It is not my obligation to be nice to you.

I don’t owe you anything.

Not because I’m a woman. Not because I’m in your vicinity. Not because it’s convenient to you, even if you’re a jerk to me. Not because pretty posters on Facebook tell me I ought.

Like this one, created for the purpose of this post

Like this one, created for the purpose of this post

A year or so ago, I told someone that something was hurting me. Then I told them again, and again.

I didn’t want to rock the boat so hard I fell out, but I figured they’d see just how much I was being hurt if I could only find the right words.

Alas, my words went mostly unheard and my demeanor became the focus of discussion: She’s so upbeat, her words must be overstated!

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize there were no perfect words for the situation. My words mostly didn’t even matter.

In retrospect, I had witnessed such responses before

In retrospect, I had witnessed such responses before

Since early in my professional career, I have understood the importance of setting clear expectations and boundaries in all facets of life:

If you do [x], [y] will almost inevitably be the consequence.

I cannot make you hear. That’s neither my responsibility, nor within my power. I can and will present facts and potentialities. What you do with them is up to you.

I got this before, but I really get it now.

Now, thanks to newfound understanding, I throw up boundaries much, much quicker than I would have a year or two ago. If I get the vaguest sense you are hearing not what I am saying but instead what you want to hear, those boundaries go up. Their bricks are built from words like these:



Not happening.

This is not a negotiation.

Apparently these words make me not “nice.”

Apparently my greatest aspiration should be niceness, lest I be deemed a bitch.

Here’s the thing:

I am not responsible for your unreasonable expectations.

If saying so makes me a bitch, I embrace the title.

I like being nice. I like doing what I can to make someone’s day brighter–when it is healthy for me, not when someone else demands it.

But I will not sacrifice my well being, integrity or safety to earn your “nice” seal of approval.

Not now. Not ever. Not anymore.

You want me to hear you? Try to hear me.

Otherwise, keep calling me “bitch,” because–by my choice, for my well being–that is all you will ever know of me.

  1. February 19, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Note, I got multiple server errors when attempting to post this earlier this evening, so I removed the prior post and reposted. I don’t think the earlier post was distributed; it didn’t feed to the usual places I check.

  2. February 19, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    If saying “no,” if “sticking to your beliefs,” makes you a bitch, well let’s be litter mates! Because being nice and taking shit don’t have to go hand in hand.

    • February 19, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      Amen! When people say “bitch” in this context and expect me to feel bad, it is hard to keep a straight face. 🙂

  3. February 19, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I only recently learned to put up boundaries. There were times I felt like a circus performer trying to please others. It was exhausting! Now, I can detect toxic relationships from miles away.
    We’re not obligated to reinstate relationship with those who cause deep pain. So yeah, I get it. I’m with you. I need “a seal approval” about as much as I need a compliment.

    • February 19, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      Now, I can detect toxic relationships from miles away.
      This is an amazing side effect of life with boundaries! Surrounded by people whose words and actions don’t require immediate, frequent boundary setting, it’s easy to see the difference between those who are respectful enough to not need that kind of checking and those who do. One is a blessing, the other an energy sink.

      Ditto, too, to the seal of approval/compliment bit! So perfectly put.

      • February 19, 2014 at 8:13 pm

        The last thing you need right now is someone to zap you of good energy. You should be in conservation mode–try to get plenty of zzz’s before baby arrives. Wishing all of you a peaceful night of sleep!

  4. February 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Good for you Deborah.B

    • February 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      I’m tickled by the timing of this. Just as I was replying to you on one thread, you were replying to me here. 🙂

      • February 19, 2014 at 8:04 pm

        I will go for coffee and let you catch up.Keep smiling.B

  5. February 19, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    I think I need to read this daily. Awesome.

  6. Andrew
    February 19, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Often, being “mean” is really a kindness. If people are willing to learn the lesson and change their behavior, that is.

    • February 20, 2014 at 5:25 am

      I agree. When someone says something not to be cruel but to effect a change, there is so much good that can come from it. For me, that is a powerful opportunity to see through others’ eyes. There’s only so much that can usually be seen through one pair . . .

  7. February 19, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I find the sexism inherent in the word so off-putting. That we can so deride a woman for protecting herself; so revile her for expressing strength; that we call her a filthy name without recognizing that such filth came out of our mouths.

    You weren’t created to only be nice. But also strong, smart, witty, talented, etc.

    • February 20, 2014 at 5:32 am

      So beautifully put. Reading Gavin de Becker the last year or so has been part of helping me see this more clearly for what it is: Your insistence on putting your needs above my own is a travesty for which you must be made to feel guilt. The way he tears that thinking down is eloquent and persuasive. Once read, behaviors that previously felt a little off are so much easier it identify and circumvent.

      • February 20, 2014 at 7:47 pm

        Maybe I should read that this spring.

  8. Katrina
    February 19, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Okay I need to catch up on some reading! FYI I got the email with the new post and I thought it was a personal email calling me a bitch! I think I am too tired!

    • February 20, 2014 at 5:35 am

      Hee. In the unlikely event I had concerns, they’d be expressed in dialogue with questions and without resort to name-calling! Did you get some good rest?

  9. February 20, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Hear, hear. And as well as boundaries I need to make more use of that wonderful word – no. And if that makes me a bitch – so beit.

  10. February 20, 2014 at 4:07 am

    Love it. Like spilled water on the floor, I prefer drinking out of a glass. (Does this make sense?)

    • February 20, 2014 at 5:38 am

      It does! It took me a moment or two to clear grogginess from my brain and get it, but now I get and love it.

