotiable]

by Charlotte on June 30, 2014 · 35 comments

circusmonkey

This is a Polish proverb that says “Not my circus, not my monkeys!” My sister posted it and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s brilliant really. 

I’ve never drank alcohol. (I was going to write that I’ve never tasted alcohol but then I remembered the Nyquil I used to drink to get some relief from the flu and if you believe Justin Beiber, sizzurp is pretty much on par with top-shelf liquors. So, there’s that.) It’s a religious thing – I choose to follow the LDS dietary code and abstain from alcohol, smoking, coffee and tea – but it’s also a life thing. Thanks to spitting in a tube (which was way harder than you’d think, I have terrible aim), I know that I carry the genes that predispose me to alcoholism. I also have a family history of it and after watching some of them struggle to fight that demon, it’s pretty much convinced me that lifetime sobriety is my best bet.

There’s also the issue of my addictive personality. While I might not be addicted to booze or drugs, in the past I’ve been addicted to exercise, caffeine, sugar and TV watching (don’t laugh), among other things. (Okay and smelly nail polish. I went through a phase of life where I swear I owned 20 different scents. Until I realized how weird toe sniffing was. It’s hard to sniff your own toes and it’s a rare friend or partner who wants to go around sniffing yours. Strangers definitely don’t want you to stick your feet in their face so they can smell your toes. Not that I’d know from personal experience. Ahem.) Which is how I found myself reading an XO Jane essay called “Are you thinking about quitting drinking?” I won’t say that I totally understand it (because that would not be true and also trivializing people who really are taking steps to be sober) but I still got a lot out of it!

The author, Mandy, talks about how she didn’t need to hit rock bottom in the stereotypical blacking-out-and-waking-up-in-a-foreign-country-after-punching-your-mom-and-stealing-a-credit-card kind of way to know she had a problem with drinking. For her it was mostly that the drinking made her feel passive, acted upon and quitting drinking made her feel in control. “Everything is illuminated sober,” she cheered.

But my favorite part was when she tells how she explains her sobriety to her friends and acquaintances — a tricky thing in a culture that puts so much emphasis on “liquid courage” as both a social and sexual lubricant.

She writes,

And I discovered that a rich personal after-hours life is in fact possible without drinking. Of course, sometimes it involved me saying, “No, I’m good.” Or “I’m just going to stick with water for now.” Or “I’m going to pass on drinking tonight.” Or “If you are really telling me that I should ‘just go home’ if I don’t drink, then let’s call this blind date a bust, shall we?”

The old me, before I decided to actually make a commitment to sobriety and turn it into this non-negotiable thing, would have seen all these pressuring situations as ones I couldn’t possibly wrestle my way out of, and besides there was probably a good story to be gained, don’t you think? The new me realized that I could respect myself enough to honor commitments that I had made to myself. [Emphasis mine]

What would it look like, to make a commitment to myself and make it a non-negotiable thing? I’m not very good at keeping commitments to myself actually. I, like many people, will give up what I want or need in order to make someone else feel more comfortable. But that’s gotten me some really bad places in the past. At best it’s found me ordering something at a restaurant I didn’t want because what I really wanted to order made my dining companions feel guilty. (I’m sorry, I’m that girl that always orders a salad! In my defense, I genuinely love salads. I always have. And they’re kind of a pain to make so I get all excited when I have someone else to do all the chopping and mixing. Plus I’m a sucker for any type of food that is just a big mish-mash of stuff thrown together with sauce on it. I’m not trying to make some kind of health statement, I just love allll my food to touch!)

At worst, it was watching my abusive ex-boyfriend cross every boundary I set just to see if he could. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want it. And I felt completely wrecked when he took it to the dark place he did. But I didn’t respect myself enough to get out of the relationship when things started to get bad. (Note: I’m not blaming myself for being sexually assaulted. He did what he did. But I do think it can be good to look back and realize the choices I made that helped put me in the vulnerable position I ended up in. It helps explain it, it doesn’t excuse it.) In the end I didn’t respect myself enough to honor the commitment of safety I had made to myself. I stayed with someone who had many times expressed violent intentions because I thought he needed me more than I needed me. 

