Who is the dummy? If Jane asks Bob for ten dollars every day, and Bob gives it to her happily, then there is no problem. If he resents her asking but says nothing, then she isn’t in the wrong, he is. He’s the dummy.
Whatever someone wants from you – time, energy, money, whatever, if it is a burden for you, you must say no.
Consider if someone shows up to your house unexpected. They ask if they can come in. You are tired after a long day and you are about to go to bed. You don’t want to stay up entertaining them. You have to work early tomorrow morning. Do you let them in?
What if they want to stay in your house overnight? Or for a week? Or for a month? Or a year? Or forever?
Where do you draw the line?
At what point do your own needs come into play? If you do not stand up for yourself, who will?
I know several people who if they don’t respond to a text message immediately, their friend or relative will start to freak out. They will send another text. They will call. They will contact another person to check up on them. This is their normal behavior.
But the friend or relative isn’t the dummy. They haven’t been told “no” in a way that they understand. Perhaps they haven’t been told “no” at all.
It is up to each of us to establish boundaries of what is OK and what isn’t.
Now, here’s the funny bit – the other person can establish their own boundaries too. There is a lady at work who wears a really strong scented lotion. It triggers my asthma. The smell is so strong that if she has walked through that area, the smell lingers like a cloud.
Years ago I just suffered quietly, harboring my resentment that this horrible smell was affecting me. She didn’t know that it bothered me. So in that case, I was the dummy for not saying anything.
Then I bolstered up my courage and said something to her. She brushed off my concern. Sadly, this is common. People don’t understand asthma. They don’t get that I have to stop breathing for a little bit when I encounter a trigger smell, in order to not overexpose myself to it. If I get too much of it and the asthma attack starts it feels like someone has grabbed my left lung in a vise every time I breathe in. I cannot get in a full breath. It is terrifying.
And it is preventable. If I had my way, a whole lot of perfumes would just stop being produced, because it isn’t just me that is affected. But that is another post for another day.
Because this lady doesn’t work in my area, I’ve not done anything more about it. She doesn’t spend a lot of time around me. If she did, I’d have to talk to a manager about it. I talked to her, and she ignored me. This was months ago.
Then, yesterday, she saw me in the break room and said that she’d just be in there quickly, because she “had heard” that I was allergic to her lotion. She “didn’t want me to throw up.” Throwing up isn’t part of an asthma attack. And she “had heard” it from me – it wasn’t gossip. She was a bit confused all around, but she had decided to just not be around me. I mentioned that she could choose to not wear it, and she said she didn’t like the unscented lotion.
It was a weird compromise, but it was a compromise. If I’d not said anything to her, then I’d be in the wrong – not her. In the best of worlds, she would have understood the depth of harm her overly-scented lotion does to me. I don’t think that is possible considering her statements from yesterday. It is obvious that she misunderstood what I’d said to her before.
It is weird that she somehow “got it” months later, but that isn’t the point. The point is that I had to say something, and she had a choice.