Why do we mask ?. Do we feign interest so we appear, to NTs, “normal” and part of THEIR society ?. Do we avoid stimming to avoid embarrassment ?. Do we wear “sensible” clothes (insert appropriate hand actions for inverted commas here) because we believe (probably know) that is what society expects ?.
Masking harms us. No matter how good we are at it, how proficient, it harms us.
In fact the damage we do to ourselves is tantamount to a slow, lingering death. And no, I am not joking.
The strain we put on ourselves, holding ourselves in, being someone other than we really are. The toll it takes on us day in day out is beyond the comprehension of most. It’s an exhausting process, deeply debilitating and, oddly enough, extremely hard to extricate ourselves from. I can’t go home and instantly change into ME. Often I find myself unable to take the mask off and find myself trapped within it through the evening. Its stuck to me with super glue, consuming me, reducing the real ME to a tiny fragment of personality desperately trying to claw its way out.
Letting go is no simple process.
Sometimes I find myself having to slip in and out of the mask to satisfy NT requirements if the phone rings. I have to be sensible, that awful “normal” word.
And I hate it.
It is so tiring.
It’s not a paid role. We are not acting. We are surviving. We are going undercover in an alien world trying to blend in; trying to avoid detection and being outed by those who believe, even claim, that they “Know” Autism better than we do ourselves.
Masking is, in this humble bloggers opinion, a form of self harm. We are denying our own identities; our true selves, and, in doing so, we are not living the lives we should be living but allowing ourselves to be treated as simply another person when we should be out and celebrating our skills, our talents and the many important contributions the Autistic community has made, does make and will make to an overwhelmingly neurotypical society that benefits from those skills and talents yet continues to demean us and treat Autism as sometimes little more than a cheap jibe.
We are better than that.
I am proud to be Autistic and wouldn’t change it, wouldn’t “cure” it in a million years. It’s who I am, it’s my identity and I am tired of having to deny who I really am for fear of misunderstandings, embarrassment and more.
I am tired of masking. Tired of harming myself by treating myself as something less than the whole of my parts.
I’m tired of not respecting myself enough to stand up for ME.
It’s time to cast the mask aside.
It’s time to stop.
Who is with me ?.