Thankfully today I’m happily married and no longer in the dating game. But there are so many other ways that I think others need me more than I need me. Work, children, church, school — all of these things will take as much I will give them and it will still never be enough. They will always want more from me.

So what would it look like to me, if I made some aspects of self-care non-negotiable?

It means not ever feeling like I need to apologize or excuse it. I’m an introvert which means that while I love love love being with people, it takes a lot of energy out of me. I need a significant amount of quiet solitude to feel happy and healthy. So sometimes that means turning down social or volunteer activities because I just can’t. I often feel guilty than I’m turning something good down to just… sit in my silent bedroom. It seems like a waste of time. But taking care of me, recharging my batteries, is not a waste of time. In the past I’ve felt like I need to make up a white lie (“I’m feeling sick, I need to lie down”) or apologize (“I suck as a friend, I’m sorry!”) but I think people would be okay if I just said “I need to be by myself for a bit.”

It means not letting other people “fix” me. Everyone has things they need to feel happy and healthy. Sometimes those things don’t line up with another person’s and that can make us feel like there is something wrong with us, that we’re broken. But being different is just different. It isn’t bad. We’re not broken, we don’t need to be fixed. Or if we do need a tune up, we are the ones that should initiate the fixing! It means standing up for myself.

It means accepting that sometimes other people will feel bad. People hate to be told no! Of course your boss/friend/partner/child won’t like it when you draw a boundary that doesn’t make it so they get what they want. They may be mad, sad, frustrated, mean, silent or histrionic. You can’t control how they feel. And their feelings don’t get to dictate what you do. Of course you should care about other people’s feelings but we need to accept we can’t make everyone happy all the time.

It means knowing what I need and which things are non-negotiable. Of course this is the hardest one! For example, I’m a girl who needs her sleep but that often gets cut short because of work or blogging (like….um, now. It’s 12:20 in the morning! Hi!). So is that something I need to make non-negotiable? Even if it means some things don’t get done? And what about stuff like work that is non-negotiable in its own way? I’m still figuring out my list but it’s already clear to me that I’ve got too much stuff on it! A self-help guru, who’s name I can’t remember, once told me that we should limit our “absolutely must-do’s” to 3 things a day or otherwise our brains get overwhelmed. My ADHD brain might need to just focus on 1 for right now…

TL;DR: Not my circus; not my monkeys. 

Help me out – what things are non-negotiable to you? Anyone else struggle with getting addicted to stuff in general? Anyone have a good line to use for telling someone that you can’t do what they want?

 

 

 

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Tuuli June 30, 2014 at 2:16 am

Thanks for a timely reminder! I need to leave a flatshare I’m not happy with any more and have been feeling guilty about my flatmate and landlord having to find and get adapted to a new person but at the same time this is a case of own oxygen mask first. And your post made me feel a little better about it.

Re addiction, I stupidly installed Sims on my new tablet. I was ill, I needed to pass the time. Now I have to take care of fictional people staying fed and bathroomed. I feel like an idiot – an addicted idiot.

I don’t have any good lines for anything but I’m also a non-drinker, and a vegetarian, and I’m so bored with having to explain myself that I tend to just go “boring, move on”. If they don’t…sometimes you need to repeat the message _a lot_ until they realise you’re not going to engage in a lengthy conversation about values and lifestyle choices. Most people get the message pretty soon though.

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Joemama June 30, 2014 at 8:17 am

Bwahaha to the Sims addiction. I conquered my Sims addiction years ago. Now, my boys have a Talking Tom addiction on my phone. He’s always hungry!

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Our addiction is “Pou” that stupid, well, piece of poo. I know, I know. I’m embarrassed for my children. For all of us, really! Sometimes his “feed me” grunt wakes me up in the middle of the night and I’m like I did NOT go through four infants just to feed a pou in the middle of night!!

