Adulting: Knowing You’re Not Ready Yet

Being an autistic adult and knowing that after you try something and realizing that you are not ready to make that change on a consistent basis is something that can be hard to digest. It makes you feel guilty because you are being selfish, but then seeing all the things that happened over the past few years and even in the past few weeks makes me realize that it is Ok to accept that everything doesn’t go exactly to plan or fall back into place.

In the past month, I started to go to my pre-pandemic routine, but a few weeks ago, I realized that my ability to withstand the motions of the day’s routine was becoming very challenging to endure. I recognized the need of taking a day for self-care. It was nice and much deserved. However, by the following week, the same thing occurred again. I was at first frustrated because I didn’t want to seem weak by having to take more time for myself again and set my responsibilities aside for my needs.

But the second week had produced a lot against me. A very unique schedule, my parents out of town for a few days, bouts of excessive sensory overload at both the day program and work, poor sleep hygiene off and on throughout the week along with challenging bouts of intrusive thoughts have at the end of the day before realizing to acknowledge time for self-care made it more prevalent than not. While I learned that certain things would not need my attention on the day I would elect to care for my needs, it made the decision somewhat easier to make.

However, the decision was not easy to accept. My parents were out of town and that would mean that I would have to rely on myself for my needs. This is what part of being an adult is. I am an adult and as such I shouldn’t have to seek my parent’s approval to take care of myself. It is a behavior because for the majority of my life, I lived under their roof and to this day I highly seek the approval of my mother because we often co-regulate off of each other. However, this time, I had to accept that this had to be a decision “by me, for me.” Not to worry about making it and caring for my own needs.

Doing this can set my mindset back into that child-like state of mind where you think you are doing something bad that you would think that your parents wouldn’t like you to do and if they find out, you’re going to be chastised or be told new parameters before doing things that you want to do, thus reducing your personal freedoms. But, I am a 37 year old man who lives on his own and can care for his own needs. Unless those circumstances were not true, there is no reason that I cannot do as I want to do as long as I am caring for myself. There isn’t any harm in doing things that you recognize that you need, but others may not understand.

Considering all the things that I do, even some that have a magnitude that my parents may not recognize, it isn’t a wonder that I haven’t broken down already. Recognizing that I need to care for myself is a BIG step and while I previously recognized the need to do this, I really wasn’t in the place to do so or it was more detrimental to do so. I do realize that I am learning and growing into more of my own independent self. It can be hard to break away from my parents and still share that mutual connection even if our values don’t align. I am learning more and more how my brain works and realizing that I need to consider my needs while doing what is necessary.
This does not mean to forgo everything like my anxiety often tells me to want to do. I have accepted that here and the path I am following is what I need to do until another opportunity or option presents itself. For the time being, I need to work on my personal needs and take care of myself while doing what is necessary so I do not falter into a worse situation as I was years ago, Things are going well for the most part, I realize that it is my anxiety that produces a heightened state of fear and therefore, I need to see all sides of the situations that I have to endure in order to get through life.

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