Something that's been on my mind lately is the fact that I clearly have Separation Anxiety.
This isn't a mental health post!! Don't worry! I'm not going to be talking about problems, woes, medications, or anything like that! I do think that Separation Anxiety, for me personally, is part of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder as a whole. But I don't think this is the case for everyone.
When you think of Separation Anxiety, you think of little kids because it's normal for them to have a fear of adults leaving them behind. They don't necessarily understand that their usual caretaker will come back or that things will return to normal; they have a fear of being in a new or overwhelming place without the person or people they know. Time is very long when you're a child and an hour can seem like an eternity.
I definitely had Separation Anxiety as a child. I remember breaking down in abrupt tears in front of my kindergarten classroom and not wanting to leave my mom, even though I'd been in kindergarten for two months and had been going to preschool and had baby-sitters over the summers while my mom was at work before that. The teacher talked me into the room and let me sit by a boy who was my neighbor at the time because he was a familiar person to me.
There is such a thing as Adult Separation Anxiety but I really can't tell whether some of these symptoms, for me, are specifically Separation Anxiety as opposed to a normal aspect of having Generalized Anxiety.
What's put this realization about Separation Anxiety on my mind is that I am taking a trip next week, and I've been thinking about which Blythe I want to bring... and then considering, Do I really need to bring a Blythe?
I've traveled with Blythes before, but they've all been roadtrips with friends who didn't mind my dolls being around. I once took Aury, Beatrix, Plummery, and Gavin to Eureka Springs. Aury's been with me to Dallas and Kansas City. It's always been fun to have one along with me. Taking a Blythe with me on a plane will be a new experience for me, though, and I am feeling a little stressed about the idea of plane + being around people who might judge me for bringing a doll with me.
My question is, Why don't I just go without a Blythe?
But then I realized that dragging my stuff around me is a lifelong pattern for me. It's so ingrained that I hadn't really thought about it before now. I take familiar things with me everywhere. It must somehow be comforting to me, although I don't totally understand why I should be in need of the comfort sometimes... Just knowing I have whatever it is I'm feeling attached to with me makes me feel less adrift and alone.
I wasn't in traditional daycare as a little kid, but there were daycare spots available for when my parents wanted to go out for the evening, or whatever, and I would bring things from home even though I was told not to. I would bring my teddy bear at the risk that some other child would steal it (which they did, although I did get it back when my parents confirmed it was mine). I was simply unwilling to be separated from it. I once had a sheet of totally awesome holographic She-Ra stickers with me at the same daycare. My parents warned me not to take them. But to keep other kids from just taking and using them, I kept it them in my coat pocket, and my coat was kept out of the gated-off playroom area. I crept out of the playroom to go look at and feel the stickers several times. I can't explain why. It was like some kind of talisman for me. By the time my parents picked me up, though, they were gone. I can only guess some kid saw me looking at them and nicked them from my pocket. I've never forgotten those She-Ra stickers!!
In elementary school I would take various things with me to school, just to have with me and look at throughout the day. I took Pleasant Company catalogues (you know, the company that sold the American Girls dolls), cassette tapes (I really have no idea why!! It's not like I could listen to them!), family pictures, books, cereal box prizes or other similar small plastic toys, one time a specific bar of soap... which in hindsight makes no sense. When I'd spend the night with friends, I had to have one of my own toys with me. I also often took my own blanket, even if it was unnecessary. While it was normal to bring things like movies to watch with others, as this was back in the day of VHS tapes, sometimes I would take a movie that I was all hung up on and not tell anyone. I'd just have it with me. You know! Because!!
I never stopped doing this, although the objects changed and varied.
In middle/high school I took heavy reams of my own writing and art to school rather than leave them at home where they belonged, brought CDs with me (again, even if I couldn't listen to them, just being with them made me feel comforted, and I would look at the art/lyrics), lugged around my Hello Kitty stationery junk with stamps and stickers and other things I could not use for school at all. I carried around letters from pen pals and other tokens of friendship rather than leave them at home.
When I started carrying a purse circa age 15, the concealment and carrying of items became easier, and maybe also normalized carrying stuff around, a bit. Lots of purse-carriers wind up carrying extraneous things with them everywhere, every day!
In my late teens/early twenties, when I had pet rodents (I had hamsters, mice, and many many rats), I would sometimes take them with me overnight to friends' houses. Even if their cage was large and it was a pain!
As I've grown older -- and I'm a full-fledged adult, mind you -- I have never ceased carrying around comfort objects. I have remained Linus with his security blanket all these years. And sometimes that blanket is a literal blanket.
Now it is Blythes that I am wont to take with me away from the comfort of home. When I first got Aury, she went everywhere with me for a long time.
Even if they stay concealed in my purse the entire time I'm out, or they merely stand on the bedside table of wherever I'm visiting and I don't really "play" with them, it's like they assure me that all is normal and well. I absolutely think of them as comfort objects in my daily life, so they are even moreso when I am away from home, too. I can think, "I am okay, since Aury is with me. I am not that far away from home." I can't explain it any better than that.
Yes, I think if I had a fun photo op, it'd be cool to have a Blythe there with me on my trip! I don't want to weird anyone out, nor do I want to put any of my dolls in danger of getting damaged, but I can't help thinking about taking one. I'm undecided at the moment.