Masking- a Neurodivergence tale

I removed the mask!

Masking is something nuerodivergent individuals do when they are around others. They learn from very early on that they themselves, or as themselves are not ok. So, they end up learning to hide behind a mask of behaviors to help those around them feel safer. Everyone in my family masked. So when we were out in public we were one way, and at home very different. My home life was traumatic in its own way. Knowing that we were to be the “perfect christian family” when out and about made me learn a very specific sort of behaviors to mask behind.

  • Please those around you so that they feel comfortable
  • Over give so that others will find you worthy
  • Don’t say or do weird shit (This was pretty much everything I did and said, so I learned to mimic others very early on)
  • Don’t be rude! (This was another very confusing concept because everything could be considered rude. I have also passed this phrase onto my children.)
  • Be nice. This is different than the above mentioned. It is often making sure that I am doing things that would once again make others feel good at the expense of my own desires.

Traveling the country helped me extensively shift into a space of being. Being space is a place of being fully present while not masking. I have practiced being in this space for over 8 years.

Yet, I didn’t fully realize how easily I slip into masking when I leave the comfort of my own house!!

In what ways do you mask?

I share with you how this all started. I have been vending each weekend for the past 5 weeks and was particularly tired after spending 2 nights away from home, one night sleeping in the truck with both kids, the next in a hotel room with smells, lights and sounds that definitely interfered with my sleep. Then I drove the 3 hours home to arrive after dark. The next 2 days were spent unloading, tending to the chickens, I had a womb healing session, and just dealing with overly tired kids. Then it was the day for our wild + free group, a nature group for homeschool families. I was tired. I was only going so Skyann could see her friend, and I knew I was just not in the mood for catering to anyone. But I went anyway.

The women, one in particular, noticed right away that I was “off.” I was not my usually bubbly self. I just looked for rocks, played with the toddler that was there and tried to keep to myself. A discussion arouse around a women who helped social workers for her job, and one of the women can get very opinionated and loud. I immediately put the mask back on to sooth over the conversation. And it was at that point that I could feel the shift in my being. I could sense that I was masking again. It was pulling my energy more than I wanted. So I just stopped talking, and returned to finding rocks. It was amazing how the difference in my body felt. I could feel myself contorting to make others more comfortable!

The next day we went to an auction all day, then I had an event the following day. We have spent the last 2 days getting all the remaining stuff from the auction. When I have so much physical work to do, I can remove the mask. I can buckle down and keep present. Yet, so much of my energy I realize goes into making others comfortable. Even at the auction I was aware of my masking. This is something that is somewhat new to me. I knew I masked but to see it so clearly has been incredible. I will now get to choose IF I WANT TO mask, rather than my programing doing it for me regardless of my desire.


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