But What If I Say No And They Stop Loving Me?
I recently made a decision that was a long time coming. That decision: Nope, I'm done.
Now, let's take it back to the beginning...
In February 2010, my father asked me to be a committee person with him. This is a position in local government. You're basically the "little guy" on the totem pole. The primary responsibility in this modern age of the committee person is to stand outside the polling place twice a year every year and hand out a paper ballot telling voters who their party wants them to support.
My father had done this years before and after a hiatus was going to do it again. In each division of the wards that make up my city (Philly, baby), there are meant to be two committee people per party. So Dad needed a partner for the job. I was in college and felt kind of electrified at the idea of being in public office. This was, of course, two years after Obama's first election and politics felt fresh and inspiring in a way they hadn't, at least for me.
Two years after I was elected in the spring of 2010 as committee person, I served as Judge of Elections in a trial by fire situation. It was the general election in 2012 and the woman who'd been Judge in my polling place for 40 years died of cancer not long before Election Day.
Being Judge of Elections requires opening the polling machines, having voters sign the books, managing the Elections Board, and closing the machines at the end of the day. It may not sound like much, but it can feel incredibly stressful, especially when your team changes each time and you're dealing with new personalities.
The last few Election Days, I've wanted to be DONE. It's so stressful for me and I didn't want to do it anymore.
But I couldn't see how to get out of it.
What kept me going? Fear and love.
Let me explain... In my ward, the polling places and the Board of Elections are the responsibility of the Ward Leader. And I call my Ward Leader "grandmom." We're not blood but her family adopted me and my dad after my parents' divorce. We celebrate every holiday with them. Gram's grandkids are my brothers and sisters in spirit.
I love this woman. She's fierce, formidable and full of love.
And so, I would hate to disappoint her. Her other granddaughter, my sister by spiritual adoption, has said I'm the favorite child/grandchild because I'm interested in (and, at times, downright passionate about) politics.
Giving up working Election Day then might mean that they don't want me around anymore.
Least that's the fear I've been operating under.
And its funny... Because when I wrote the question "What kept me going?" above, I wanted to answer with just the word, "Love." But then I realized... Too often, especially for those of us who have a history of codependency, it is easy to confuse love and fear.
These are the two great opposites, right? The main motivations behind all our behavior. And one is definitely more holy and ideal than the other.
Don't do in the name of love what you actually do out of fear.
That's exactly what I was doing: stressing myself out running a damn polling place because I was afraid (specific) people wouldn't love me if I stopped.
I almost pity myself for being so goddamn deluded, and pitying oneself is a horrible, gross, no-good feeling.
So what have I done?
Delivered the message that I'm done. Can't work Election Day this month (and don't plan to ever again).
Now... I have a perfectly valid 'outside' excuse. I have a work commitment on the day of Pennsylvania's primary election this month.
But I actually hate that I used that excuse to get out of it. It's something my Gram understands, but I wish I'd had the courage to say no just because I WANT to be done. Because I don't enjoy Election Day. Because I am exhausted by the work of it and just don't wanna do it anymore.
Maybe I'll change my mind, but I feel so done with politics.
The younger versions of me that are still within are in their hater section right now, going, "OH my gAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWd, what do you mean? You can't be so apathetic. You have to caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaare! You have to run that polling place so that people can access their right to vote." Blah blah blah. They're noisy as fuck.
But I can kind of hear a wise older Rosella inside saying, "Hush! She's making the decision that's right for her right now and she may change her mind."
I don't need to make myself feel bad for outgrowing anything. And it's OK, too, if I step back into it later.
I am Rosella. I am amazing. I am loved. I am capable of saying no. I am DESERVING of saying no to stuff that doesn't serve me.
You too are amazing. You too are loved. You too are capable of saying no. And you too are DESERVING of saying no to stuff that doesn't serve you.
If anyone WERE to "stop" loving me or you because we say no to stuff that doesn't fill us with joy or serve us in some other way? They never truly loved us in the first place, and we can grieve for that, but it's no reason to try and... say... glue hair back on your head that fell off. Cuz that's exactly what it's like when we avoid saying "no more" or even just "no" to something out of fear.
What do you need to finally say no to JUST fuckin' because?