UNMASKED: Snippets & notes from a lifetime collection of journals (pre-diagnosis).
Advocating for autistic acceptance.
August 6, 1994
Well, this entry is certainly a smörgåsbord of undiagnosed autistic traits!
Masking. Anxiety. Reliance on alcohol in social situations. Scripting/hypervigilance of my tone and physicality. Situational mutism.
The overarching theme is a deep deep desire to be seen, hear, understood, and still loved. The theme of a lifetime.
Do any of your lives follow a similar theme? Please know: I am here to see, hear, understand, and love you. I love you neurokin. ❤️❤️❤️
For many autistic people, masking becomes so second nature that we see it as an innate part of our personalities. It is, however, a trauma response.
While I am introverted, I am also very straightforward. In other words, the unmasked me says exactly what I am thinking and feeling. Unfortunately, this has almost always backfired on me. Allistic people assign subtext to that bluntness and deeply misunderstand what I am saying. They struggle to hear my words without adding extra meaning.
Something as simple as, I prefer wearing baggy clothes could be misinterpreted as I think your clothes are too tight. It truly flummoxes me and I still spend way too much energy analyzing every word before it comes out my mouth (though I have gotten better at not giving that anxiety space and at not spending too much time with the people who expect me to change myself for their comfort).
My directness is not something I can modify. It just exists as it is. Even while masking, it can surface because it is just the natural me expressing myself naturally.
Still, masking is a way to self-protect. It allows me to engage, listen, and express compassion (these are all genuine ways I relate to others) without exposing my own vulnerabilities except to the few people who understand/believe my autistic communication.
Masking can leave us so lonely. In the journal entry, you can see how hungry I was for someone to truly see me. And to still love me. For a short while, N did, until it backfired again.
As a brown, queer, disabled, autistic human, it is not safe for me to unmask. Doing so can literally be life-threatening. The difference is that now I know when I am doing it and why. I am doing it to take care of the Little Kalpita inside of me, the one who for so long was denied agency, attention, and love. The Little Kalpita who was told she was too much and unworthy.
I do not condemn anyone who continues to mask. But please do so with self-awareness and intention. That way, when you are safe, you can take the mask off and give the unmasked you space to breathe and be loved. Because the unmasked you is worthy of love, including self-love. ❤️