Topic: What do I do now? What does this mean?

English Alexithymia Forum > Personal Experience

What do I do now? What does this mean?
17.09.2021 by User87c4cC87

Hi! this is a rhetorical question, and you don't even have to read it all I'm just ranting.

I've always had trouble understanding my emotions. When I was a kid my mum would explain my emotions to me and try to rationalize them for me. In middle school I didn't really have friends, and then in highschool I had one good friend who I frequently asked questions like "what does it mean to have a crush" etc, followed by an onslaught of friends, followed by self esteem issues and burnout.

In highschool I started doing things to fit in. I read fewer books and did all the things I thought would help me fit in. My mum taught me how to make friends (ask people questions and let them talk, give them compliments, etc.) And I absorbed the personality of this other kid I started talking to. Now I finally had the friends I wanted throughout my childhood. I did all the things my mum taught me and learnt more about social interaction, mirrored the speech and behavior of other kids I met. Soon I started getting paranoid. Every day became a performance and everyone I met a possible critic. This paranoia spread into even my closest relationships. By now people had started dating. All foundation of all the social and emotional scripts I had learnt was torn down and replaced with hormones and teenagers who were feeling and recognizing emotions I couldn't begin to. It didn't help that all my attempts at romance failed horribly. I asked out a guy at random and did everything I was supposed to, then I felt physically revolted and out of control after the first date. I tried this with three guys, it was the same everytime. I figured I might be gay so I tried dating girls but they would expect too much emotionally and I ran away again (twice). [Update I "came out" to people so that also came with it's own trauma, mom was disgusted with me blah blah]. Anyway dating wasn't for me, figures. But I had to date right? People kept telling me I would find someone, they must have a reason. I didn't understand people anymore I didn't know what they wanted, and I had to so they would like me. I couldn't be alone again. I kept pleasing people, obsessing over my own image, what I said, how people perceived me, till I graduated and lockdown happened, and my mental health hit an all time low. I was burnt out emotionally and socially and I cut off all contact with friends and spent most of my time in my room. Slowly I worked on my mental health, I analyzed and analyzed and analyzed myself till I could analyze no more and it got better.

Now I've realised I might be autistic and have alexithmia and have been mking up by masking in social situations. But now that I've come to these realizations I've hit a wall. Where do I go from here? What do I do? Have I become the mask? I started masking so much that it had spread to things I used to like, hobbies and interests. I couldn't do anything anymore but perform. I have lived for other people's approval for so many years. How do I figure out what I want now? How do I stop craving other peoples' approval? How do I stop feeling selfish? How do I stop feeling ashamed for not feeling emotions the way other people do?

18.09.2021 by Alexej

HI User87c4cC87

I hate these names (like User87c4cC87)
It took me a while to work our how you can change them to something nicer and easier to remember.

However, rant over and back to your post.
People with autism do mask to a greater or lesser extent, and so do a lot of other folk.

To know who you are behind the mask is a good question and one that is worth spending some time working on. I wish you well in this quest, for it may take quite a while.

I love this quote If I never become what I am meant to be, but always remain what I am not, I shall spend eternity contradicting myself, by being at once something and nothing, a life that wants to live and is dead and cannot quite achieve its own death because it still has to exist.

However, realising that you are not your mask and the the real you is hiding is a big step forwards. Well done

21.10.2021 by Lee1255

Hi User 87c4cC87,

Thank you for posting. I am older than you, but am new to understanding that alexithymia certainly, and possibly autism are at the root of social difficulties I experience and have experienced, much like what you describe.

I have little in the way of answers, but I want you to know your post has been helpful to me and will no doubt be helpful to others experiencing similar conditions. Good luck to us!