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JLVerde June 30, 2014 at 8:23 am

Oh, the Sims 2 was my drug of choice a few years ago. I don’t like to willy nilly toss the word “addiction” around but I was obsessed bordering on addicted to Sims 2. I miss it sometimes but, thankfully, I can’t go back. I tried and the “thrill” just wasn’t there anymore (which is a good thing for my mouse clicking finger–I think I was working on some major carpel tunnel!).

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:24 pm

I think electronics can be legit addictions for sure. I pretty much lost a year of free time to Final Fantasy VII. Good to know that it wasn’t the same going back!

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Oh good I’m so glad! It’s so funny but sometimes someone just giving us permission to take care of ourselves is all we need;) And I dig your “boring” line! Also… I too totally understand the Sims addiction. Not for many years but I remember that feeling!

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Darwin June 30, 2014 at 4:07 am

About 780 B.C. the Lord spoke to the Israelite prophet Jonah, saying “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:2).

What did Jonah do?

Jonah essentially said: “Not my circus, not my monkeys!” and “fled from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:10).

Jonah quickly fled in the opposite direction from Nineveh, toward the seaport of Joppa, where he boarded a ship headed for what is probably present-day Spain. (Tarshish) But the Lord gave Jonah a second chance. He first sent a storm to halt the ship’s progress at sea (see Jonah 1:4). As the ship’s crew began to fear for their lives, the captain became convinced that God’s wrath toward someone on board was the cause of the storm.

The crew and passengers cast lots and when it became clear that Jonah was the guilty one, the crew asked Jonah, “What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us?” (Jonah 1:11). Jonah now realized that his efforts to hide from the Lord were futile and replied, “Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you” (Jonah 1:12).

Resigned to his certain death, the men threw Jonah overboard. As Jonah sank into the water, the storm immediately ceased, and a “great fish” sent by the Lord suddenly appeared and swallowed Jonah, thus preserving his life (see Jonah 1:17).

In a memorable if smelly fashion.

For three days and three nights Jonah was in the belly of the fish. He humbled himself and acknowledged his sin.

With strengthened faith in God he resolved: “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).

In the first week in June, three RCMP officers were killed in the line of duty by a gunman in Moncton New Brunswick.

It is always so very very sad and tragic when such a thing happens. It is dangerous to be in law enforcement.

A report published by the RCMP on Friday May 16, 2014 found that there has been a total of 1,181 reported cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women over the past 30 years in Canada — a number the RCMP concedes “exceeds previous public estimates.”

So…it is even MORE dangerous to be an aboriginal woman than it is to be in law enforcement.

Why?

Because statutory protections, legal obligations to investigate and protect, etc., somehow do not apply to aboriginals in general, and the women are very vulnerable.

Because…basic human rights? For natives? Not so much.

Because too many people say: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

As an aboriginal man, it is to the point that I feel lucky when I get common courtesy.

As a big strong guy, I am very capable physically…except I never had more than the basic instruction (struggle to stay afloat/struggle to move forward) in swimming.
In the fourth grade, indoor pool – after our “tread water” lesson and we had some time to practice on our own, I was poolside because I was very tired, and a friend came running up to me to tell me one of our other friends was drowning.

He came to me because he was at a lose as to what to do, and he knew I would care. I looked around and the instructor was off helping someone with a problem that was not-in-the-pool.

Would VERY much have preferred a professional in this situation given my lack of capability. And my drowning friend was mid-pool…in the deep end.

I dove in, and as I saw my friend thrashing under the water, the only thing I could think of was to come up under his feet and shove him toward the edge.

His thrashing in the water involved panicked, adrenalin-fuelled kicking.

A whole lot of “ouch” was involved, as I got the stuffing kicked out of me, and the air kicked out of me, while submerged trying to shove my friend toward the edge.

Finally, we got there.

Later in life, still having only the basic swimming skills of struggling to stay afloat/struggling to move forward…I had occasion to rescue four? five? more people from drowning, only in lakes.

