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Unmasking Autism: Reflections on Revisiting Trauma and Relationships

I wish I would have known unmasking meant I’d have to tear open old wounds, erasing scars I never should have had, replacing with fresh ones I never imagined would exist.



I wish I had known that I’d have to relive the pain from a new lens which, if I’m being honest is even more painful than it was initially… and I keep remembering more than before. And I don’t want to do it. I’ve already dealt with these things and packed them away… it’s not fair, whatever that even means.


But I also know I can’t dissect my trauma responses and set effective boundaries for myself when every frame of reference I have is skewed, so I have to revisit all of it; figure out my part in everything, what was mistreatment and manipulation, not friendship. None of this work matters if I can’t figure out how to stop repeating patterns of behavior that don’t serve me; if I can’t learn how to tap into my intuition and listen to my body without needing rational reason.


There were all these things I’d been led to believe were faults of mine - things to “fix” - and I approached my relationships that way because that’s “what you do”… you try to learn from experiences and apply it moving forward. But when you realize so much of that was just a result of gaslighting and abuse, and how much more of that gaslighting and abuse you endured than you even realized, it’s…. devastating.


I grieve the time I spent healing things that never existed… all the self-hatred for so many of what I now realize are autistic traits that had been used against me, used as reasons I was the problem. I grieve the apologies I’ve made for who I am and what I’ve needed to feel safe when no one else seemed to care about anything beyond themselves. I grieve the people I thought were friends; painful realities of connections that never truly existed but were carefully held together by a series of characters I played to give others what they needed. I grieve all the time spent carefully crafting those characters; all the times I thought I could fulfill my own needs through other peoples’.


And I grieve the guilt I’ve held onto for things I’ve done and said when my rational brain took a backseat to my adrenalized emotions; the lashing out without realizing why or how to reduce it; feeling so disconnected from that behavior to who I know I am at my core; internalizing the reactive abuse.


I have grieved the life I thought I’d have, and I’ve made peace with that reality but… I wasn’t expecting this layer. Beyond the grief of what I thought my life would be is grief for what it actually was. I feel so… foolish. Like everyone saw it but me, yet no one has ever truly seen me including me… until now.


I wasn’t expecting old wounds to feel so raw almost a year into this journey, and it’s taken everything in me to sit with all of this instead of dissociating or gaslighting myself into thinking I need to “get over it by now” when the reality is, I was over it except I had “it” … so wrong. and I know I have to go backward - again - to inch forward.


I’ve had to reconcile with the fact that I can’t be open with people I would have otherwise wanted to keep in my life; because not everyone who wants to stay should, you know. reconcile with the fact that there are people I’ll never reach out to again because I know they’ll only make me apologize for my brain rather than try to understand. I don’t have the energy to explain myself to people who only want me to be the character I play in their life and if that now makes me an enemy in their game, that’s fine; I’ve had to let go of that, too - that there are a lot of people who will never understand my truth.


I guess the reason I share this is, maybe someone needed to hear “healing isn’t linear” in a different way. sometimes it’s rainbows and sunshine, but sometimes it’s just the rain.


I’m not sure how to end this, so I’ll let someone else do it.


There’s this Kelly Clarkson song, Cry and I keep hearing her words:


“Is it over yet?

Can I open my eyes?

Is this as hard as it gets?

Is this what it feels like to really cry?”


…and that about sums it up.


See you for the next leg of the journey.


Stay regulated,

Shauna







2 Comments


Camille Aeterna
Camille Aeterna
Jul 22, 2023

I always feel so seen with these posts!! So many people just want me to “get over it” but I have to actually heal in order to get better. Also I love Kelly! Just added “Cry” to my sad playlist.

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Shauna
Shauna
Jul 22, 2023
Replying to

Yes, this! And I can’t heal when I didn’t know what I was healing so… here we are. I have so much Kelly on my emo mixes 😬😬❤️‍🩹❤️‍🩹

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