No! Probably the greatest word in the world, in any language.
Many years ago, following a suicide attempt which ended my marriage and estranged me from my wife and daughter, I vowed never to do such a thing again. Like so many people who despair of life, my thinking was distorted, if not downright wrong. The only way I was going to survive was to do something about that. It is a terrible way to learn, from the catastrophic distress of people I loved, but it got through. A very long journey lay ahead with no road map and no idea what I sought. Life journeys are like that, the significant thing is to begin it. For someone with no sense of self worth, that was my first gift to myself, though I did not know that’s what it was, at the time.
I made many hard mistakes, fell on my arse many times, dusted myself off in equal number, many false turnings, much frustration and, for some years still, a battle with despair and hopelessness. It’s a journey made in faith, no matter how fragile, that there really were places to go and amazing things to discover.
Thankfully, one of the most vital tools in my life box came along courtesy of the feminist movement and one of the great changes. Women got pissed off with waiting for the cavalry, there never is a cavalry, and they realised that they had to do it for themselves, patriarchy was, typically, never going to give them a damned thing, and there was one vital skill that was significant in self empowerment – assertiveness. Not the histrionics you see when an enraged customer has stoked themselves enough to complain about shoddy goods, but a quieter, leaner beast that terrified and enraged many men.
The most powerful word in any language is, “No”, a word expressed with the certainty of ‘this far and no further’. Make no mistake, this is far from exclusive to women, I offer myself as a prime example and my gratitude to those brave pioneering warriors is boundless. Women organised assertiveness training, something hitherto unknown. That was the revolution right there. If women were to escape abusive relationships they needed skills fast and initially, at least, learning those skills was terrifying. Allow me to explain.
When you have been battered from pillar to post, a habitual doormat, even the thought of standing up to a significant other is mind buggeringly terrifying. You’ve literally never done anything like it before, you are already terrorised, no one can do it for you and you feel terribly exposed and alone, you have no idea how to even say that crucial little two letter word that is your ONLY release from prison. I remember being terrified that my voice would fail, I would break down and cry or even die, certain in the knowledge that the person I was standing up to for the first time was going to be livid with fury and would go ape shit. How right I was. “what’s got into you, you’ve been perfectly ok with it up till now, but you’ve always done it, lets talk about this, what do you think you’re doing, who do you think you are, it must be that time of the month?” And you know, once done, you must face the storm and not surrender into a worse servitude or budge a single millimetre. Every single person reading this who has faced that storm will know intimately how vast that terror is that you are facing for the very first time. There is no braver or magnificent an act on earth.
“No.” This far and no further. You must stand. Women formed their support groups, a solid purposeful rear guard, they had your back, especially if you broke and turned, they built you up again, they cheered the fuck out of you when you graduated, newly born warrior, hero, human in charge of your own destiny. You beautiful, beautiful being.
It gets easier fast. The first time is the real biggie, the second time, you’ve already got a backlog of one. They’ll try to beat you, but you’ve set precedent and already broken the pattern. The third or fourth time they are habituated to the new you, or they’ve buggered off to find another slave, and good riddance.
We are here again. Our lives valued and found worth a miserly minimum wage, not even enough to live on. Our hands, skills, our minds and feelings, our entire being worth less than 10 fucking pounds an hour. The enormity of the insult, the habituated surrender to such a low status. What did school do to help? Nothing. That was the set up, the conditioning, the demeaning of your life. Your acceptance of a pittance that your captors wouldn’t even get out of bed for.
The Tory government has reached a crescendo of abuse, killing people at will, robbing us blind to our faces. No magic money tree Mrs May? Then what the hell are you plucking and plundering for self serving purposes? Can’t afford a pay rise for nurses, but can afford weapons contracts to your mates, who’ve plied you with back handers, worth billions to kill indiscriminately. jacob Rees-Mogg is making millions from Brexit, it’s a Christmas bonanza for the hedge fund crooks. Watch this video.
It’s time. Time to retrain, reskill, it’s time to be assertive. No histrionics, never explain yourself unless that truly is your choice. The word is. “no”. that word contains a better and bright future and the screams of the bankers who we so generously bailed out with ne’er a word of thanks, just more abuse.
Here it is again, “No”. It is really a very, very good word. Try it, sing it, dance it, get acquainted. You owe neither explanation or justification to no one, just “no”. You are your favourite hero waiting to happen, and I promise you, you will feel fantastic. Because you are. Ready to change the world yet?
KOG. 01 August 2020.