In lakes, oceans, rivers, etc., I hate going into water over my head.

And at EVERY beach I have ever been to…EVERYBODY there who swims CAN SWIM BETTER THAN ME.

If there are 100 people on the beach (including me) 99 of them can swim better than I can.

So when a person cries for help…way out at the marker buoys (or beyond)…given my lack of ability and my fear of deep water and the fact that EVERYBODY else is more qualified…

….ALL those times…everybody who was actually MORE qualified than me…said: “Not my circus, not my monkeys”.

This exact thing happened on one of my early dates with she-would-be-my-wife-and-then-my-ex.

She noted my hesitation as we approached the beach where we were meeting a group of friends. She asked me what was wrong.

I explained: I suck at swimming. I have a fear of deep water. EVERYONE can swim better than me, and yet it seems every time I come to a beach, I wind up diving in because everybody else ignores the cries for help.

Just then, someone out on the marker buoy screamed for help.

“You mean…like that?”

“Yes….Exactly like that.”

I look around. Probably 200 people on that beach.

Annnd….nothing. Not even an acknowledgement of the screamer, let alone a leap to the rescue.

“You’d better get going Superman. You’re being paged.” she said.
Much terror later, the drowning person and I were back on shore.

I almost drowned myself doing that one time.

So I understand the terror involved.

Even though people don’t help me. I can’t NOT help them.

I could never leave a person in that kind of situation…that state of sheer terror and panic, desperately needing help, seeing that nobody was coming because nobody cared. People so full of “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”

I read the lesson of Jonah.

I don’t need to live it to get the point.

“But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed.”

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Sara June 30, 2014 at 5:05 am

Just after i read your post…. this came up. http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/06/29/16-things-you-shouldnt-have-to-justify-to-anyone-else/

And the very first one is “Why you are putting yourself first”

For me its hard to get my head around the fact that being selfless can be as bad as being selfish. Its gotten easier since i have started thinking of rephrasing /rethinking things as my inner me being a person in its own right and making my self treat that person the same as i treat everyone else – ie no less important. The visualisation of a seperate person in me, weirdly, helps me.

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Ah I LOVE THAT POST. You just made my whole day – it was exactly what I needed to hear:) Thank you Sara! I especially love the Michelle Obama quote he used. Will def. try your visualization technique of treating ourselves like we’d treat any other person.

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Tamara July 1, 2014 at 8:32 am

Thanks for sharing that, Sara!

Charlotte, love this post. Self care rocks! <3

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Naomi/Dragonmamma June 30, 2014 at 5:09 am

I’ve never had anyone give me a hard time about not drinking. When people ask me why, I tell them that the only effect it has on me is that it makes me say stupid things and then fall asleep, and then I feel gross when I wake up. No more explanation needed.

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Hahah that’s the best response ever! It’s like daring them to try you and either way you get to go to bed early;)

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Dad June 30, 2014 at 5:54 am

Liked your thoughts a lot! Also liked the Jonah-quoting guy’s comment. Question: how do we keep from melting down from too many demands while also learning/growing from stepping outside our comfort zone?

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Darwin June 30, 2014 at 9:35 am

Hello Charlotte’s Dad!

Jonah-quoting guy here!

I feel it’s safe to assume “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee was standard reading in the scholastic experience in the U.S. of A.?

I LOVE the movie! Atticus Finch, as portrayed by Gregory Peck, was voted by the American Film Institute to be the greatest hero in American film. He beat out all of the action heroes! [AFI's 100 Years - 100 Heroes and Villains]

In the book, the next day after the verdict against Tom Robinson, the neighbor Miss Maudie invited Jem and Scout and Dill over for some cake, because she knew how upset they were.

And Miss Maudie took opportunity to tell Jem: “Don’t fret, Jem. Things are never as bad as they seem. (pause) “I simply want to tell you there are some men in this world who are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.”

Jem replied, in part: “…I always thought Maycomb folks were the best folks in the world, least that’s what they seemed like.”

