Taking care of yourself first. Sounds easy, right? If you’re part of the same reality that I am, you know that it’s not. Most definitely not. It requires strong boundaries – boundaries that people constantly push, knowingly or unknowingly. What irks me is that I have to keep “fixing my fence” to keep these people that I’ve already set my boundaries out with because they’re like cows pushing the fence for the nice green grass I’ve cultivated for myself on the other side for my own health and sanity! They just won’t take, “No!” for an answer. I’m willing to help to an extent with a lot of things, but there comes a point past which I can’t push myself any further, and I don’t think that others should continue to try to push me beyond that all the time, either. Church people can be some of the worst about this. Most don’t do it on purpose, or don’t realize what they’re doing to you, but some do. They’re also some of the worst about demanding a justification for your reply when you say you can’t do something. When I say I can’t, that should be it. I don’t owe an explanation for every breath I take to anyone, much less having all the issues I do, and I don’t think it’s any of their business unless I want to make it their business! Those who know me well enough know if it’s their business, and those are very few. If I haven’t ever had lunch with you or called on you to give me a blessing or visit me in the hospital or during a crisis or greeted you in church, it’s probably none of your business as to why I can’t do something, as an example. There are very few exceptions to that, but you get where I’m coming from. If I say I don’t want to talk about it or am not forthcoming with a justification, don’t push it unless you know you’re one of those people who can. I’ll usually volunteer it if I want you to know outside of that stipulation. And do not use my duty to God as a leveraging point. That’ll guarantee that I’ll never open up to you again, even with a courtesy call to tell you, “No.” You won’t gain any points with me by trying to guilt me into doing what I can’t do with the “duty to God” clause. I know what I am and am not capable of and when I’m getting spread too thin! Don’t push it!
At the same time, I realize your good intentions. I’ll throw some general things about myself out there so that you know what’s going on with me on a day-to-day basis, and then maybe you’ll be able to see why I might have to say, “No,” sometimes. First, I’m a 100% Service-Connected Disabled Veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I’m on a lot of medication and see my psychiatrist twice a week for medication management and therapy. I pay for that out of my own pocket. My Pop died the day before Easter this year of renal failure. It was his decision, and I miss him. He wasn’t a member of the Church, but Mom assures me that he believed in God. I commute back and forth between Billings and my mom’s house a few towns away to make sure that my mom isn’t alone at night. I also help watch my two small nephews for my brother and sister-in-law, at times for two or three days a week out at my mom’s house. I stay at my mom’s house at night most nights because I don’t want her to be alone at night. During the day, I try to get some climbing in (crucial to my mental health and doctor’s orders), and some walking in, in addition to setting up other medical appointments, paying bills, taking care of emergencies, maintaining friendships, meeting with my old Veteran’s therapy group (the VA discontinued it, and then our group leader passed away suddenly), and spending some time with my spouse. So, all that and a fixed income said, I don’t have endless resources to go running around filling up my gas tank all the time, and I don’t have a whole lot of extra time to do much more than I’m doing right now without sacrificing something else. I have no sense of routine right now, and have been in the hospital five times since the motor vehicle accident that left me with a broken and now somewhat limiting wrist due to pain almost a year ago. That legal battle is still raging and no settlement has yet been reached with the insurance company. That’s what I deal with every day. So, if I say, “No,” or, “Sorry, I’m not available,” please understand that I would if I could, but with all of that going on each and every day, I might just need that extra 20 minutes for a nap to keep myself out of the hospital!
Please realize that I do everything I reasonably can for the Church and in the service of Heavenly Father, but I am only a mortal. I’m not a god. I don’t have endless resources at my disposal, but I don’t go without. I just have to carefully manage my life as to keep myself healthy. I think that most people, religious or not, would agree that one must keep themselves healthy in order to be able to help anyone else. Burying yourself in service is great if you have that luxury, but I am disabled. So don’t be offended by this dissertation. It is simply an informative thesis on why I might have to enforce my boundaries and say, “No,” sometimes. Don’t take it personally. I just don’t have what it takes at that time to do what you ask of me due to my own limitations and current commitments and responsibilities and disabilities. Just remember that I’m mortal. And you could probably use a nap once in a while, too! (Smile and wink)