Oh, Vivian, I relate to so much in your reply! I think maybe my family was trying to correct my Autism without realizing it, when I was young. My mom’s side of the family is pretty much all on the spectrum I believe, and my dad was always confounded by how they (and I) are so “icy” and unemotional. So I’d get a lot of judgement and correction for not being open and vulnerable. I’d get haranged into opening up. But then if I actually did break down and cry, I’d get criticized for that too… by both my dad, who found my melt downs frustrating and annoying and immature, and by my mom, who saw any expression of negative emotion as breaking face in a way.

I think in a way my mom’s family became the kind of emotionally distant, fake-smiling polite midwesterners that they did in part because of masking. They couldn’t be gregarious, they couldn’t be open and vulnerable, they didn’t know how to connect with people, and so they created a group facade of like, restrained politeness. I’ve tried to not be like them, but I still catch myself parroting them all the time. They could only ever talk about difficult things using sarcasm, and even then, only briefly. They freeze up when people are upset. I do that too. I want to be more open but it’s hard. When you don’t even know how to mask neurotypicality correctly, your only option becomes putting up walls and inhibiting everything.

It’s horrible how people can try to ‘help’ us by giving us advice that amounts to further shaming of how we innately are. I’m sure your friend thought they were helping you out, but they taught you that one of your best ways of genuinely connecting (infodumping) was unacceptable, and would drive people away. It really puts us in a total double bind. It’s hellish to be so trapped in layers upon layers of self-censorship…

I hope we do get to meet in person some day! I would love to be bathed in all the Celeste and Hollow Knight facts you’ve got!

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