Miss Maudie answered: “We’re so rarely called on to be Christians, but when we are, we got men like Atticus to go for us.”

So then..the acts of Atticus would get all of Maycomb to heaven?

Pretty sure not.

Dump everything on Atticus? Let him shoulder the load alone?

*THAT’S WHY people melt down from too many demands.

And for all his remarkable efforts…Atticus lost.

Even his INTENT to help Tom Robinson was violently opposed.

How would the story have ended if Atticus had help? If the people looked BEYOND their “Not my circus, not my Monkeys!” mindset?

And what if the rest of them took being Christian seriously and looked beyond their hate to actually SEE that by the evidence, Tom Robinson was innocent?

And the logic and truth of that spread? And support grew?

The case would have been laughed out of court.

Many hands make light work. No burn out for any individual.

Save the ones who are left to do it all.

While I was attending BYU there was a huge problem with “frats” that got downgraded to “social clubs” but still operated from the frat mentality: booze, drugs, strippers, lawbreaking, sexual assaults. Beating prospective members who rushed these clubs and threatening and beating any witness who might report them.

And these were all people who signed the Honor Code.

My freshman roommates often returned bruised and bleeding. Upon inquiry, I learned this was the result of rushing these clubs, and that they feared losing the $200.00? the paid for the privilege.

“I said, there people use and abuse and beat you and you PAY them to do it? You should have talked to me first, I would have done it for half.”

They said that I was making it all sound so stupid. I assured them that it was.

I found out what I could and then went to the Dean of Student Life who was in charge of standards and enforcing the Honor Code. She said that the tires on her car had been slashed to warn her against investigating them. She also said that everyone was too afraid to let their name stand as a witness.

I said that I would let my name stand as a witness.

I got threatening phone calls promising a nasty death for me. I replied that WHILE they were attempting that, I would rip out their lungs and thread them through their ears.

They hung up.

(So they lost the witty repartee portion of the proceedings.)

It occurred to me that perhaps a little less than half of the students at BYU were male, plus many of the professors, and other staff, security, along with the bishoprics and stake presidencies called from the local communities for on-campus congregations. And a portion of the student population was local, so parents and relatives.

So why was I risking life and limb…alone?

“Not my circus, not my monkeys!”

Just saying.

“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” (Luke 17:33.)

“In other words, he who lives only unto himself withers and dies, while he who forgets himself in the service of others grows and blossoms in this life and in eternity.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley [Ensign, August 1982]

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Darwin July 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Exodus 18:18 “Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.”

This goes back to my example of Dump everything on Atticus? Let him shoulder the load alone?

*THAT’S WHY people melt down from too many demands.

Many hands make light work. No burn out for any individual.

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Thank you Dad! You’re right, there’s definitely a balance between giving too much and giving too little. Selfish vs selfless. I’m constantly trying to find the right balance but I’ve found that when I keep my priorities at the front of my mind (like my family!!) then life usually sorts itself into one category or the other. Love you!

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Darwin July 20, 2014 at 2:07 pm

The following is part of the text of the address President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave July 13, 2014, at the Pioneer Days Celebration in Ogden, Utah.

All is Well

The pioneers looked out for one another. They cared for each other irrespective of their social, economic, or political background. Even when it slowed their progress, even when it caused inconvenience, even when it meant personal sacrifice and toil, they helped each other.

In our goal-driven and partisan world, individual or party objectives can sometimes take precedence over taking care of fellowmen or strengthening the kingdom of God. In today’s society, reaching certain ideological goals can appear to be a measure of our worth. Setting and achieving goals can be a wonderful thing. But when success in reaching goals comes at the expense of disregarding, ignoring, or hurting others, the cost of that success may be too precious.

The pioneers not only looked after those in their company, but they considered those who came after them—they planted crops for the wagon trains that followed to harvest, whoever those harvesters might be. They included people of all walks of life.

They learned the practical benefits of helping others. It must have given them comfort to know that just as they reached out to others, when the time came that they needed help, others would reach out to them.

