Today we are going to look at something I struggle with as a Neurodivergent person, it is something that for the most part I am not aware that I do, but I have been made aware of it from time to time. Why is that that everyone gets a different version? Sometimes we present a different version of ourselves to people who we interact with, either at work or even in a social setting. Some of us do it for cultural reason, religious reasons, and some even for masking.
What is masking? Masking is a process by which an individual changes or “masks” their natural personality to conform to social pressures, abuse or harassment. Masking can be strongly influenced by environmental factors such as authoritarian parents, rejection, and emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
I masked for years! This is part of my story about what I have gone through as a person who masked and is still trying to fully break free from it.
*Trigger Warning: Before you consider reading on further, there is mention of abuse and suicidal thoughts*
I have for a long time masked certain things about myself to appease certain people in my life around me, either at work, school or at home it was a constant struggle to keep some of my quirks or somethings about myself hidden from others. Hiding in both the broom closet and closet all together. I hid things and masked others for fear of judgement, “damnation”, being ostracized, bullying, abandonment, and abuse.
It was not until I was raising children of my own and they were coming of age that I realized I need to start living my truth and not hiding any more. I was now in a relationship and place in my life that I could authentically be who I am without consequences or any of the past fears that had plagued me in the past. Sure there would still be some quiet judgements & talk of being a sinner…. but as I grew as a person those things bothered me less and less.
I began to explore things more, different ways of living and of spirituality that had long peaked my interests but I had always been told were WRONG.
**Let me say this before I continue. There is not right or wrong way for someone to connect to their inner self, to their soul, or to their spirituality. We are not to judge on what is the correct way to walk through life in this manner. I do not judge nor do I push my views on anyone. I am always up for discussions and hearing other people’s points of view. **
The first mask I let go of was my hiding who I am with my spiritual self.
Now with that being said, I started on my journey with self discovery & learned about Deism, it really got my mind interested and really made me question everything I had ever heard or been taught before. As I learned more, I learned there were also different types of Deism, so many in fact the possibilities were endless for those who were interested in learning more. If you are a new reader I will give you a brief overview about what Deism is, belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind.
It is not a religion, it is a philosophy a way of thinking and looking at life through science and knowledge, nature is the church in which all science worships. And this brings me to where I am today, I am at the intersection between science and magic. For what is magic but science we have yet to understand.
And while I am still on the fence about how many gods or goddesses actually intervene or interact with us, I have been made aware that there are some who do, however subtle OR loud they may be. I have had guides come to me both in waking states and in my sleep to let me know I am not alone, that I am not crazy, that this is the path for me. Guides of my spirit and of my ancestors. I have spirituality and peace within my soul for the first time in my entire life and it brings me much joy and happiness to finally be able to say that.
Once I connected with myself on that level and started to say it out loud, claiming that part of myself that I had long since denied. I was able to look inward and see other things I had been masking or hiding from the world.
My second mask was that of my sexual identity.
I was hiding my sexual identity from a very young age, I first knew I was different when I was about 8 years old. However, I was never really comfortable enough with myself or those around me to fully come out in this manner either. I hid it, though at times not very well. I tried to question it but was told it was a phase and I needed to get over it. It in fact is not a phase, I had attraction to those around me both male and female. Though I was not sexually interested in anyone until I was in my mid teenage years, and only then I had to have a deep emotional connection with that person. It was not until my adult years that I was fully about to put a precise label on it. I am a Bi-Romantic Demi-Sexual, who is happily married to a man.
I have never pursued more than one relationship at a time because my attraction to people is limited in that I have to have a deep connection with them to be attracted on a deeper level. I was often called a prude or picky as a teenager, I dated a lot but never intimate with anyone, which also caused a lot of breakups. I could not for the life of me understand what was wrong with that. But once I did find someone I connected with I could often be hypersexual with that person… It was all so confusing. I hid it for YEARS! I was always told the only correct relationship was between a man and a woman, anything else was a sin and punishable. So I masked my personal life with dating only men and to all outward appearances I was straight woman.
I fell in love with a woman and with a man, but I only ever told the man. I eventually married him and had children with him. I often hid my desires from him and he hid his as well. We did not grow up together, nor did we grow as a couple. We ended up with a very toxic relationship with one another. We were married for almost 16 years– however we were not together for all of that. I left when things began to fall apart rapidly at the seams, not only physically but mentally, for us both.
