|Playing Peek-a-boo with a baby helps them learn that things|
still exist, even when you can't see them!
The hardest thing right now is that, although I am not leaving until Wednesday morning, my mom has to stay in the city overnight for work tomorrow night, so I have to say goodbye to her tomorrow morning. I have to keep reminding myself that I will see her again, this summer at the latest!
There are two things that are helping me understand what I am going through right now. One is what my therapist, Julie, described to me the other day as "object permanence." Object permanence is something children learn when they are really young. The reason a baby cries when his mother leaves the room, or even when you hide his toy or something under a blanket, is because he doesn't realize that anything exists when he can't see it. In his mind, when his mother disappears around the corner, she literally disappears! Not that a baby consciously thinks, "Oh no, my mom is gone, and now I will have to fend for myself." But they just emotionally feel sad and anxious when their mother disappears. (Or another caregiver. Obviously babies love their dads too!) As the baby gets older and you play games like "Peekaboo" with him, he starts to realize that there is a whole world outside of his immediate line of vision. When his mother leaves the room, she still exists, but just in another room, and she will most likely be back soon.
I logically know that things do not disappear when I cannot see them. But I am kind of a sensory mess, and I process things largely through the sense of touch. You can tell this anytime you go into a clothing store with me. I have to touch every item, even when I have no interest in looking at it or buying it. I just need to feel the world around me. People tease me because I lie on the ground a lot, even outside, but this is just another way that I process the world. And when I am away, although I can picture home in my mind, even look at photos of my family members, when I am not able to touch the table, touch the floor, touch the soft red blanket on the chair in the living room, etc, some part of me feels like those things have stopped existing. And even though I can Skype, call, and text my family members who are behind in Chicago, if I am not in the room with them feeling their energy, it is not right.
Another thing that explains a lot is this article I saw on Facebook, 13 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Anxiety. The whole article is relevant to me, but one paragraph really struck me as describing this situation:
9. They can find change difficult (even if it’s expected)
Everyone has a comfort zone, anxiety or not. Pushing that comfort zone can be difficult for even the most well-adjusted person, so for people with anxiety it can be even more challenging. This is not to be confused with the sentiment that those with anxiety dislike change or pushing their comfort zones, because they will likely thrive once they’re actually in the process of doing so. They can just find it a lot more difficult to bring themselves to do so.
The one relief people with anxiety tend to get from their anxiety is when they’re allowed to be in their place of comfort with nothing major changing around them. When they’re faced with a big change and uprooting, it can take them a lot longer to settle back down and establish that zone again. Just remember to have a little more patience and understanding for those with anxiety. They’re trying, they really are.This explains me a lot. For me, home is my comfort zone. Even if I go somewhere for a short while, like work or to the store, I am experiencing various levels of anxiety. When I get home from work, I often suddenly find myself extremely tired, or even falling asleep, even though I was wide awake all day. I think this is because during the day I am anxious, and when I get home I am exhausted from being "on guard" all day. Often when I am out of the house, I comfort myself by imagining one of my dogs walking with me, or my guardian angel cat Sammy-Joe sitting on my shoulder. This is why it is good for me to have an emotional support animal - Lily - because she is my mobile comfort zone.
I am excited to get to Oregon! But it is a huge change, and that is nerve wracking. It is helpful to know that there are reasons I'm feeling this way, and I'm not just weird!
OK. I have to go pack. I don't know when I will check in again... maybe from the road!