Relationships, Business-ships, and Boundaries

Ah, to be in demand. To be wanted. 

Being wanted is wonderful when someone wants you, and you want them back. But when you don't? That's when things get all sticky and hazy and decidedly unclean. 

For years I've been working on boundaries, mostly in dating, sex, and romantic relationship.

And now that I have my own businesses (as a copywriter, virtual assistant, and coach), I am finally beginning to understand why business partnerships are all nuzzled up and entwined with personal relationships in the seventh house of astrology.

Why? It's because business partnerships dredge up just as much deep wounding, just as many boundary issues, and just as many passive-aggressive texts as personal relationships.

My relationship to my business (i.e. how much time I spend on it, and how many hours I let fall in the strange, hazy, "I'm thinking non-stop about this client; shouldn't I be getting paid for this?" category) and my relationships to my clients (learning, in an excruciatingly slow manner, that I don't have to be a robot superwoman in every moment), have been my biggest spiritual crucibles this year. 

Question: How far will I push my body, in the name of making sure a client is pleased?

(Answer: Until it gets shingles, until the vision in my right eye goes pixelated and I can no longer really see, until I get a migraine, until my right breast gets a fibroid, until I have an anxiety attack. Will there be more? If I keep going in this direction, you betcha. Watch this exciting space to see what's next!)

Question: To what degree will I put my own needs aside for a paying clients'?

(Answer: I will roll out of bed and have your concert tickets purchased before I brush my teeth, stretch, or maybe even pee. From this place of immediate working upon waking, I will work straight through for nine hours, miss yoga, eat definitely too-old chicken off a carcass for "lunch," and suddenly realize my feet have been asleep for an hour, my neck is in the shape of a shriveled shrimp, and my entire being feels like an exposed nerve. Somehow, only two of these hours will be billable. From here, I'll get sick, and be forced to take the next three days off.)

I'm self-employed, right? You'd think that being self-employed means: Makes own hours. Has FREEDOM. Has nary (nary!) a care in the world. Holds headstands between emails. Emerges from pool to work on laptop in the sun.

Yet it's new for me, and it doesn't look like that. I've went from working a 9-5 six months ago, where I perhaps performed 20 hours of real work per week, to "Holy shit, I gotta pay my rent, pay my ridiculous personal development loans, build a business empire, and somehow have time to feel good in my body and maybe do a few things I like" hours per week. Which I'm told should be 40, but generally falls more around 30, because what the fuck is wrong with you, Americans? That's more than enough hours to work in a week.

So back to being in-demand. It's not that people are knocking down my door with amazing opportunities. Something wonderful comes up once in a while, yes. But more often, something subpar comes to town. A gig that pays much less than my going rate. An assisting position with a client who continuously breeches my boundaries.

And in these instances, though a large part of me says, "You need the money, take the fucking job," I find a more important, intuitive, and aligned part of me saying, "NO."

This is the part we listen to, kids. If I've learned anything, it's to listen to that deep, whispered knowing, even when that knowing doesn't seem to give a shit that rent is due Thursday. 

"No" always gives me pause though. Who am I to say no? Who am I to refuse money, to walk away from something that will pay my bills, and perhaps get me out of debt faster? Shouldn't I be thankful to be working? 

When my answer is no, I find it's really, really hard to take no for an answer. 

I question myself incessantly, second-guess myself, berate myself, and generally make myself sick. I pull oracle cards, I ask my dreams for guidance, I turn the idea over in my mind until I'm a living question mark. I turn a very loud, firm "no," into a feeble, excruciating, "Oh, god, I have no idea."

On the other side of the coin: when my answer is yes, I just skip off into the night. I don't question myself. And I know from experience that I've said yes to some terrible ideas, relationships, and clients. So why do I become such a wishy washy mop of gross when I dare to say no?

Well, we're not going to get out of this one without blaming gender conditioning, so let's just go ahead and do that. When you're conditioned to please, "no" becomes a dirty word. On top of that, you've got paradigms of lack—the idea that there isn't enough to go around, and we should indeed hop on every little opportunity that comes our way, instead of trusting that the Divine has the next best step laid out for us. Personally, I have a hard time saying no to clients because of a winning combination of survival fear, and being terrified of being seen as stupid, wrong, or not worth connection. 

Do you wanna hire me right now? I would. "This girl," I would think, "gets shit done."

Update, 8 months later: I'm so much better at this these days. Perfect? Hell no. But I'm learning boundaries, breaks, and more boundaries. I still work myself sick sometimes, with a belief that I "need" to. I'm still learning how to be, rather than do. I'm still learning what it's like to work at a computer and not have neck or back pain (as in, I have no idea how to work at a computer and not have pretty intense neck pain much of the time). 

I'm still learning how to prioritize my body's needs, and my soul's needs. And in our culture, that just might be a lifetime goal.