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My Wooden Death Mask

When I have been out and about or in the company of other people (other than my husband), my facial muscles feel so tense that my face feels almost like a hard mask. I've only recently realized my face is doing this - and I'm guessing this is why people think I look tense. Yesterday I noticed it in the car, and started trying to find a way to relax the muscles - I couldn't command them to relax, I started moving my face all around, moving my jaw around, that didn't help. I did find that scrunching up my eyes and grimacing was the only thing that helped! In public I can't do that, of course - I could smile to help relieve tension, but you don't want to do that to yourself for no reason in public either. But in any case, when I thought of what face I was making with that grimace - I think it may just be the facial expression that conveys my anguish, my state of being overwhelmed, frightened, embarrassed, etc - things i have felt for years but learned to mask - thus the facial mask of tension. But that tense mask really puts people off and makes social life even worse. So today I tried to just keep checking in with myself as to how I was truly feeling when I sensed the facial mask, and I started just saying in my head all of my true feelings: I'm terrified, I'm overwhelmed, I don't want to go to work, I don't want to grow up, I don't want to be responsible, I don't want to be responsible for anything, I want to do what I want, when I want, etc. Doing that seemed to help! In the past, I think I would ignore those feelings or just try to combat them with the opposite:"I need to be strong, I need to do this, this will be good for me, etc." I thought that would be good for me and enable me to get through things - maybe that did get me through, but at a cost - the cost of repressing everything else, and yielding tension, burnout, the wooden death mask. I never did try proper positive self-talk, "I can do this! I am confident!", etc. because they all felt like lies - that helps NTs, apparently, but I felt it would just cause more confusion/anxiety for me.

Recently I did something I didn't think was possible - I produced a feeling within me. The feeling of confidence. It wasn't based on anything (that was one major issue with confidence for me - it had to be based on something!). Well, I managed to create that feeling without any basis on anything, and asked myself if I could learn to think that at bottom, I must always expect to maintain the feeling of confidence and happiness (unless if there were some kind of tragedy, of course) - but to choose to cultivate those feelings, regardless o the situation. I think it's do-able. I think it's just another skill set that I haven't developed. I think that a core sense/feeling of self-confidence, self-respect, and happiness would help me a lot at work. I've been thinking and feeling so many new things since learning about being an Aspie that it's hard to keep up with it all. I do want to work on cultivating self-confidence and self-respect as non-negotiables.


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