In our day, it is easy to isolate ourselves, look only to our own desires, and discount the interests of others. The pioneers knew the strength of family and friends. And because they depended on each other they became strong. Friends became family. They knew that becoming insulated and thinking primarily of themselves was a road that would lead to almost certain disaster.

In our world, examples of self-interest and self-indulgence are so abundant. It is very easy to slip into that mindset. The pioneers serve as a good reminder of why we must break away from the temptation to isolate ourselves and, instead, reach out to help each other.

We must have compassion and love for one another.

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Darwin July 18, 2014 at 11:57 am

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I have only one desire, and that is that while the Lord gives me strength I may serve Him faithfully and well through service to His sons and daughters, you my brethren and sisters. To that end I consecrate my strength, my time, and whatever talent I may possess.”

“The story of Caleb and Joshua and the other spies of Israel has always intrigued me. Moses led the children of Israel into the wilderness. In the second year of their wandering, he chose a representative from each of the twelve tribes to search the land of Canaan and bring back a report concerning its resources and its people. Caleb represented the tribe of Judah, Joshua the tribe of Ephraim. The twelve of them went into the land of Canaan. They found it to be fruitful. They were gone forty days. They brought back with them some of “the firstripe grapes” as evidence of the productivity of the land (Num.13:20)
They came before Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel, and they said concerning the land of Canaan, “Surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it” (Num.13:27)”

“But ten of the spies were victims of their own doubts and fears. They gave a negative report of the numbers and stature of the Canaanites. They concluded that “they are stronger than we” (Num.13.31). They compared themselves as grasshoppers to the giants they had seen in the land. They were the victims of their own timidity.”

Numbers 13:31-33

31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Then Joshua and Caleb stood before the people and said: (Num. 14:7-9)

7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
8 If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
9 Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.

But the people were more willing to believe the ten doubters than to believe Caleb and Joshua.

Numbers 14:10
10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones…

Then it was that the Lord declared that the children of Israel should wander in the wilderness forty years until the generation of those who had walked with doubt and fear should pass away. The scripture records that “those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord.

“But Joshua … and Caleb … , which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still” (Num.14:37-38). They were the only ones of that group who survived through those four decades of wandering and who had the privilege of entering the promised land concerning which they had reported in a positive manner.

The Prophet Joseph once declared, “Where doubt is, there faith has no power” (Lectures on Faith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985, p. 46).

My point being, we can never afford to let fear dictate our actions.

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Holly June 30, 2014 at 6:59 am

Making self care non-negotiable is tough. I recently discovered I feel better when I eat gluten free. In the past I would always eat just about anything out of politeness, even when I knew I wouldn’t feel good later, but with gluten that just really isn’t possible. There have been many times I have had to put my foot down and say “no” and that is a very uncomfortable place for me to be, including one time that culminated with a family member crying because I was going to make my own meal instead of eating hers that contained gluten. She knew I had stopped eating gluten, but thought I could make an exception? Her feelings were hurt because she had spent a lot of effort on the meal. But you are right, I guess I need to accept that sometimes people will choose to feel bad. All I can do is try to say no as kindly as possible, but I do have to say no.

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:33 pm

I love this example! I’ve totally been in that position before and some things I can compromise on but with dairy I have to be pretty strict. I felt like a goober picking cheese off of each salad leaf on my plate but it was preferable to hours of pain afterward! I had one person ask me why I just couldn’t take Lactaid and I was like I’d rather just skip the milk… So glad you stuck up for yourself and you did it in the kindest way possible!

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Cavy June 30, 2014 at 7:55 am

Yay! Another non-drinker! *hi-five*

I also don’t drink, because my father is an alcoholic and it is a huge fear of mine to either end up like him or marry someone just like him. When I was spouse-hunting, my #1, biggest requirement (before even having something in common with me) was that he not drink. At all. This worked crazy well as I didn’t even date anyone who drank, which meant I didn’t date anyone, which led to me marrying my first boyfriend at age 20. Hah! And people thought I was making things too hard!

