Do autistics really have difficulties with expressing their emotions?

I posted something autism related on Polish Facebook group related to psychology and somebody asked me if I have difficulties with expressing my emotions. That is apparently one of an autism trait. But only when I was asked this question in such a direct way the truth became apparent to me: I don’t have difficulties with expressing my emotions. I just don’t express them. It is neurotypical people interpretation that we have those difficulties and the way how it’s phrased implies that we want and try to express emotions but it doesn’t work for us.

While the truth is, very often I don’t want people to know how I’m feeling. Even if I’m aware of my emotions, I don’t want to share them, it seems they’re very private. Again, I don’t think this has anything to do with fear of rejection or anything like that. I just genuinely want to keep my emotions to myself.

Also, I don’t understand how the fact that I revealed my emotions would help other people? You’d expect they will be the same respectful whether they know that I’m for example sad about my mum’s passing away, or if they don’t know that. If they need to know that I’m sad to treat me better, then well – they should imagine that I am, instead of assuming that I’m not, only because I didn’t express it. That’s how I see it: assuming that I don’t feel something because I didn’t express it is very disrespectful and quite possibly sign of limited ability to empathise with people.

I remember, when I was attending counselling, which was very shortly before I realised I’m autistic, the therapist was frequently prompting me to assess how I felt about different situations that happened to me. I wouldn’t go for anything like that now, but at the time I saw my resistance as a sign that this is what I need to fix myself. So what I used to tell her? ‘That situation made me feel like running away’, ‘this made me feel like hiding myself’. And she had loads of problems with that. By this day I don’t understand why? Why I was expected to be able to name my feelings? It was obvious that if I talk about running away, it was because I didn’t like the situation, was it? How putting a name on the feeling was supposed to help?

Now I feel I have loads more confidence to refuse to give in to that notion that says expressing our feelings helps. Obviously, I still express some of them. Like love for example. I mean that was before I broke up with John, but even after that I told him I love him. But most of the time I don’t express my feelings and I really do hope that one day the world will get on with it.

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