The Right To Say No

images-1It was Thanksgiving Eve when I received an email from an acquaintance pleading with me to come to dinner.

He had already asked a few weeks ago when I politely declined.

I’m having 8 people, and one’s just cancelled. I need you, or my table will be ruined.

This is hard for me but I’ll explain, why I had no desire to go.

I can’t hear.

When I’m in a group, in a room even medium sized, it’s as if I’m sitting in the center of a big bee hive. It actually hurts my ears to strain and listen to sounds so foreign to me now.

I’ve told him this on more than one occasion, but it seems to elude him as if I’m just telling tall tales. I realize, unless you’ve had the experience of sitting in the wilderness, it is hard to comprehend what it’s like, but that’s as magnanimous as I’ll get.

I don’t know why I was stricken with hearing loss, but what I’ve learned to do these past 2 years, is to accept it and not push against the reality since it makes it all the more painful.

Things happen to people. We get sick…go through treatment hoping to come out the other side, and thank God, many of us do. How many women do I know who battled breast cancer…lost their hair…lost their minds, and are now healthy, and even able to talk about it.

There’s the group of course who didn’t make it….Bill Hicks at 32…my friend Nancy…55.

I’m one of the luckier ones. My affliction is very specific…localized in its own little sphere. I can still do everything, except maybe participate at an intimate dinner party, contributing comfortably.

Illness educates. It tells you what’s important and what isn’t. And an empty seat at someone’s annual holiday table does not make the cut.

The following morning, I received another email from this fellow, this time berating me for my selfishness. How I couldn’t see past myself to help him when he was in need.

Let me just say once again, how lucky we are I don’t own a gun since my ire went up like a Bunsen burner.

We have a right to say no…it’s a complete sentence.

Don’t wait for illness to teach you this lesson.

Choosing oneself over the random needs of others should come under The Bill of Rights, and no one should ever try to shame you for doing what’s best for you.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
This entry was posted in friendship, Health, humor, New York City and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to The Right To Say No

  1. micklively says:

    I struggle to make sense of the cacophony at a dinner party and I’m blessed with good hearing. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for you, with all that background noise and big dollops of pain thrown in too.


  2. micklively says:

    Like the Beatles said “closer, let me whisper in your ear”.


  3. AF says:

    I certainly understand the hearing issue. Although mine is of a different variety, the annoyance factor is similar. I’ve been trying to explain it to people for years, but from now on I think I’ll just send them a link to this post. You are such a brilliant writer, this post is so informative and laced with your ever present humor. “Bunsen burner” -I’m glad you don’t own a gun too!


  4. Lynn says:

    Okay, first of all, this guy needs to understand that the world is not going to come to a complete standstill because he has 7 vs 8 people around his table at a dinner party! Can you say, “I am the center of the universe?” Holy moly!!!!

    Secondly, I commend you for standing your ground & not putting yourself in a situation that will only cause you frustration!

    I had a small glimpse into your world when I was in Morocco last spring. I had a completely plugged right ear for the 3 weeks we were away. It just about drove me nuts! With the combination of not being able to hear & the language barrier, I felt like a compete idiot some days. Pardon? What did you say? Sorry, I didn’t hear you. Thankfully, mine was resolved when I got home with gallons of water flushed into my head!


  5. katecrimmins says:

    Can’t believe he was ballsy enough to make it about him. There are people I love to have at my parties because they are fun but it would be crass to intimidate them into coming. I don’t get a “perfect table” anyway. Anyone who can set a beautiful table can make it work for any number. Perhaps he’s a former acquaintance?


  6. gmg says:

    AMEN, Susannah. You said it best……


  7. I am one who tends to say “yes” automatically although I’ve been changing a little over the years, learning to say no. I know what you mean about learning from illness, even though it’s frustrating.


  8. Elle Knowles says:

    If he was a real friend he would understand and not want to put you in that position. I’ve said before that can I see this happening to H. I find myself having to repeat and it’s hard to remember to speak louder than what is normal. Hope your Thanksgiving was not ruined by HIS selfishness!


    • It was not…my level of guilt over many things has lessened considerably. I feel entitled, not my favorite word, but in any event, to do what’s comfortable for me. People don’t get it…and in a way, I’m happy they don’t. I wouldn’t wish hearing loss on anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. skinnyuz2b says:

    I’m sorry your hearing loss has interfered with your ability to interact. So frustrating. There was a letter to Ann Landers a day or two ago. The writer’s husband was in the same situation and stated how they were avoided and isolated as a couple because it was almost impossible to interact with him.
    I’m glad you stuck to your guns. There is no reason to subject yourself to what would not be a pleasant evening. Of course, there are times we need to do what isn’t pleasant, but this was not one of them.


    • It does get lonely at times Skinny, but that’s when I turn to my books and writing since they both never fail me. Sadly, the only thing teaching people in life is personal experience.
      After reading about when Jackie Kennedy got so suddenly sick, at one point she said, it was a blessing in the sense, she had never appreciated life’s many subtle beauties until her illness. She’d look over at the park, a view she had for over 30 years, and see it truly for the first time.
      It’s a pity we have to wait for dark clouds to move us into the light.


  10. Although you would rock that orange jumpsuit like no ones business, I’m glad you don’t have a gun either.
    I’m still trying to wrap my head around the tragedy of an uneven table ….. hahaha


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.