I have made leaps and bounds in setting boundaries, but I still struggle with, yup, my dad. Like just last Saturday I spent the first couple hours we were at some bonfire just fuming because I’d wanted to refuse to go but he’d guilted and obligated me into going, and I didn’t set as many boundaries as I should have. I did set some; I refused to stay the night down there with him, insisting we had to drive back, because then he couldn’t drink and I hate being around him like that. So . . . that’s a work in progress that’s coming along.

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm

*Air fives*!! It always seems like those closest to us are the hardest to set boundaries with, right? So glad you stuck up for you and what you needed!

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Heather C June 30, 2014 at 8:03 am

I don’t drink and always find it funny in social situations how much people feel it is their right to know why. There is this comedian who does a bit about not drinking and how people don’t question you that way about anything else. “You don’t like mayonnaise? Are you addicted to mayonnaise? Is it okay if I use mayonnaise?” Made me laugh.

I probably have a Diet Coke addiction which I have been trying to kick the past year. The fact that it is all chemicals just can’t be good but it has become such a crutch for me. I think I use it to keep myself from not eating when I am stressed. I am working on it. As for non-negotiable, right now with twin 2 year olds, I insist upon going to the bathroom by myself and I wait until they nap, no matter how late it is, to eat because for my sanity I need at least one meal a day where my butt stays on the chair for the entire meal.

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:37 pm

“Are you addicted to mayonnaise? Is it okay if I use mayonnaise?” – DYING. I love it. And it’s so true. As for your solo bathroom time, stick to your guns girl!! Some days that was the only time I ever got to myself. But it gets better, I promise:)

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Tamara July 1, 2014 at 8:36 am

Ha, love the mayonnaise analogy, Heather!

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AdjustedReality June 30, 2014 at 9:49 am

I saw someone post the “Not my circus, not my monkeys” thing on facebook about a month ago, but I don’t remember who. And I love it. It’s a much better way to say “not my problem”, but I’ve gotten pretty good at that. While I’d like to change the world sometimes, I have to realize that focusing on what I can do on my little sphere of influence is much more useful.

Sleep is non-negotiable for me. If I get less than 8 hours one day, I’m definitely getting more than 8 the next day.

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:38 pm

I LOVE this: ” While I’d like to change the world sometimes, I have to realize that focusing on what I can do on my little sphere of influence is much more useful.” So true! And I hear you about sleep. I need my 8 hours too!

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Azusmom June 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm

I first hear the “Circus” saying the other day, and boy howdy, did it make an impact! Not a just a light bulb turning on, but a door opening to bright, beautiful sunlight whilst a choir of angels sang to and rained rose petals down upon me.
For years (going on nearly 40, so it all started when I was 5, which is horrendously tragic) I have put others’ needs before mine. Including complete strangers. Because that’s what we, as females, are “supposed” to do. If we take care of ourselves, we’re “selfish.” Which is the worst thing a girl or woman can be. I took that lesson to heart. Don’t be selfish, and don’t be confident. Don’t be more accomplished than someone else. Hide that light under a bushel, lest you make another person feel bad.
Oh, and don’t be angry. No one likes a bitch. Don’t cry, because everyone hates needy, manipulative girls.
I remember lying to my parents, telling them I wasn’t thinking about suicide because I didn’t want them to worry. But more, I didn’t want them to think I was being selfish. I don’t tell people that I STILL think about it sometimes, because what kind of horrible mother leaves her kids behind in that way? (I’m not going to, in large part because I love my family and want to be there for and with them. But I have my moments.)

Recently I decided to take a trip. For the first time in over 20 years, I’m going on a vacation by myself. My first REAL vacation in all that time. I’m going in October to one of my favorite places in the world, a place I haven’t visited since 1991.
Then I got a phone call: My beautiful niece, who is engaged, has moved her wedding from October of ’15 to November of this year. And it’ll be on a cruise ship.
I can’t afford 2 trips this year, especially if one is a cruise.

