A few more words about unmasking

Yesterday I wrote that I always feel like I’m acting when I’m around other people and later on I realised that is not technically correct. I don’t ALWAYS feel like I’m acting, I only feel like I’m acting when I’m about to say something and I’m deciding what that should be. So I presume I could totally unmask but the price that I’d have to pay for it would be to keep quiet forever.

I also realised that there was this one person that I was almost always myself with, even when I was talking. That person was my mum. That doesn’t mean that I felt fully accepted by her; no, I really wasn’t, on a lot of levels. She was a very loving person, but on her own terms. She also used to ask me over and over ‘but what is Asperger’s? I don’t understand’ and I’d just say ‘Asperger’s is what I have. You always wanted me to be different, so here you are, all those behaviours you don’t like are because I have Asperger’s’. Asperger’s seems to be the term that people still use in Poland so I kept it while speaking with mum.

So what I am trying to say here is that even though I was aware my mum wanted me to be different, it didn’t prevent me from being myself around her. I am unable to say what it was that allowed that, possibly the fact that we knew each other for a long time? Possibly because I knew how she could react? I am not sure really. Mum often was the recipient of me being a bit too blunt and she didn’t like it, but I’d be too tired to try to be nicer, even if I knew that I wouldn’t like if someone was as blunt with me.

So I don’t really know, it seems like being totally myself is technically possible for me, even in the presence of another person. But is that something that I should be aiming for is another thing altogether.

2 responses to “A few more words about unmasking”

  1. Of course, only you can decide how much unmasking is good for you, and/or possible. In my experience, it has been hugely beneficial to figure out where my actual abilities are and aren’t. What works for me, and what doesn’t. What I’m confortable with, and when. Society has become more accepting about the fluctuating nature of functioning levels/capabilities with regards to invisible disabilities lately, which has helped me a lot. I have had to err on the side of caution many times in the last couple of decades, and not let on that I was technically capable of this or that in certain situations, because then the expectations that I be able to do it all the time, no matter the situation was far far too much. The black and white nature of people’s stereotypes and expectations meant that in order for life to be tolerable for me, and for me to meet any of the expectations that I be an independent adult, I had to say ‚in this stressful situation I cannot do this’ and find another way to accomplish the same thing (e.g. use AAC with strangers, or in classroom presentations, or get assistance from my professors in navigating classroom discussions; have a support person handle phone calls with medical professionals, or other service providers, etc.)
    Having had prolonged periods of time where the pressure was taken off, and support stsrategies were put in place, has allowed me, years later, to experiment with expanding my abilities in areas I previously wasn’t comfortable or willing to. And many of those experiments have been successful, or partially so. Others haven’t, but I’m discovering that many thigns I previously thought were too much, or unreasonable expectations, aren’t as much any more. And of course, I’m also rediscovering that expectations of myself still need to change depending on how stressed or tired I am at any given point.

    Liked by 1 person

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