I ended things with him and found someone else, I was not actually looking for an active long term relationship at the time but I ended up finding my person in my husband now. Had it been a woman I would have gladly accepted that as well but my person is a man, that in no way diminishes the fact that I am still Bi, no it just means I have chosen my person not a side. I still am very much interested in women but I do not desire another relationship with someone else at this point in my life.
When I finally had the courage to come out to my kids they were very accepting about it, and they had their own stories to share. I will not share those with you all as those are not my stories to tell.
So what else was I hiding, what else was I masking? Well those are all my Neurodivergent traits!
I cannot tell you how long I had to appear normal for people to like me or accept me. All through my school years I had very few friends because once I did open up and stop hiding things from people I was told I was weird, odd, too loud, and at times gross. I also hid intrusive thoughts, self harm , and deep depression.
I am ADHD, Dyslexic, and OCD, I have quite a bit that I used to hid from people. From hair pulling, skin picking, vocal tics, movement tics, not being able to sit still, talking too loud, no filter, cutting, verbal outbursts you name it I have probably had some form of it that I have hidden over the years. Much of it was hidden for fear or rejection, punishment, isolation and some actually came about to mask abuse.
I had so much to hide, so much to mask as a child and young adult it would often lead my OCD to push intrusive thoughts. Some of which were hard to deal with and I have never really spoken about to anyone but one person. There was so much that needed to come out, so much that was hiding underneath my surface that I myself many times had self harm and suicidal tendencies. I attempted a couple of times at age 14, and never told anyone about it until I was an adult.
These OCD thoughts would come and go, only to reappear in the early stages of my first marriage and with my first pregnancy, these would continue until the birth of my 3rd child and I ended the relationship with their father. It was in those moments my masking really took a toil on me.
I was not sure I was going to make it our of my first marriage alive there for a while to be honest. It scared me and those around me, I was not the same person they knew, nor would I ever be the same again. But now as that has been put in the past, as I have grown as a person I can talk about things more freely and see what it was that was killing me… It was all the hiding, and the masking to make others around me happy, it was tearing me apart as an individual.
I lost myself for sometime after this. I tired to be what people around me wanted to be. The good little mother, the good little Christian, I worked at it for years. I struggled, I battled, and was still so unhappy. Why? Because I was still masking who I was. I was still hiding in plain sight. No one, not even I, knew who the real me was.
But you know something, I would not change anything I went through, as it all has made me who I am today. Every tragic moment, every bump in the road, ever laugh, wound, happy moment… ALL OF IT. Even with all the masking, hiding and denying myself of who I really am…. I would not change a single event from then. There were some good moments, do not get me wrong. There were some happy times and there was love, but in it all I was never free to be 100% who I am. Which made it all very bittersweet.
We have to learn from our past, grow, and heal from it to be able to move forward. Many of us are able to do so, while others still struggle to find some peace in their lives still masking, still hiding who they are, some out of fear and some out of pure survival instinct.
You may know someone who struggles with masking, or you may know someone who masks so well you don’t ever see the signs they are hiding themselves away from the world. We should never jump to judgement when we see someone who is different than we are, we should never be the reason that someone feels they need to hide behind a mask just to appeal to our senses.
There is always so much pressure to appear normal, to be normal, when the truth of the matter is NO ONE IS NORMAL. Sure we have neurotypicals and they appear to be the standard of what is perceived as normal, however, I can almost bet you they mask certain things about themselves they don’t want others to know about. They mask their sexualities and their religious views to appear to be what others want them to be and it should not be that way.
If we do not strive to break free from ourselves, and the masks we wear, if we do not make an effort to make a change and break free from our generational curses, nothing will ever change for the better.
As we grow older, we can see some of the things we were taught as a child do not hold true as an adult. They do not fit, or even make sense for us as individuals. That is just part of growing up, and some might even venture to say growing wiser. We can only hope that this is the case.
Our society is changing and some say for the worse while others like myself say for the better in some aspects. We are moving the world to a society that accepts more of us for who we are than ever before. Sure there are still places that do not, but we as a whole are changing. We are growing, we are moving forward in the right direction of change.
Embrace yourself my darlings, embrace the change, embrace one another and take off your masks.
I have laid all of mine out for you and taken them off, leaving myself exposed and raw for the world to see. I am in a place in my life where I can do so and I hope that one day you will be able to as well. I do not cling to my past self, for that is a version of me I do not connect with any longer. One day you will get here, one day you will be able to say the same.
Until then, I send you all ~Much love to each and every one of you!