I’m having all the confused feels today. From “what do you mean just be yourself – who even is that?”, to “why do I feel I need a complete body and personality overhaul to feel attractive?”.
I don’t know whether this is a feature of the autism I may or may not have, or my extreme introvertedness and the way I’ve learnt to cope with it, but whenever I talk to anyone, I automatically put on a mask. The “Concerned Mother”, the “Dutiful Daughter”, the “Earnest but Witty Friend”.
Even when I talk with psychologists I have a mask on – the “Compliant and Wanting to Get Better Patient”.
I don’t know when I’m ever myself. Maybe with my kids? Maybe I was with my ex? And I don’t actually know what being myself looks like. What does my true self look like when she interacts with other people?
I don’t think I know how to be with others without a mask.
People will say that I am overthinking this, that I should just be, but to me “just being” involves putting on a mask. It’s automatic. I don’t think about it. My brain knows who it needs to be in any given situation and the mask pops up.
Maybe if I was me without a mask, I would never speak? I hate talking to people. Maybe I would never see anyone? Never go anywhere?
My life is a constant effort to push myself outside my comfort zone. Living with depression means that just about everything I do is an effort. I am constantly making believe – that I am OK, that I am productive, that I am capable, that I can look after my children.
If I could truly be me, would I stay in bed for weeks, maybe forever, and never speak to anyone? A stay in a psych hospital sounds divine.
Those who write about autism in women talk about this exhaustion that autistic women experience as a result of constant masking. I can definitely identify with that. Add depression to this, or perhaps as a result of this, and it’s no wonder that I’m constantly tired.
So, basically, when someone tells me to “just be myself” when I talk to someone new (let’s say a man), I honestly don’t know what that looks like. I’ve trained myself to be polite and interested and to laugh at their jokes. How do I shed that mask? How do I even know what I’m really thinking? I’m so good at hiding my own feelings from myself, my mind goes completely blank in these situations and just runs a pre-recorded track.
I need a lesson in being myself.
The second part of my identity crisis relates to worthiness. How can I be worthy of a man, or more specifically a good looking, decent man, when I am so fat, old, boring? How do I admit to someone that Netflix is my best friend, my cats my favourite company and I crochet with the best of the nanas?
I honestly feel that I have to be a more exciting, skinny person before I can even contemplate having a relationship. I can’t change my age, but it worries me when a younger man swipes right and so I immediately question his motives. Why do I even have the age range on my profile so low?
To be honest, I am ashamed of who I am, of who I’ve become. Not that I ever was that exciting. But at least I travelled, went out fairly often and weighed a lot less. Now I have two choices, accept who I am and be loud and proud about it, or become someone else.
I don’t think I have the energy to completely change my life at this point in time. I can change small things, like starting to exercise again, but I’m not suddenly going to start going out every Friday and Saturday night or take up scuba diving. I guess I know who I am not.
A life coach-in-training I once worked with told me to write a manifesto for my life. I don’t know what I did with that. I know it included blueberry pancakes and sleeping in on weekends, but I can’t remember much else. Who is this Dorothy person and how can she accept who she is and the fact that she might be acceptable to others, even men? Can a 100 kg woman be ever acceptable to a man she is not already married to? Clearly I have issues.
I don’t know if this post is useful to anyone else, it’s just the workings of an over active brain, which I keep being told is somehow a bad thing. How can I stop overthinking if that is the brain I was born with? Maybe I should go back to Marie Kondo-ing my office, so that I can bring you a truly useful post for once.
As you were.