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Trying to take the mask off

Discussion in 'Help and Support' started by GeminiSagittarius, Dec 11, 2019.

  1. GeminiSagittarius

    GeminiSagittarius Member

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    I’m masking my whole life and I have no clue how to safely unmask.
    Not just about masking my autistic traits, but also my personality in the process.
    How can I find out what is really me and what is copied from others?

    Has anyone some experience with the unmasking process and has some advice?
    I would be so happy about that! :)
     
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  2. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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  3. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    In my experience this is a slow process of revelations and some puzzles and confusion too. It's quite hard to work out what's the real person who is under the masks, and maybe actually that's because developmentally, letting go of masking entails a further process of development?

    Take your time, and you will notice yourself appearing. Some useful threads here, @tree has provided.
     
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  4. GeminiSagittarius

    GeminiSagittarius Member

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    Thank you for the replies!

    Sounds very interesting!
    I have no clue how to start and find out. What to do first and stuff like that.

    Yeah that makes sense, thanks for the advice! :)

    Great, checking the thread! Thanks! :)
     
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  5. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    To me, this is a "loaded question", given the way you phrased it. IMO to "safely unmask" in most cases will be dependent on the company you keep. With particular relevance to whether or not they know you are on the spectrum.

    From there, consider these three things whenever contemplating telling much of anyone that you're autistic:

    1) There are a very few who want to understand and succeed in doing so.
    2) There are more who want to understand, but will fail in attempting.
    3) Most people will default to an expectation or demand that you conform to how the social majority thinks.

    To understand that even those you perceive as being close to you may or may not understand. So it amounts to "risky business". I'm not saying don't do it. But I am saying, "proceed with caution".

    Even with my closest relatives, in my own case I have found that I must still mask my traits and behaviors to some extent. In most cases people just don't seem prepared- or willing to deal with me as who and what I really am. That it all comes down to the individual in terms of their choice and ability to understand- and tolerate someone who they may find to be profoundly different on various levels when socializing.
     
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  6. GeminiSagittarius

    GeminiSagittarius Member

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    Thank you! :)

    Yeah, it might be confusing to find out who falls in which of the 3 categories. I’ll proceed with caution.

    Not sure who I’m going to tell that I’m autistic yet and how I’m going to act in which situations yet. Hopefully I’m going to find out soon.

    I really want to connect with people, but not be so exhausted by it all the time. I have mental health issues and I think part of it comes from masking all these years. Struggling to see my real identity and personality fully.

    Trying to find out what is the real me and what is the mask. How to feel the difference, how to start. Like a guide that can’t go wrong.

    I’m afraid that in trying to find my real self, I create another mask :(:eek:
     
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  7. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    For me it's pretty hard not to know when I'm masking. It's a process that is emotionally and physically draining for me. Where even if everything goes well enough in a social sense, I'll still be exhausted when I get home and close the front door to the outside world.

    When you can understand those in your social orbit in terms of how much you do or don't need to mask, then you can begin a process of pulling back. Assuming of course that such people are able to tolerate your autistic traits and behaviors. In the end, tolerance is more of a goal than understanding. After all, autism isn't a simple neurological issue just anyone can understand in whole or in part.

    Sadly in my case, for the very few people I occasionally socialize with, removing the mask entirely just isn't an option. But who knows? There me be some of you who have some great people in your personal orbit that will be more understanding than others. You never know...
     
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  8. SolarPoweredNightOwl

    SolarPoweredNightOwl Walking contradiction

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    I self-diagnosed less than a year ago, so I'm on a similar journey. I will say that masking contributes heavily to mental health issues, and to our sky-high suicide rate. I don't have great advice at finding the real self, but I've been approaching it by asking myself:

    1. Who are you when you are exhausted? (Masking takes energy, lots of it.)
    2. What do you do, think, and feel when left to your own devices, without outside pressures? (Social expectations, relationships, maintaining a job to live, etc)

    I'm self-diagnosed, I'm still masked, don't take this as medical advice, blah blah. Question 2 is pretty useless since as adults, we're pretty much always under some kind of pressure. But it's all I've got to go off of.
     
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  9. OrangeSquash

    OrangeSquash Active Member

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    Since 'coming out', I've tried to unmask to varying degrees of success around my family and friends. I don't think i'll ever feel that I am 100% unmasked around anybody - I guess one finds ones groove with life etc. All I could suggest is to choose a someones to talk to about this who knows you well, and make it a gradual process. Good luck!
     
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  10. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member

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    Also, keep in mind there is no "safe way" to unmask.
    We want to avoid living a life of paranoia.
    Do it slowly, but take risks as they come to you or when you feel you need to.
    Do it in small spurts, and if bad stuff happens, try to deal with the situation.
    That is the best way to balance and live the best quality social life that you can.

    It's good to be cautious, but it's good to take risks too (if the risks are gradual, that is okay.)
    Everyone is different and there is no one right or wrong answer.
     
