To Feel Like the REAL You does it only require removing a mask? Unmasking isn't the whole solution is it?
To feel like the REAL you, does it only require removing a mask?
Burnouts are most often caused due to all the energy that you expend keeping the right mask on for the right situation. It is exhausting and often leads to feelings of disconnect, isolation and not feeling like anyone really knows you or understands you.
You may be on a mission to unmask right now and you are slowly lowering your guard and experimenting with showing up in the world as the real you. It feels freeing and exciting to stim or to not make eye contact every second of a conversation with someone. In those small moments where you are letting your mask down you feel that sense of reclaiming yourself and your place in the world. But you are only uncovering what is a big, glaring difference in your current awareness that is in contrast to the mask you have been wearing.
Unmasking, as a late identified autistic, is only one component in aligning your external and internal worlds. More often than not, when you have gone for decades masking to fit in, to feel safe in a world that just doesn’t make sense, those masks become a subconscious automation. You may even catch yourself masking when you are alone.
As you begin to remove the masks a little at a time, you start with the small things, the little pieces of you that the masks have been covering up. That helps, but it doesn’t solve the larger question that arises, “Who am I without the Mask?” I learned about masking and thought, “Oh, great all I have to do is stop masking and just be me!! This is my solution. I can just stop masking and I will feel like me again. I will reclaim my true self. I will stop feeling like a fake and an imposter in the world.”
But that didn’t happen honestly. I was left feeling more adrift and more lost than before. Maybe you are experiencing something similar?
Over the last 7, almost 8 years of my late identified, autism journey, I have developed the process to answer that question, “Who am I under the mask?” and it isn’t just unmasking. When you remove the mask the implication is that you are revealing the REAL and AUTHENTIC YOU underneath, this may be true for most of the world, but after decades of masking as autistics, we have often covered up our authentic selves for so long we have pushed US down and silenced our true selves out of protection that we don’t remember who we are any more or how to get us back.
You are already inside of you BUT the you that is beginning to slowly emerge has been covered up and pushed down, sometimes so deep, that you aren’t sure how to get back to the you that has been there all along or how to begin peeling back the layers to uncover the authentic, you.
UnVeiling is the answer, not just unmasking.