  11. Kay
    February 20, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Love it, and SO very true!

  12. February 20, 2014 at 4:40 am

    Love this! Exactly how I feel and goes very well with my anthem. ❤

  13. February 20, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Go girl! (And I use that term for allitaretive purposes only). Being nice means getting walked all over nowadays. I have the boot marks to prove it.

    • February 20, 2014 at 5:45 am

      My best friend made a humorous related comment yesterday. I’ll see if she’ll let me quote it here. Honestly, I want to make a poster of her take. 😉

      The good thing is there are many people between whom friendliness can flow easy because there is no expectation either should/must give anything up for the other’s convenience. This kind of relationship is well worth it’s weight in gold!

  14. nicciattfield
    February 20, 2014 at 7:58 am

    I learned that one too. Also realized that the people who demand you see their side all of the time are the ones most reluctant to see yours.

  15. katy
    February 20, 2014 at 9:40 am

    NO is so powerful. And it has nothing to do with the word or connotation of bitch. You are powerful because you know your limits and your boundaries. What other people think and do is none of my business. I’m only responsible for me. GO D,GO! I’m so proud to be your friend.

    • February 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      YES! I just keep thinking back to the first time I read about saying “no” being another way of saying “yes”–to peace of mind, to safety, to comfort. More and more I see how true that is. I wish I could make it clearer to more people, but for now . . . it is sweet to think of the example being set for my child(ren!). ♥

      I love you, and am proud to be your friend. Your words, your heart . . . they brighten everything.

  16. February 20, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I am reading it right when I need it most in my life. This seems to happen a lot with your blog. I like your views and your strength and I really appreciate you putting all of this out there. You are truly inspiring.

    From this moment on, I refuse to care if he calls me a bitch.

    • February 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Thank you. As far as refusing to care, practice really does make better, until that magical moment where someone’s efforts to manipulate you into caring about their opinions are . . . irrelevant. Best wishes in this tough but rewarding journey. ♥

  17. February 20, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    As far as I’m concerned the only obligation you have is to be yourself and do/say whatever you want to. Oh and to keep writing great stuff because I really like your posts.

  18. February 20, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you for this post. Love you, Deb! xoxo

    • February 21, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Love you! I get a little rush every time I see your name or icon here. ♥

      • February 25, 2014 at 6:09 am

        Aww. Thanks. I read them all. I just don’t always have time or the right words to comment. And if I don’t click “like” it’s because I somehow forget, because shiny things. 😉

  19. Donnell Jeansonne
    February 21, 2014 at 1:04 am

    The first sentence of this post is my favorite thing of the day.

  20. February 21, 2014 at 8:35 am

    My starting point is usually that I’ll be nice until I have a reason not to be. Which sometimes happens.

    One of the hardest parts about learning to speak my truth was dealing with the people around me during that transition. “Doormat” Lisha was easy to get along with. She had everyone’s seal of approval. But “Honest” Lisha sometimes makes people uncomfortable. She challenges them. But she’s here to stay.

    • February 21, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      My starting point is usually that I’ll be nice until I have a reason not to be.

      This is awesome. This is what I try to do. Sometimes recently I’ll look back and wonder if I should have waited a little longer to shift modes, but then I look things over and realize . . . the people who know and care about me best know where I’m coming from. They’re not holding it against me. It’s those who do, who fault me for setting boundaries faster than they’d like, that it’s getting easier to walk away from.

      FWIW, I am a fan of the full Lisha.

  21. jennay
    February 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    My first thought when I saw the title, was “whaaattttt? Whoah, Nelly.” Then, I read it (of COURSE, I read it….shuh?”)and by the time I finished, all I could think of was “that’s Mrs. Bitch to you” and then I giggled to myself.

    My favorite line…”I will not sacrifice my well being, integrity or safety to earn your “nice” seal of approval.” Amen, sister. Amen.

    • February 24, 2014 at 10:22 am

      all I could think of was “that’s Mrs. Bitch to you” and then I giggled to myself.
      Same impact here! ♥

  22. maurnas
    February 23, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I get this constantly at work! Because I work with all men I am supposed to be the sweet understanding one. No thank you. I would rather be the one that gets shit done (which I am). ‘And no, I cant get you a coffee while I am in the break room. I’m not the maid. Get it your own damn self.’ I am working on something regarding this for my blog.

    • February 24, 2014 at 10:40 am

      I would rather be the one that gets shit done (which I am).

      Right around the time I graduated law school, I noticed two key reactions when I said I wouldn’t be practicing law: Why did you go to law school, then? and Well, an education is always valuable! I tried explaining the progression of things to the latter group for a few months, before realizing there were no words I could find that would make such questioners see merit in such a choice. I stopped trying, but starting seeing the “two groups” distinction elsewhere. One of these in how work is done, in all facets of life. There seem to be folks who view their job as getting as many balls into other peoples’ courts as possible, responding reactively to individual issues instead of looking at how to solve an overarching problem. Then there are others who address the individual questions as part of solving overarching problems. That’s what I try to do. I want to be someone who gets things done, not just someone who bounces balls back! Part of that is saying “no,” and sometimes being able to do so quickly and clearly.

      I look forward to your post on this topic.

  23. February 26, 2014 at 11:23 am

    My favorite title was “Royal Bitch”. I could never get them to bow or pay tribute though. How rude.

    This is my first visit to your blog and I must say I will be returning.

    • February 26, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Thank you. 🙂

      could never get them to bow or pay tribute though. How rude.
      Heh. This sent me down the road to envisioning cards for such a title. What a treat it would be to hand those out!

  24. January 7, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Reblogged this on blessedncrazy and commented:
    LOVE this!

  1. September 10, 2014 at 8:16 pm
  2. December 30, 2014 at 12:12 pm
  3. March 19, 2016 at 4:31 am
  4. April 15, 2017 at 9:03 am

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