>My mom says that when a baby is tiny, it can’t fall asleep itself or calm itself down at all. Its parents literally have to do everything for it at first. But its the parents’ job to teach that baby how to calm itself down and put itself to sleep. It can’t be rocked to sleep for the rest of its life, and the earlier the baby learns, the easier life will be for the parents, and later, the baby.
I must be capable of reassuring myself, because I did learn to put myself to sleep (although it took until I was solidly 5 years old). But let me tell you, it’s hard work. I need to be reassured by other people about almost everything. I frequently ask “…right?” questions or, another common one, “I’m okay?” I just don’t know for myself if I really am or not. I have to ask.
This is getting ugly, because I’m getting a little controlling about where Leigh is. I need to know. If she doesn’t answer, I get anxious. I tell myself that she’s just at a movie, or at a friend’s apartment, or left her phone in her room for a while, but it doesn’t work. I still feel like I need to know that she’s “within reach” by text or phone call or email. I’m afraid that she won’t be there to reassure me about something, and then what will I do? Falling apart isn’t a logical solution.
So we have work to do. She’s starting to implement the waiting strategy: telling me to wait fifteen minutes and just tolerate the anxiety. She says it’s simple to reassure myself. Just get calm (basically, find a cat) and then think logically. So if I’m anxious about where she is, I need to find Elsie and then think, “It’s not my job to be in charge of where she goes. She can take care of herself.”
Autism is certainly a conundrum at times. I have such a strong inner world, that in so many ways, I would almost rather be without people. I’m only capable of any attachment with people very rarely, but when it happens, it can get complicated. This is frustrating to me. I want to be able to form attachments without such difficulty but also to have enough of a sense of self that I can reassure myself. My sense of self frequently falters and I need other people to put it back into place for me. I guess reassurance is a good first step.
Find a cat and think logically. Might as well give it a shot.