So I’m not going to the wedding. I felt guilty at first. But 2 things happened: I was told that it’s going to be a tiny wedding, and even the grooms brothers can’t make it, and it’s not a big deal if I don’t go. They will have a big party at some point and invite everyone who couldn’t make it.
Secondly, I realized that, for the second time this year (and the umpteenth time in the past decade), I was being asked to re-arrange my plans at the last minute because someone else changed his/her mind. I’d already had to cancel my attendance at a workshop I’d been planning, for nearly a year, on going to. I was not going to cancel my trip. Because, honestly, I really don’t know when/if I’d be able to go in the future.

I’m finally realizing that, after 13 intense years of shutting myself away, it’s time to emerge again. Time to have a life of my own. To pursue my own goals again. Quite frankly, along with the benefits to myself, it’ll make me a better mom and wife, as well.
So, everybody wins.

And I think THAT is the main point of my long-winded reply: When EVERYONE is free to take care of their own needs, EVERYBODY wins.

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Azusmom June 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

And I apologize for the typos and wonky syntax (pet peeves of min, I admit).

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:44 pm

I heart you:)

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Charlotte June 30, 2014 at 10:43 pm

I think is is brilliant. I love this whole comment so so much. I’ve been mulling over it all day, since you posted it and I think what you said about what girls are taught that we’re “supposed to be” is so, so true. And it’s so ingrained that we don’t even think to examine it, we just do it. Thank you for sharing your story! (And please please don’t commit suicide! I would miss you so much. If you ever need to chat, you know where to find me!) So proud of you for sticking with your trip – so excited for you and I’m glad it all worked out! (Also glad your neice is being reasonable. Too often you hear about bridezillas that won’t compromise so I’m glad she’s cool. Your family is awesome:))

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Azusmom July 1, 2014 at 9:21 pm

<3 YOU!
And I won't end it.
And I WILL chat, just as I hope you will chat with me, if and when you need or want to!

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Amy July 1, 2014 at 10:45 am

I find that what trips me up is that people don’t always phrase things as a question but more of a command. Such as “you must try the cheesecake, here, it’s amazing.” Suddenly I feel compelled to give a lengthy explanation about why I shouldn’t or don’t want to and then suddenly it’s up for debate. When if I just say no thank you and follow it with silence or a subject changer then I’ve taken back the control of the situation, instead of eating something I didn’t want.

I once had a guy “tell” me that he was taking me to his church next Sunday (met him at a church social gathering). I was so proud of myself for just saying no thank you. I had to say it twice but it left him without an avenue to rebuttle. I’m sure he had cornered girls with these method before and was ready to dismiss any excuses. I hate feeling that someone has preyed on my polite non-confrontational nature.

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Sabrina July 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm

It’s taken me all of my 36 years, but I’ve come to realize that nobody is going to take care of me but me. So certain things have to be non-negotiable. I too am an introvert and need lots of time alone. I need regular exercise for mood regulation, to be my happiest, mentally-healthiest self. And I need more sleep than many. All of that means that I will not work full time, ever (barring any financial circumstances that would make that necessary). I simply can’t take care of my three kids, my house, maintain my friendships and relationships with my family, and get regular exercise and work full-time. In a culture that expects women to do it all, and being the child in my family that everyone expected to be “successful” (in other words, make lots of money), I am having to opt out. I spent done time feeling “less than” because I can’t seem to do it all when so many other mothers seem to be able to keep all those plates on the air, but I’m done with it. This is how I need to do it, at least for now. I can’t spend time feeling bad that I’m not fulfilling the expectations of others. I’ve got to make my priorities (mainly my family and my mental health) come first.

On another note, alcoholism and addiction also run rampant in my family. I didn’t know there was a genetic test for alcoholism… Thus far I seem to be able to practice moderation, but three of my siblings have chosen to abstain, and I am completely behind them. You’ve got to do what’s right for you.

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