In which I try to be brief and honest at the same time.
Masking is about altering your behavior to be socially acceptable. This might be physical or verbal. It could be repressing a behavior or putting on a show.
Let me say that I am rarely dishonest. I don’t like it and I’m not good at it. However, long before I learned about ASD I knew I needed to “translate myself” to have any hope of avoiding misunderstandings in social interactions. Being straight forward never went well. As a test case, one time in high school I was brutally honest for a week. Nobody believed a word of it.
Writing this blog and participating in ASD support forums has made me confront the extent to which I get caught up in that process of “translation”, a verbal form of masking. It’s not just about using language deliberately to avoid misunderstanding. I basically don’t expect people to accept my “story”; the subjective expression of my experiences.
This leads to toning down or qualifying stories and expression, over-explaining, or balking altogether.
One of the positive things about the ASD support forums is people with ASD seem to have a wide variety of experiences. There’s not any one experience that is right or wrong. Although people sometimes try to negate experiences or problems they don’t relate to, which seems to be a natural psychological response. However, there are many expressions of ASD and they are all valid.
Frequently, I find it difficult to extract any dignity from my life, so it’s hard to tell these stories. In my own mind, I am fighting an epic battle for some kind of personal realization. From the outside, I suspect I look like a fool tilting at windmills. Or maybe I don’t, but I feel like I must.
There’s a basic human quest for dignity that lies somewhere in this, and the desire to be able to express yourself honestly, without getting lost in translation.