Saying no

I was a YES person. I said it loudly, both with shame and without, in exuberant and quiet ways, my entire life.

In all the wrong ways.

Yes to little boys who wanted to see beneath my clothing. Yes to the guilt and pain of adults whose lives weren't going the way they'd dreamed. Yes to fumbling teenage boys who wanted to explore and exploit my body, which blossomed with womanly curves while I was still a child. Yes to the burden of strangers and family. Yes to the anxiety and shame and fear of other people's mistakes. Yes to anyone who promised, pretended, to love me.

Yes in perilous and broken ways. With trembling and falsely confident steps.

Until I learned to say no. Until some crucial component of my core broke free and knocked around inside my body until it settled in my heart and mind. That struggling little revelation opened me up to my truth. And my truth is that my body is mine and should only be used in ways that make me happier, my decisions and beliefs are mine and should never be used to validate or invalidate someone else's choices, and my heart -- that valuable and broken center -- deserves nothing but honesty and protection from those who surround it.

And so I am a No person.

I say no in proud and confident ways, heart singing and hands open to those around me. I say no to shame and guilt and fear -- the kind others try to place on me and the kind I try to place on myself. I speak and act with intentions that are true and loving.

When I throw my head back and bask in my husband kneeling in front of me, his kisses praising each stretch mark etched into my soft belly that cupped and protected his daughter.

When I resist the deep training to rush in and fix, overlook, make better, the consequences of someone else's reckless and irresponsible decisions.

When I stare into my own eyes in the mirror without flinching and see nothing but my own admirable, amazing, and authentic self, a self that was almost crushed under the weight of those long years of yes.

When I open my mouth and say yes, yes, yes to all the feelings and actions that fill me with light and hope: blowing bubbles with my wolfgirl, watching my sweet boy canon ball into crystal blue water, opening myself to my husband's strong body at the end of an averagely hectic day, the sun on my skin as I float through the morning after...

To these and more, I will always say Yes.


**This post is part of Five for Ten, where we're giving each other five minutes a day for ten days. Won't you join us?**


  • Gucci Mama

    You know, I am so glad I read this today. It really, really speaks to me. I think learning "no" is one of the best and most empowering lessons we can learn and teach our daughters. This was absolutely fabulous. ;)

  • C (Kid Things)

    Yes comes in so many shapes and sizes. A truly honest take.

  • Dalia (Generation X Mom)

    Another great post! So many people are 'yes' people and have a hard time with the no thing. Lately I feel like the only word out of my mouth is 'no' (to my kids)!

  • Alita

    Sigh! Loved every word. Related to them and understood immediately for your word of NO. No is a good word, too. :)

  • amber_mtmc

    Kelly, reading these words "Yes to anyone who promised, pretended, to love me," made me pause. Maybe we should teach our children to say yes and no. Yes when it is something that will advance their dreams (college) and no when it may potentially hurt them. A valuable lesson, indeed.

  • liz

    Good for you! No, NO, NO, NNNOOOO!

  • Jack Steiner

    Saying no is often a good thing. Sounds like you have learned a lot.That is a good thing, learning and being able to share that. Not to mention the obvious benefits of being able to take advantage of what you have learned.

  • Shell

    What a beautiful post. It was a very hard lesson for me to learn- when to say yes and when to say no.

  • becca

    This was so touching. And you made me realize that NO is not always the "easy way out" the "lazy way". NO can also be the wise choice. The safe choice. Thank you for opening my eyes to this Kelly. I think I may have been a little short sighted in my words.

  • The Drama Mama

    I could have written this post myself, only I still struggle with some of those things you spoke of. I have to admit though that it is a totally different kind of rush having said no to something worthy of saying no to. I am going to keep working at it. It's getting easier.

  • BigLittleWolf

    Ah. Kelly. Magnificent.

    Yes to all these no's that allow you to own yourself fully in a more authentic yes. This is quite beautiful.

    I think you've found wisdom far earlier than most of us.

  • Anonymous

    I really appreciate the way you've captured the nuances of both yes and no. Too often I fall into the trap of black and white (e.g. I need to say yes more often; I need to learn how to say no), but you're absolutely right: there are ways we need to include both in our lives, at the right times and in the right ways.

    Thank you, Kelly.

  • Corinne Cunningham

    Just beautiful, Kelly.
    Both are necessary, and should be basked in with the courage that it takes to say yes, and to say no.

  • Kelly Miller

    Thank you, everyone, for showing such empathy and understanding for my struggle with no. I was thinking about it further and realized that, for me, telling someone NO invited conflict and possible hurt. I avoided that all cost (and still have a hard time sitting with conflict), but I've learned that I will survive whatever comes my way.

  • Allison @ Alli 'n Son

    It takes a strong woman to say No. And and even stronger one to know when to say yes, and who to say it too. Beautiful post.

  • ChefDruck

    This post really, really spoke to me. I too had a problem of saying yes to way too many boys, trying to fill the void of teenage angst. I've only just begun writing about it, nowhere nearly as eloquently as you just did. Thank you for writing this beautiful piece and having the courage to share it. Although the strength of the no section of the post hooked me, the beauty of your yes moments will remain with me.


  • ChefDruck

    and by the way, I FINALLY added you to my blog roll. Sorry to take so long to do so, but I'm finally taking the time to do some blog reorganizing this week!

  • www.privilegeofparenting.com

    Lovely and powerful. It's inspiring to read how you have healed and grown strong and soulful out of early wounds. That wrong attention can hurt body, mind and self-esteem, but that radiant spirit that you see in the mirror has obviously never been touched but by those who truly love you.

  • Heather

    Sorry about the hard years you experienced, but I'm happy to hear you finally realized who you were as a person, and could say no.

    I'm also so happy that you have the right reasons to say YES now! Great writing!

  • Anonymous

    Really, really enjoyed this. I think all women should read it for all of their own reasons. It's rich with self-love, but what's even more important is that you acknowledged what it took you to get there. We all need to learn that. "Confident ways, heart singing," how spectacular is that!

  • Launa

    Darn, girl. You rock. I love the honesty and the attitude. You've got to check out Rachel Simmons The Curse of the Good Girl -- but then again, you could have written it.

  • kate

    i just wanted to chime in and agree with all the words here. yours and the other commenters. i really was touched by this post. thank you for being brave enough to say no, and to share that with us. there is a lot to be learned there.

  • Unknown

    You, Kelly, are a phenomenal woman.
    Well said.
    Very well said.

  • ck

    This post captivated me. Learning how to be that kind of "No Girl" took everything I had, too. I am so glad to have found you during 5/10. I really look forward to reading more of your posts.

  • One Photo

    This is indeed a very captivating post, full of very strong emotions and images. The words you use to describe why it is that saying no is so important to you, are words we all need to remember and teach our children before they reach that vulnerable age when wanting to conform can make us do things we really do not want to do.

  • Jami

    amen, amen, AMEN!

  • Jen

    Kelly, you have ROCKED IT this Five for Ten. I have loved each and every one of your posts. And what I love best about this one is the use of the phrase "averagely hectic." I hear ya, sister. And you've put a smile on my face.

  • SuziCate

    this is absolutely beautiful!

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