Enchantment and Consent

At what point does it become too much emotional pressure and too difficult for a person to say no? Not everyone finds it easy to say no – in all kinds of situations. So there are questions to ask about how we might support each other in holding healthy boundaries. If you’ve survived abuse, or been raised as a people pleaser, you might have a hard time saying no to people, especially if what’s being asked of you is emotionally loaded.

I have spent a long time trying to be someone it’s easy to say no to. That’s not been going well for me. It means I end up playing down how serious or urgent things are. It means something can be incredibly important to me and I’ll bring it up like it’s no big deal. I don’t want to be a nuisance, or an inconvenience, or make anyone uncomfortable or ask too much. But at the same time I’ve had a very rough time of it with suicidal ideation, and there are things I really need. It’s also not workable to have the people closest to me in a state of hyper-vigilance in case one of the things I casually mention turns out to be massive and loaded.

In terms of the things I need to function well, intensity is really important for me. I need to be emotionally overwhelmed, swept off my feet, blown away and otherwise captivated and enchanted. I need to feel so excited by things that I have no desire to decline even if saying yes has issues. In a world where everyone made it easy for me to say no to them all the time, I would struggle. 

There are no simple answers to any of this. I can be quite an overwhelming person when I’m not masking and muting myself, and that’s not for everyone. There are people who clearly like getting me on full blast. 

Enchantment isn’t safe, and anything emotionally loaded can lead a person to do things they might not otherwise have done. Somewhere in that misty landscape there’s a hard edge and beyond it what happens is definitely manipulation and definitely not ok. Sometimes enchantment looks far too much like dancing yourself to death, or heading off towards certain doom in the wake of the pied piper. But it doesn’t have to. Often growth and healing necessitate being outside your comfort zone but it does not follow that if you are outside your comfort zone you are growing or healing.

I’ve had plenty of experience of having my ability to consent compromised in all kinds of contexts where that was horrible. I’ve been swept off my feet as well. At the time, it isn’t always easy to tell what’s happening, or where the experience will take you or how you might feel about it with hindsight. Are you being love bombed in order to soften you up for manipulation, or have you truly found someone who can speak to your soul? Hard to tell. Is this tide going to carry you to new adventures, or drown you? There is no knowing.

I don’t want to be the tide that drowns anyone, but I’m not sure that I can both follow the call of enchantment and play safe in all possible ways. All I can do is try to make sure that people who get close enough to me that I could seriously impact on them also get some kind of vote.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

2 responses to “Enchantment and Consent

  • potiapitchford

    Personally I think you are very good at listening to other people’s needs. I also think you can be too good at trying to fill those needs sometimes. But that’s an external perspective and we see differently on the outside side to when we are inside a situation. I know you need to be needed, I get that because I do too. I know you want to be wanted too, to feel connected and inspired. I like to be a safe space for people, a comfort and support.
    And I have no idea where I’m going with this…
    The threads of thought have broken off and been pulled away spinning.
    Love the way you frame things in different ways and make me think.

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