I Still Struggle With Saying "No"

I envy people who can stand their ground in an argument, or tell people when they’re uncomfortable. Even when people ask me if they’re making me uncomfortable, I just freeze when I actually am, or I just let it happen and continue to be uncomfortable.

I guess I could say I’m like the Yes Man, except the reason why I say yes is from my anxiety, and the fear of letting people down.

For example, if a friend asks for a favor, I’m sometimes able to decline if I actually can’t. They don’t know my plans or what I’m going to do. However, if a friend asks for a share of my food that I’m eating, I feel obligated to give them some, even though I planned on eating all of it. My friends pick up on this and tell me that I can say no, but I still can’t help it. I don’t know why.  

It’s not just these little things with friends, it gets worse. When it comes to guys and sex, I’ve noticed I tend to do the same thing. More than once, I’ve been kissed without my consent, and whenever that’s happened I always just freeze. I don’t know why I let it happen, but I do know that when it does happen, I am afraid.

I constantly beat myself up over it. Why didn’t I punch the man who forcibly kissed me and tried to grope me? Why did I let him do it? Maybe it’s the stories all over the media of women being killed just for saying no to a man? Is my fight or flight response fucked? Is it shock? I wish I was able to say no at the right moment. It’s frustrating because later on, I wish and wish and wish that I was able to do that.

I want to be strong though. I want to be able to defend and stand up for myself, but I don’t understand why it comes easily to others while it doesn’t for me. I was told as a child that if someone hits you, you do not hit them back or else you’ll get in trouble. I’ve been taught to take criticism and insults with dignity, and to just take it without lashing out. I’ve been taught to be passive when being picked on because eventually, I’ll be left alone. But where is the dignity in that?

In my upbringing I’ve been taught to be giving, kind and gentle, but in all of these teachings I was never taught about self-respect- it was only about how I could serve others. I was never taught when to say no. So now I’ve been trying to catch up and rewire myself to where I’ll eventually be able to say no whenever I need to without hesitation.