I have read these several blog posts recently.
They pretty much hit a button with me and saddened my heart. Not because of what they wrote but because of the fact that it hurts to read these things for myself, living and reliving these feelings. It hurts to know that others feel that same pain of being misunderstood, needing to wear a mask or a different coat for each situation. It is also comforting to know that I am not alone. The holidays are painful for me, one of the reasons is because of what these blog posts touch on. Every holiday for me was an exciting time, there were many fun things about every year, there was also the other things that were very hard for me as a child, well into my adulthood. Holidays was the one time when I had to wear multiple masks, but not wear them well at all. It’s not only the holidays that I have had to live like this but the holidays, for me, was many forced social situations that tossed me back forth.
My parents being divorced caused a whole slew of situations that I did not know how to handle.
Each holiday I had to split it between my parents. I am thankful that I got to be with both of them and those times are good. It was the schedule of people that I dreaded, feared and was ridden with anxiety about. First, I would have time with my Mom’s side of the family, then there was my stepfather’s family, then I would go off with my Dad and step mom and her family as well. I had to behave one way with my Mom and my Grandparents, I had to behave another way at my stepfather’s family, another way with my Dad and step mom alone, another way with my Dad’s family and then another way with my step mom’s family, which by the way I never felt welcomed and dreaded going. It wasn’t that some of them didn’t try to make me feel welcomed, some of them did, but I just had this feeling that I cannot explain or articulate that I was a burden or something. Their entire family is very confusing to me and a lot of what they do and say I find incredibly hurtful, they would not understand this and it has nothing to with them really, I just don’t understand their humor. It scares me.
This was entirely too much for a young kid to remember or feel responsible for.
I did though, I felt like it was up to me to make sure I acted the way I was supposed to and when I couldn’t I felt like a failure. I couldn’t remember the rules. I didn’t understand the social situations. I tried very hard and over the years I eventually became someone who I did not know. I use holidays as a prime example but this whole changeling thing that I became a pro at was damaging and was a contributor to my misuse of alcohol, constant self-hatred, depression and isolation. I desperately wanted people to understand me, to know me but I didn’t even know myself. Slipping in and out of the costume for each social event became too difficult until I felt I found the answer.
My answer for some time was religion.
When I realized that religion was only another mask in which I wore, I became disillusioned with my faith and people of my faith. I haven’t lost my faith, I am just finding it for myself. If that makes any sense. My eyes were opened to the same patterns and it was damaging. I am working through that now. The mask has been ripped off and the one thing that made me face myself was the discovery of Daniel being labeled as having Asperger’s. I wrote some of my feelings in this post Autism a Scary Word. When I wrote that I was discovering a mask that I had been wearing and I ripped it off. I am in a constant state of self discovery. I have tried very hard to just be natural. It is difficult because when I do, I remember the repercussions from the past. I remember the hurt and confusion, the anger and inability to control my temper at the injustice.
The difference now is that I am beginning to step outside of myself when I fall into a mask, more often.
I feel it happening and I stop myself. I either get out of the situation because it will be too confusing or hurtful or I proceed with pulling off the mask. I no longer have coping mechanisms to help me keep the masks. I cannot pretend to be normal and function properly. The only way I was able to before was through means of reliance on substances, using God in an addictive way or escaping through false realities. I just can’t go back. I took the red pill and can’t go back. Now I am on a journey to live according to others rules while not going against my own. It is a difficult task. I am discovering that I don’t have to live by their rules. If people get insulted, it is their responsibility to tell me so. If they feel like I have hurt them, they should respect me enough to ask me what I meant. If they are my loved ones, then they should know where I am coming from. I make it pretty clear.
There are still times when I just automatically slip into character.
I will not realize it until after the fact, I was getting upset at myself for this but what I realized is that I am just protecting myself. It takes a lot to undo so many years and layers of what and who I thought I was. I had mountains of words spoken to me, defining me but I never defined myself. I took everyone else’s words for who I was. I assumed they knew better than I did, after all I was too confused to know any different. Those words have had to be combated, beaten down, in some cases destroyed. I have become a new mold of clay searching for each real piece of who I am. Rebuilding and dismantling all the way to finding freedom. I may sound cliché’ but this is the truth of how I feel.
The more I read the more I understand myself and others.
I am so thankful that through this journey of rebuilding I am able to read about other people who have had similar situations, feelings, and are finding themselves as well. There has been this lie that we are not supposed to be ourselves but the conflicting slogans that hit us daily in the world tell us “Be yourself” but when you are yourself you get attacked, ridiculed, ostracized and bullied into not being the real you. I think the more we all talk, the more we all write, the more we all expose these feelings the stronger we get and the more confident we become to truly just ripping off the coats, the masks, the layers and running around comfortable in whatever we want to wear or what we are actually supposed to wear.
Or maybe wearing nothing at all…….