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If I Cancel Plans, It's Not You—It's Me

Photograph by Twenty20

Don't we all have the best of intentions when we make plans with someone? When I'm committing my time to someone else, I fully believe I'll be there with bells on and be everything to everyone. But, let's be real here, there are also times when nothing feels right except for a quiet night at home. When the only thing that will be wearing bells is my glass of wine and chocolate chips eaten from the bag while I sit on my comfy couch in my softest PJs.

There are days when I've had to talk to enough people, keep a smile plastered on my face for the sake of my kids and my patience has just barely made it.

So, I can't show up. Not for friends, not for family, not for anyone but me. And previously made plans get cancelled.

I might tell you something happened and I can't make it without going into detail, and it's not to worry anyone or be selfish—although I know it can come across that way. It's because I've been stretched to my limit and it won't do anyone an ounce of good if I scramble to try and make it to your party, book club or yoga class.

We all know when we need to reel it in and recenter ourselves. We feel the irritation spreading from our head, down our chest, to our stomach, until it starts to turn and we want to take to our bed and just be.

We've all been there when something small sets us off, but we continue to push through. That's what society has portrayed as a strong person, right? Someone who can do it all.

Canceling plans is often the result of not being able to be emotionally there.

A woman who can bring home the bacon, cook it up for her family, then give her man pleasure and still make it to the PTA meeting. A person who is so strong and emotionally available, they push their own needs aside and ask for nothing in return again and again.

Well, I can tell you right here and right now, I can't be that person. I will never be that person.

I have an expiration date. If you do, too, and you feel yourself turning into a pumpkin but are still able to take a step back and say "No" or "I'm just going to stay in tonight and skip the essential oil party because I just can't," then that is your superpower.

I know it can be hard for others to understand. You probably even say things like, "It's not you—it's me," and have never meant it more. Because it really is about you.

Canceling plans is often the result of not being able to be emotionally there. It's because you have an exhaustion that runs deep in your bones and being "on" for even a minute longer isn't an option.

And that's OK. There's absolutely nothing wrong with putting your needs first. There's no shame in changing your mind. True friends know you love them anyway and they realize when you say, "Something came up and I can't make it," that sometimes something actually does happen to prevent you from being able to make it, like an emergency or sickness.

But they also know there are times when the thing that came up was you, and that letting you tend to yourself and get back on stable ground, guilt-free, is one of the best things they can allow you do.

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