Draw the line
I am learning about setting boundaries recently. This is a difficult step for me, as I like people to like me, so find it hard to say no...anyone else identify?
In the last little while I have been realising how setting boundaries is actually more helpful for others, because they get more of an idea of how much I can do.
I think this is all part of deciding to be more up front about my Aspergers, and the overload issues it brings.
In the past I've managed to cover it all up and pretend to be the same as everyone else. For a long time I managed it. But it seems lately, perhaps with the lower energy of age, I haven't been able to fake it like in the past. I've been suddenly becoming overwhelmed in situations I once managed in. This is quite difficult to discover, that I have to do less, and ask for more help.
I am the person who likes to dig in and work, and work, and work! I like to help and become deeply connected to projects I embark on. Now, I struggle to start, not knowing how much energy I will have at my disposal, and how much I can trust myself not to have a meltdown in public. This has happened, multiple times in the past.
So my new strategy has been to go on a low dose of antidepressants, which seems to be giving me more of a coping window. I also have found aids like weighted blankets which help to calm my highly agitated system. I now alert people like Drs early in a consultation that I may suddenly get overwhelmed, and what form that will take. It seems that by announcing my difficulties I relax into the session, and so far have not melted down...which is amazing, as this was one of the more common places before.
So, back to boundaries. I recently sent out a letter to my closer friends asking their pardon for not contacting them recently, in letter or text etc. I said it was because I need my limited energy for day to day tasks, writing this blog which is giving me so much joy, and occasional musical sessions like teaching singing. This makes me feel highly uncomfortable, but I've realised that in the long run it's better for me. I hope my friends understand, and that I will work out ways to keep in touch which my energy resources allow.
I'm learning in family time, to ask for help from my kids, or say sorry I can't do the dishes, or I need some time out, without the searing guilt I have felt before. I am very good at guilt I've discovered, and it really is only self manufactured. So I throw it away.
I have decided not to apologise for needing these accommodations, as I would before. I didn't ask for this disability, so it's not my fault, so therefore I have nothing to apologise or feel guilty for!
I am concerned my kids growing up with a disabled parent will feel unsupported, with a sense of vertigo. I don't like that they see me fall apart. That sometimes I am in tears in situations that to the casual glance doesn't warrant it.
I hope they are learning skills around supporting the weaker, and caring for others.
I am glad that they know my struggle, that my brain sometimes shuts up shop. And very occasionally I see them looking at me for understanding when they go through similar instances. A feeling of kindred spirits.
For this I am grateful, that I have an insider viewpoint and understanding in these tricky times.
I won't allow any more negative self talk about how lazy or weak or tense or afraid etc. etc. I am. I am drawing boundaries around my self talk as well. I think this might be the hardest fight of all, because it's where it all stems from!
So this is my current coalface. Maybe in time, I will be proud of myself as well!