When I was a kid there were some things that worked:
Dolls and stuffed animals:
I had a lot of dolls and stuffed animals that I kept in the bed beside me when I was little.
Many years ago I started doing that again. It helps me. Sometimes I hold one when trying to take a nap or when laying down. Mostly I don’t touch them. I don’t need to touch them or touch them. I find them comforting being near me.
Paper Dolls: When I was ten I got ahold of some old Sears and JC Penny’s catalogs and cut out lots and lots of paper dolls. I spent a lot of time involved with my paper dolls. I used them to act out movies and plays I wrote in my head. This comforted me a lot. I didn’t stop until my sister shamed me into it when I was sixteen.
Play: I always loved playing. It always makes me feel good and happy. I still love playing. I love to play board games, but usually don’t have people to play with.
Pets: Doggies and kitties have always been powerful beings in my life. I live where there is a doggie. I get to play with the doggie a lot. It helps.
Being in nature: In my childhood I spent a lot of time outside. Some of it playing with others. Some of it by myself. Most of it involved nature.
Being in water: Although I never learned to swim when I was a child, I loved to go to with my father and brothers to the nearby swimming area. Bodies of water really do mean a great deal to me. I gain a lot of strength from them and going there. I haven’t been swimming in a pool for about two years and haven’t been swimming anywhere else in a really long time. I realize I need to do that more.
Bike riding has always meant freedom to me. I’ve never owned a car, but I imagine that is the kind of feeling I would have with one as well. There were some years that I did not have a bike. I finally bought a used bike and remember the first few times that I rode it and the feeling of exhilaration and excitement I felt. A feeling this runs over me when I bike that I can only identify as freedom. I love it.
I especially like to bike to the nearest small lake and ride around it. I have only done that a few times this year. It is great to combine two or more things that work together. I need to do it a lot more.
Putting something in my mouth:
When I was a kid I used to take the edge of the tshirt I was wearing and suck on it. It gave me a lot of comfort. It helped me to stop biting my finger nails completely off my body. Sometimes I would hold water or liquid I was drinking in my mouth for a minute before swallowing it. It feels comforting. I think it helped to calm my anxiety. I had a lot of it when I was a child.
I still bite my finger nails. I have tried a number of things but haven’t found something that works yet to do the same thing for me. I do like the hard candy named Coffee Nips. I’m working on finding more ways that comfort and soothe. I have a lot of food ideas, but I’m looking for something else that doesn’t include more food ideas.
A large part of feeling better when being alone as a child had to do with the kinds of people who were in my life. I liked being alone. I liked feeling safe. I’ve spent a lot of my adult life alone, so I didn’t think I would ever want to be alone. I’ve come to a space now where I realize that being alone is a good thing, some of the time, and when I need it, it makes me feel good and safe and calmer.
When I was a child there were some people in my life who could help me when I was being triggered, having flashbacks, or starting a panic attack. They saw what was going on and validated me. They knew I had been abused, they believed me, they cared about me, and when they distracted me, it worked. Without the compassion and validation, it is abusive, hurtful, demeaning, and invalidating. I don’t like it. I don’t appreciate it. It works when what I am going through is validated and I am loved.
What worked for you?