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Permission to Not Show Up

I grew up in a “tough it out” household.

My brother literally told me to “tough it out” whenever I got hurt when we were playing.

My parents didn’t allow us to miss school unless we were running an insanely high fever or actively throwing up.

I learned that if you say you’re going to do something, you do it.

No. Matter. What.

Unless something terrible is going on.

And, even then, double-check your priorities to make sure you really have to cancel.

I carry this message in my bones: You must show up unless you can prove that something so terrible happened that your not showing up is unavoidable.

Examples from my life include the time I was supposed to drive friends and their kids to the airport but was in the emergency room having a miscarriage. Even as it was happening, I felt like I was letting them down and that it was my responsibility to find someone else to take them since it was so last-minute.

There was the time I had to bail on my voice teacher because my dad died suddenly. I was supposed to sing for a college class he was teaching. My dad died in the middle of the night. It took me some time to write the email letting my teacher know I wouldn't be able to make it. It was full of apologies, and I was full of guilt for letting him down. I was emailing him eight hours before the class. In my grief-stricken stupor, I considered whether I could sing for his class and then fly home to be with my family and mourn. If memory serves, my husband was the cooler head that prevailed on that one.

Don’t worry, we still kept the appointment to sign our tax forms before hopping on the plane home.


If I have given someone my word, I feel like I need a permission slip to not show up. While I do believe that it is important to keep my word, I also think I need to treat myself with some grace when I’m not able to do all the things for all the people. My barometer for a “good enough” reason to not do something is broken.

If I can, I must.

If I don’t have plans and you need help, I must say “yes”. Even if I haven’t seen my husband all week because we’ve been so busy, and I just need a day to kick my feet up and rest.


If you need help ….

If you’re counting on me ….

If I think I’m your only option ….

I will abandon myself with very little hesitation.

At least that’s how it’s been most of my life.

Recently, that moment of hesitation is getting longer.

I am intentionally stopping and asking, “Is this mine to do?”

I’d like to eventually add more questions.

“Do I have the capacity to do this?”

“Do I want to do this?”

For so long, I assumed if someone asked for help, I was their only option. If I said no, they were screwed.

I have said “yes” and pushed myself beyond what should have been personal boundaries most of my life. I have shown up for people with a grumpy heart because I should have said “no”.

While it may seem counterintuitive that I am writing this post as an act of giving myself permission to not show up while showing up, here I am.

There are many pieces to the puzzle.

I am still grieving the loss of my cat.

I am committed to posting a blog post each week.

I want to show up for myself.

I fear that if I skip a week of posting, it will give future-me permission to not write.

What if I stop writing altogether?

While a part of me knows that’s an okay outcome, it’s not what I ultimately want.

I have very limited capacity right now.

My give-a-damn is busted.

My inner resistance to doing anything is very strong right now.

My heart is heavy and sad.

So, in an effort to give myself permission to not show up and write a blog post about something interesting, I’m here addressing a pattern of behavior that I’m working to change.

It is with grace toward myself that I write this.

I am still showing up, but I’m not pushing myself. I’m not shaming myself. And, I’m not writing this for anyone else.

It’s for me.

I’m showing up for me while giving myself permission to not show up for you by forcing myself to provide different content.

Is this growth?

Or, do I just not have a good enough reason to not show up today?

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