Saturday, October 8, 2016

Autism Answer: Naked

The other day I was chit-chatting and reminiscing with one of my adult sons. He's struggling lately with a strong discomfort around people outside of our family. He's tempted to allow his social anxiety to turn into social distaste and righteous anger at humanity. I get it, but I also know that it's not the best choice. Turning our fears and discomfort (largely because of feeling judged harshly) into harsh judgement isn't the healthiest recipe for happiness and helpfulness. So, we were talking about that. 

ME: Do you remember how much you loved people when you were little? You were the first to reach out and offer friendship to anyone, regardless of their age. Do you remember how happy you almost always were? 

ADULT SON: Sure, of course. But I was also always naked so it was easy. 

ME: (laughing heartily) Oh.... ya! (wiping tears and holding in pee) That's true! People sure did think I was weird letting you guys - especially you! - be naked all the time. But you liked it!! You were more comfortable! How could I not allow it?? 

Our conversation (and giggles) soon shifted from thoughts of living on a nudist colony to movies we want to write. Eventually I was able to bring us back around to our original topic (a trick that I've learned not to do if it can't be natural; my sons and I learn so much more when conversation is organic).

ME: You know, you don't have to be naked to find a way to tap into the part of you that can be comfortable. Remembering that being naked helped you when you were little is a clue: not dealing with that extra sensory discomfort made you free to be comfortable. Maybe take some time to figure out what your discomforts are now, and I'll help you choose which ones you can easily discard. Or "disrobe" if you will. 

ADULT SON: I get it, I get it. See if any of my discomforts are from rules made up by humans and not so much about me and who I am; who I want to be. See if I can just let some of the discomfort go. Stop caring about some of it.

ME: Yup! You got it! And, hey, if ya wanna be naked go to Europe. I saw whole families naked on the beach, comfortable and free. 

ADULT SON: Gross. 

Again, we laughed. 

We all have extra layers of discomfort. It helps to remind ourselves that some of those layers are completely unnecessary and worth discarding in order to get at the deeper discomforts with a little more ease. Once our worries and fears are completely naked they can look a little less intimidating. And we feel a little less encumbered. It becomes less overwhelming and more like a job that can get done. (Example: I used to think that I had to try to wear clothes that were nice, age appropriate, and if not flattering, at least not unflattering. But I found that so unnecessarily stressful! As soon as I let go of caring - even though I know there are people who do care and who do judge me because of it - every single day became far more comfortable.)

Honestly, most of my discomforts are rather silly! Beliefs I created so long ago they no longer are compatible with who I am today, so they sit there glitching my system. Once I see them for what they are, I can toss them out completely or give them a personalized upgrade. 

You don't have to get naked friends (although, you can!) but it is a good idea to let go of the stuff that doesn't truly matter to you as much as it seems to matter to the community around you, so that you can clearly see the stuff that truly does matter to you. The stuff that makes you proud, nervous, comfortable, uncomfortable, happy, content. Then, upgrade and update when necessary. Undress or dress up as desired. 

Have fun peeling those layers, friends!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

The stories and thoughts in my book are quite naked and a little self-conscious but mostly comfortable. Have a peek!