Learning To Say “NO”

It’s liberating, saying No. In the right circumstances, at the right time. I’ve been learning that it is so necessary for a fulfilled life. My most recent big life change was at the end of July 2014. I resigned my job and took a step of faith (more like a giant leap) to become a stay-at-home mom. Something I never thought I would be able to be.

Truth be told? I’m a little afraid to say this…but, after a few years of working in the medical field, I knew I couldn’t be truly happy doing it. I was one of the many young twenty-somethings that went to a trade school and became a Medical Assistant. My aunt had told me about it when I moved back from Tennessee at 19 years old. I was interested because at least if I did that, I would make decent money. I was tired of barely making anything at daycares and restaurants. I really didn’t see any other way for me to make a living on my own, other than to go to school. At least MA school was less than a year (at the time), and I would be better off, I thought.

I don’t regret it. I feel that it was a big part of my life for good reason. I’ve met countless people whom I love and admire, through this field. There are many truly caring professionals in the medical field. It was an honor to work alongside some of them.

Still…I had been working as a Medical Assistant for probably three years when I just knew, deep within me, that it just wasn’t for me.

I was good at it. I excelled. I worked hard. Regardless of my feelings toward it, as I gained increasing knowledge about alternative health, I remained a Medical Assistant. It was something I could always fall back on. And I did, time after time.

I don’t regret that. I was doing what I needed to do. But it was so unfulfilling.

There were times I thought I felt fulfilled. I would help a patient through a long referral process, see it through, and feel good that I was able to help that person. Or I would comfort a patient with kind words. Or get an authorization for a stat CT scan and get a same-day appointment for a patient when they needed it. Those things were always fulfilling.

But overall? Overall, it was empty. Because I began to disagree with not just one aspect…but nearly all aspects of modern medicine. I began to realize that it offers no real solutions. Only bandaids. The true keys to health are rarely discussed as the important things they are. Patients would come in with long, long lists of medications. They would be hospitalized over and over again due to medication reactions or poorly managed chronic disease.

Oh. My heart was always saddened for them! How much better they would be, if someone could be right there with them, in their home, showing them what they needed to do. Going to the grocery store with them. Teaching them basic healthy cooking skills. Walking with them while they try to exercise. Encouraging them.

If only all of us could have such a cheerleader or coach for support!

Many times, I knew that I was seeing folks in an advanced disease state, and that was why it was so bad. I learned that it is much harder to reverse illness, than to prevent it in the first place.

This didn’t stop my heart from feeling heavy and unfulfilled at the end of my days. And that isn’t all. The constant revolving door of seeing patients…there were just too many patients scheduled in one day. I know the doctor wanted to fit everyone in…but how much good medical care is someone getting when the doctor can only spend five to seven minutes with them? This wasn’t every office I worked at, but it was quite common. I was often left with a patient who still had questions and looked bewildered, after seeing the doctor. It was sad. I always wanted to explain things thoroughly for them…but I was so busy myself with injections, EKGs, referrals, and paperwork up to my ears. I was usually so stressed myself, that I couldn’t help them like I wanted to. I always did my best.

But it wasn’t good enough!

The problem is the SYSTEM.

So…I finally learned to say No.

It was so scary. Being a Medical Assistant was what I was used to. And, I cared. But I had been so heartbroken over leaving my baby to go to work, and I had never gotten over it. I didn’t want to get over it. I felt the strong pull in the direction of motherhood. I felt that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. And in spite of praying that the stress I was under at work would level off and simmer down…it got worse! And its effects on my health were becoming…unacceptable.

So I made a decision. Knowing that, on paper, Adam and I couldn’t afford it. That we would be barely…barely squeaking by.

Those first few days in August? They were strange. I thought about work, even though I was free and I was staying home with my baby, like I had wanted. I thought about how my coworkers were doing. If they were stressing. I heard the news that my replacement was fired. I felt that it was my responsibility to do something about it! But I was home, and I had let go.

But I realized…letting go is a process. We don’t just say No. We have to learn to say No. I was so freaked out at first. It has been a slow process of letting go. I found so much worth in being a Medical Assistant! I was good at it, and I was proud of my hard work. I thought that being a stay-at-home mom was…just not as important.

Now I’ve realized that it is not only just as important…for me…it is more important. Because I feel like I am truly myself. I am blossoming with creativity. I am loving being a mom! I get to teach Olive things. I get to be with her during my BEST hours of the day, not my end-of-the-day leftovers.

It’s liberating.

Trust me, I still freak out about finances. I will probably always struggle with that. But I cannot deny that I am far more fulfilled as a simple stay-at-home-mom than I ever was when I was working.

Now, to sum up, I didn’t write this to bash women who work! This is my own story. Believe me, I have been there, and it is tough! And I know that some women want to work, and others work because they have to, and others, like me, work but want to stay home but think they can’t do it.

For some of you, it’s time to say No. No more unnecessary stress. No more long hours away from my family. No, because my health will be better. No, because my family will be happier. No, even though the bank account will look terrible. No, even though people around me won’t understand.

It’s time to learn to say No.

winding-path

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