• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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Why are we still wearing masks?

Does anyone remember why I began writing?  Do I?

I began writing to connect with people in a real and honest way, and to find those who were like myself (although I didn’t know it at the time).  First, I wrote for me.  I wrote about what I was learning about myself during my early days of discovery and diagnosis.  I wrote when no one was listening.  But what happened?

I’ve been contemplating lately what has been going on with me.  Why I write less, post less, and sometimes nothing at all for months on end—or longer.  Do I have nothing to say?

I no longer share when I struggle (I should have this figured out by now–) I no longer share when I am sad, or upset, or frustrated—adhering desperately to the old adage if you have nothing nice/good/positive/powerful/helpful to say, then don’t say anything.  So, as I stress, as I struggle, as I am continually overwhelmed with activities of everyday day living—I say nothing.  And, I am sorry.

Thinking on this issue a lot lately made me realize that when I am at a loss for something constructive, positive, enlightening, or educational to share, I share nothing. My work has been successful, my book—successful, and I am proud of how much I’ve accomplished.  However, with those accomplishments came a few things that I never expected.  Fear. And, pressure.

Fear that what I do next will not be as successful, and ultimately will fail.  That I won’t be good enough in another endeavor.  Fear of doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, or giving the wrong impression.

Pressure to always have answers, to always “look” like I have it all together, to please those who read my work, and not upset anyone with my words.  Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.  What have I become, and how exactly did this happen to me?  In a quest to learn about myself, to understand, and to BE myself, did I wind up putting up another façade? Could it be why I am so exhausted?  Can we be real without anonymity?  I don’t know.

How do we talk about the hard times, while trying to “look” like everything is all right—while trying to be encouraging, engaging, and insightful? Is this not just another social pressure now?  Another instance in which we need to pretend, instead of an opportunity to be ourselves?

I am struggling right now.  I am overwhelmed.  I am having an emotionally raw day for some reasons that I know and understand, and for others that I can’t quite put my finger on. But, what I do know is that this needs more discussion. I need to find more courage to write the raw truth, good, bad or indifferent, without filters, without masks. They are too heavy to wear.





Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.
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