I've been thinking quite a bit about the word "No". For a long time, I rarely voiced that "No" even when it was appropriate. It was so deeply conditioned, by the vanilla and later the kink world, that I wouldn't even think about saying "No" until later, after the moment.
It's a difficult thing to explain. At my core, I try very hard to please people. There's the natural aspect where it makes me happy. The developed portion comes from fear. I learned from an early age to be and do what people wanted, or else I'd get yelled at and beat. Add in verbal humiliation from various extended family members over the years, and it's a wonder that I manage as well as I do.
Over the years, it did become easier. I was able to hide more and was no longer as fearful of making my own decisions. But I would do anything for a significant other and my friends. I made major life choices in the past because I wanted to make a significant other happy. Whether I was happy or not was insignificant at the time of the decision. This was before I even became involved with BDSM.
I'll leave it your imaginations as to how badly that went for my well being. I always have a breaking point though, when I'm torn between being pleasing and voicing what's right for me. At the moment of the break, I want both and they're always incompatible. But heck, I'm easy to train and it sticks. There is still left over programming in my mind from past relationships. A breaking point may occur several times before I'm finally done. Eventually self-preservation wins out. The desire for happiness wins out.
Friendships are surprisingly more difficult for me to say "No" than in relationships. Likely because in relationships I don't really ever say "No" until things are irreparable, heh. But with friendships, I know there is a line. Most times I have no idea what that line is. I want to make my friends happy. If it involves something that will be enjoyable to both or all parties, I struggle with keeping a defined boundary. I may not even want whatever is being offered, but in order to be pleasing, I go along with it. At any other time, it's something I'd want. So I rationalize away that it's not a big deal and to simply go along with it.
I think Sir may have an idea this is the case, but likely not the depths in which it exists. It's a complex system in my head. My happiness and peace of mind is far lower on the priority list than anyone would guess. It's gotten a lot better over the last year, with Sir's help. Hell, even why I ask for permission is multi-purposed. I don't think He's ever required it of me, not after all this time.
Part is truly out of respect. I don't want to do anything that would hurt, upset or piss Him off. Part is it keeps me honest and forthright. And thrown in that mix is I know Sir always has my well being in mind. If I mentioned something that He thought wasn't good for me, He'd ask me more about it.
I do see some progress though. Granted, Sir could ask me to do a hell of a lot without me batting an eye...things that would likely scare people. I don't always have healthy boundaries, which is why it's a very good thing that He's an incredibly moral and kind-hearted man. But I have seen some minor differences with other people. I no longer feel like I have to fix everyone else's problems. I'm working on not overextending myself emotionally. There are definitely more physical limitations and expressing boundaries.
All of that still feels very unnatural, though. I'm working towards having my and Sir's happiness being top priority. He's just going to have to live with that, lol. Especially since as of right now, He holds that top position on His own. Something else that may be news to Him. The difference between this relationship and past unhealthy ones is that making Sir happy doesn't require me to be unhappy and dissatisfied. I'm not compromising who I am in order to make Him happy. I couldn't have always said that in the past.
So, hooray for progress? Lol