on saying “not right now”

when i care about someone, i feel a pressure to answer their inquiries asap. like i want the gold star for first responder as a token of my care. but i’ve come to learn and understand that this tension is not conducive for growth. in fact, sometimes an “i’m not sure right now” or “i’m not available” is a proper response…

more specifically: the most proper response, because i care.

because my social body is tired and requires rest before i can proceed in a caring manner. and because sometimes, they will have to shoulder the weight themselves or find another to help them. sometimes that is what is necessary for their growth.

i am not saying that i ignore all asks for help. but if my help will result in them also carrying the weight of my current reaction, then it is important that i do not offer my energy. in my exhaustion, i might overreact to their request and project my own needs upon them, leaving us both a little more helpless than before.

img from pixabay @kloxklox_com

i learned this through silence.

taking vows of silence allows me the time and space to explore my own expression without the pressure of this made-up immediacy. though i may still be accessed via cell phone and visits, i can respond energetically, and have some time to digest and respond verbally to situations, rather than placing an expectation of immediate, intellectual communication. in other words, i am free to be slow and take care in responding and i do not expect others to actively communicate either.

no one is always available. we can rest.

plenty of those close to me are very upset by the frequency and immediacy with which i enter silence. because of this, i created a belief that i do not have the “right” or understanding to be able to take silence. so, i end up ghosting or not properly seeing myself out.

through continually taking these vows, i have come to see that their expectations are not upon me to be constantly available, but to respect our relationship and offer closure before my energetic departure. to let them know.

it is by offering this “not right now” or “i really care about you, but i can’t take this on” that i can offer my regard to the relationship and the other. and it can be used in smaller doses — it doesn’t have to be a vow of complete silence. it can be a vow to prioritize your well-being. if something is not aligning or is causing overwhelm, consider giving it a “not right now.”

i do not need to explain or excuse myself for existing as i see fit, though the way in which i do it can be catered to a specific individual within my personal ability. for example, some people may be cool with a text saying “not right now,” whereas others will appreciate hearing my voice — sometimes i don’t even have the capacity for either. and that’s okay, too. they will understand, or they won’t.

“not right now” is a perfectly fine answer, and we need to become more used to saying and hearing it.