We think of this mainly in terms of when it gets breached, someone stepping too close or maybe unwanted touching. But our personal space(s) are many and complex. One of the most important is that space we reserve just for ourselves. A sanctuary that can take a multitude of forms from five minutes alone in the bathroom to an evening at home with an open fire and warm socks, pretending to be in a Lindt chocolate advert.
This is what we call ‘Me Time’ and it is personal space, or if we are to be really precise about it personal space-time. It is both a place and time in that place.
It is more than that, though, because our personal spaces are part of our self.
The space we occupy and how we use it should be ours to determine, but of course the world has other ideas about that from social media intrusion to last-minute work deadlines to a sick kid taking days off school. Each time this world takes a piece of our time and our space, it intrudes. Often we are okay with this because we would not think to resent a child for needing care, we actually welcome hugs from loved ones, are prepared to lose an evening to hit a deadline on a project we’ve been passionate about (especially if there’s overtime pay).
But there are points in the day or week where actually we just need to kick off the work shoes and close the door behind us. This applies to everyone, but for those who handle extra pressures or stresses, such moments are harder won and more precious for it.
And this is where we put in the ‘Autistic angle’ as a twist in the tail. Here it comes…
Autistic people are just like any people. We deal with daily intrusions and hassles, and have a need for me time just like everyone else. That need is all the greater, though, because of the ongoing stresses of being questioned, denied, excluded and intruded upon that are a peculiar feature of how non-Autistic people often treat us.
Me Time is essential. It is where the person you are, perforce clenched into defensive stance in response to an unforgiving world, can unfurl.
We each are entitled to mark out a space in life, in this world, and call it our own. So when you can, unfurl. Open your arms and touch the edges of the space you own. Stretch out and claim your space and make note of it’s extent. This is your entitlement, not something you secretly borrow from the world.
Remember that space, and as you feel others push in and intrude and lay claim, keep in mind that it is in you and you alone that ownership lies. You are entitled to push back. If you need to, you can say No. If required, you can say Enough!