There is one aspect of being autistic that I don’t always understand: masking. Masking is a way that autistics have tried to adapt to the neurotypical world. We see what ways non-autistics might communicate, through verbal and nonverbal communication, and we use what we see to blend in. Sometimes these skills are taught through personal experiences or bad therapy, but it puts on a false facade. It makes us look “normal”, but it’s not our normal. It isn’t an accurate display of autism.
I don’t always understand masking because I thought it didn’t apply to me. I don’t hide my emotions. The other thing was I didn’t know who I was. I used to think that autism was a disadvantage. That there were people I knew who would be like me without my autism. That view was flawed. If I removed my autism, I wouldn’t be like them. I wouldn’t even be like me. I would be someone else completely, and only God knows that. Autism colors every aspect of my life. Masking is not really an autistic trait, but an autistic adaption. As for me, I didn’t know who I was beneath the mask of how I interacted with people.
There are different ways we humans adapt to the social norms. It’s hard to be open to others when they may not always be there for us. When trauma occurs, there’s an inclination to block out the feelings and build a wall. Build a Wall and have someone else pay for it. Or build a Wall and get over it. I’m defining a “Wall” as a defense mechanism to hide the emotions and trauma associated with life and carry on.
The problems with these two facades that they can be damaging to ourselves. Too much masking can cause disillusionment and autistic burnout. That sounds familiar. It wears on me to feel like I have some type of social expectations that aren’t meant for me. It’s exhaustion to point where the brain can’t operate. As for walls, walls block love. Keeping all the emotions inside is damaging because there’s no openness to heal. It bottles up the emotions with no release.
It takes at least one person to tear down the facades, and let them fall. It’s someone who approaches the facade with love and sees beyond to the person behind the mask, the person behind the wall. Love pursues the truth behind the fake facades. God has placed people in our lives to help us break down these facades, because they echo his love. His love takes off all the masks and the walls and sees the person behind them. Every person is called to be who they are created to be. I have bore witness to many people who enter to the person underneath the mask and allow me to be wacky and quirky. I’m allowed to be me because of these people and I’m glad God has given me so many friends. I hope that we can better understand what we go through when the mask is put on, and the wall is built, so we have the ability to take off the mask, tear down the wall and be honest with ourselves.
Be yourself as you are created, which is good. #takeoffthemask
The Nerd of May