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  11. GeminiSagittarius

    GeminiSagittarius Member

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    Thank you all for the helpful replies! :)

    Yeah, I don’t really know all the time when I’m masking too.
    I masked a lot, not just my autistic traits, but also my personality, who I am.
    Tough to find out what is really me and what not and how to make sense out of it all and feel it correctly.

    I think it’s the best start for me to pay attention when or if I’m masking around my husband, because he wouldn’t have any problem with my unmasked self.

    Hoping I can see through my own masquerade and knowing when I’m pretending or not.
    Couldn’t really develope my own self, because of problems in my past. I wasn’t allowed to be me in every sense and I really wanted to be loved and accepted so I started masking and acting right from the start.

    Socializing is really draining to me, especially small talk. I have a script in my head and when I said everything I’m just standing there awkwardly and panicking inside “Oh noo, what should I say next?”

    It would be so relaxing to just let go of the mask, or at least to some degree of it. I try to take some risks when it feels right.
    Wondering what happens.
     
  12. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member

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    Don't worry about if you don't know when you're masking. Just don't try to do it all the time.
     
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  13. GeminiSagittarius

    GeminiSagittarius Member

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    Thanks! :)

    I’ll try, I just really want to find out more about my real self, real personality that’s suppressed and embrace it.
     
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  14. GeminiSagittarius

    GeminiSagittarius Member

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    I found these videos very helpful:



    1. Am I Masking? 30 Autistic Masking Questions Quiz - Find out if you are masking now?

    And the 4 part series:
    Who Am I Behind The Mask? A 4 Video Series and Step By Step Journey to Personal Discovery

    Very good videos about finding out who you are, what your core values are in comparison to the values that our environment and society pressured us to hold, what we need, personal boundaries, how to stop masking in a healthy way and why it is so important and other very good and important stuff.
     
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  15. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It's what prompts your masking that really counts. To understand what it is that forces you to accommodate others. In other words, being mindful of potential consequences.

    Simple point. If you believe or know there are no social consequences for dropping that mask, give it a whirl.

    Me? I'm acutely aware of those consequences. But then in my own case, any serious social interactions happen within a very tight social orbit of mine, involving only two relatives. Where between the two of them, I know that I must inevitably mask my traits and behaviors. More so with my cousin than with my brother.

    Yet I don't really give it much thought. It just happens. But then over so many years one becomes quite mindful of those potential consequences. Though with complete strangers, I can be quite indifferent about it all. If and when my Neurodiversity conflicts with them in some way, too bad!

    Go figure. :oops:
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2019
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  16. GeminiSagittarius

    GeminiSagittarius Member

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    Thanks! :)

    Yeah, I try to be much more mindful of what tempts me to mask and why.
    But I’m mindful of consequences too, so I can unmask in a healthy way, without coming off rude.
    Trying to surround my personal space only with people who accept me for who I am, but of course there are situations where it’s much harder, like in workplaces.

    Starting to unmask in the consequence-free situations first is a great idea!
    I’ll go figure! :):grinning:
     
  17. Varzar

    Varzar Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I came to these forums to unmask... I'm new here still, so whether or not this is a safe place to do so has yet to be determined. So far it has been ok though...

    In my real life I don't feel like I can "safely" unmask. My viewpoints (which are general based on a strict code of rationality and logic) are far too "outside the norm" for most NTs not to react with all kinds of negative emotion.
    Even with my wife of 20 years I haven't unmasked except occasionally unintentionally... Since my self-diagnosis however, I have slowly started to unmask more with her, because she now has a significantly greater understanding.. Basically, she no longer tries to frame my thoughts with an NT viewpoint.
    I still would not consider it safe to unmask with most people...
     
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  18. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It's a great way to let off your own tension, knowing when you can exercise such indifference.

    When I'm by myself out shopping, I'm liable to say virtually nothing to much of anyone. Whether it appears rude at times or not, it doesn't bother me with complete strangers I'm not apt to see again anyways. Though at times I get those proverbial comments like, "What's his problem? Why doesn't he say anything?"

    Selective muteness has its advantages and often at no cost. :cool:
     
  19. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member

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    There can always be consequences. Expect them, but try to figure out how to deal with those situations. Preparing can help ease yourself. Understanding and realizing that not everything will be in your control or anyone's control helps. You might not figure out all the angles, and that's okay. That's unpredictable too. It helps me to prepare for scenarios that bother me that I am unaware of, but try to come up with and iron out. Ask friends for advice an online forums about particular situations. Then compare and YOU make the final decision on what you think works best for you.

    If you unintentionally UNmask, then that's not a big deal either. It is just what happened. Unmasking here and there and being (a bit) vulnerable is how you try to can really, truly connect with people. Try to pick 1-1 contexts only to do so.
     
  20. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    "You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen, — the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives, — I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.”

    Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.

    And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”

    Thus I became a madman.

    And I have found both freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.

    But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief
    ."

    Beloved Poet and Philosopher Kahlil Gibran on the Seeming Self vs. the Authentic Self and the Liberating Madness of Casting Our Masks Aside
     
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