I’ve talked about my trouble with edges. This is one of the reasons routine and familiarity is so important for me.
Sameness allows me to stop worrying about my edges. If I’m anxious and I feel like I’m losing them, I use familiar routines to keep hold of them. Familiar things work like signposts to the reality of my existence. Even when my internal self is in chaos, I can check on my consistent surroundings to keep hold of things. Routine also allows me to protect myself from unnecessary input. If I’m in a situation that I know is safe and familiar, then I don’t need to be on alert for danger or threats.
If I’m overwhelmed after a loud party, I can retreat to the safety of consistency. I can sit on my bed and turn on my laptop and use the familiarity around me to re-draw my edges after they’ve been overwritten and erased.
If I’m stressed and anxious and I feel my edges starting to disappear, I can try to protect myself by using routine to reinforce them. I deliberately avoid unfamiliar or new things so that I have the best chance of staying calm.
If I’m too tired to figure out how I feel or what I want, I can keep myself going and save decision-making energy by relying on sameness. I return to what I know – eat the foods I always like, do the things I always enjoy – and save my cognitive energy for the essentials.
If I’m anticipating something difficult or overwhelming I can plan and prepare to make things as predictable and familiar as possible. I make sure to have whatever safe and reliable anchors I can gather around myself – books, toys, people.
All of these things might look like irrational rigidity from the perspective of a neurotypical person. But they’re actually coping mechanisms. The world is scary and overwhelming a lot of the time, in ways that people don’t always understand. The best way for me to handle that is to impose order wherever I can.