Tired of Passing – Washing Away The Alter Ego

For most of my life I’ve always been two people.

As we get ready for 2017 here is my new years resolution / goal. I want to be more authentic. I want to be more true and compassionate for myself.

I feel like it started in elementary school as some sort of survival mechanism – there was the “home me” and the “school me”. My mother would often remark how other people’s parents (and other adults) often said I was perfectly behaved while under their care. My mother complained that should be able to act polite at home too.

This character was all an act, working hard to behave in a way that others would expect. Often bullied, I was desperately trying to be like everyone else.

As I grew older, hitting puberty, I got to be that age where I thought I knew everything. Still undiagnosed, I assumed everyone around me put up the same chameleon act that I did.

Living my life more and more in the shoes of the chameleon and spending less time being authentic was damaging to my mental health. Eventually I began to loose track of who I really was. I was longing for authenticity but which person was the real me?

“School Me” became “Work Me” and now there is the “Me” who writes blogs and the me who takes care of her family. So many versions of myself – and I want to be the best one.

Chameleon Woman – blending in where ever she goes. Laity blending in has been difficult, as I push myself towards my mental limits. Certain Aspie traits have become more obvious.

I don’t want to live my life in shame.

Slowly I’m letting my alter ego go, learning her lessons as I wash her away. I want to lead an authentic life, no more fallacies, and pretending to enjoy things I hate.

It’s time to be real. It’s time for honesty. Moving forward with authenticity – embracing all my strengths and weaknesses.

 

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37 thoughts on “Tired of Passing – Washing Away The Alter Ego”

  1. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to admit that, for the sake of survival, you have had to fragment who you are. Thank you for sharing this. I want you to know that you are not alone in this. I have dealt with anxiety and depression since adolescence and one of the ways I dealt with it was having the mask of myself that everyone seemed to expect since nearly everyone seemed to have difficulty accepting the true me. It was easier to pretend to be someone else than to deal with the rejection so in a way I understand. Thank you for sharing your strength.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Admitting it is a huge step. I think it means you are getting closer to loving and accepting the wonderful person God made you. It’s a struggle. Anxiety is my daily-and you find yourself trying so hard to hide it. You are both loved!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You hit the nail on the head for me on this one. I too have an alternate “me” that I take out whenever I leave my home in the hopes that nobody will notice the struggles I am having and ask what is going on. I think I will also adopt your New Years resolution and try to be more authentic as well. I find it liberating. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great post! I dropped my efforts to be someone I wasn’t too, only in the last few years. For me it began when I was going through the process of being diagnosed with ASD. At that time I was watching myself closely to try to see my own behaviour and I noticed that I was basically faking whenever others were around – at work, at church, with friends, only at home was I myself. I was quite confused and upset by this revelation.
    It took about a year to get my diagnosis because my GP had to apply for funding to put me forward for a formal NHS assessment. But after I got my diagnosis I began to loosen up. I started to be myself outside my home. Church was the first place because my church is really down-to-earth and loving. It gradually spread. For me it wasn’t a courageous decision like you’re making – it just sort of happened but I’m so glad it did. There is a wonderful strength that comes from just being yourself and a sense of wholeness too. People sometimes think less of me but I think that’s because they don’t understand that I can be poor socially and still really bright technically. I don’t mind though – the benefits massively outweigh the issues, which are few and far between. Good luck. I really hope it goes well for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How do you know “issues …are few and far between.”? Something jarring will happen to me, and it is totally unexpected; e.g., getting fired. …but there were probably a lot of little incidents along the way before the jarring incident took place. I think it’s because I’m not “faking” as well as I need to. I can’t read other people well enough (if at all) to tell how they are reacting to me; I ‘m sure I’m missing a lot of the non-verbal implications of what they say, too.

      I realize that I’m probably making an argument for acting naturally all the time (since it’s impossible to fake being NT consistently), but NT people are intolerant of everything. NT people who claim to be tolerant are the worst, since they aren’t tolerant they don’t mind stabbing you in the back (an NT expression) while acting “tolerant”.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Dave, What I meant was that for me, being more my real self has had very few issues. It’s just a fact.
        I still face the thing where bad things suddenly happen without any foreknowledge on my part, but I think that’s because being myself still doesn’t give me any insight into the social stiff which I always miss. I worry constantly about suddenly being fired because of this and handle it by explicitly checking I’m doing OK with my line manager at least once a month.

        How things might work out for other people if they too drop the faking, I don’t know.

        What you say about NT people ‘stabbing you in the back’ metaphorically, rings true with me too. I think many autistic people are more straight-forward and honest than most NTs so this happens a lot. I am regularly amazed at the lies and cheats non autistic people do.
        Anyway, I hope things get better for you. Jo

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jo, thanks for the advice about monthly job reviews; that sounds key to getting along on the job. One manager told me I was a “great programmer” while she was firing me (so getting fired had nothing to do with my job performance); I’ve never been told by a manager how I was doing socially on the job (except on one job, where the manager told me nobody liked me in his account, and he wanted me out of there that day). …but, I’m not really sure how to implement that.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Hi Dave,

            You’re very welcome. I’ve had employment problems all my life so I know someting of how you feel. (I was a programer too for many years – I worked in VB and C# and was an Oracle DBA. I find the technical stuff easy compared to the people stuff.)

            If I were going to implement this ‘review strategy’ in a software engineering job I would just make a reminder in my diary once a month, or once every two weeks, to check with my boss how things are going and I would also ask them if there was something in my way of working that they would like me to improve. That way, hopefully I could get the feedback I needed to deal with whatever social stuff goes wrong from time to time. If they came up with a huge amount of stuff they didn’t like then I would tell them that I would like to address all of those things but it would be better to work on one thing at a time and I would ask them which thing they see as the most important to get sorted first. Then I would work on that, getting advice from family and friends if necessary to sort the issue out.
            I think where bosses feel they can work with someone to deal with these issues they will often do that because it’s much easier than firing someone, so giving them a way to improve what they don’t like about us really helps us keep a job.
            This is just my way of seeing it as well as I am able so please take what is useful for you from this comment and just ignore the rest. All the very best,
            Jo

            Liked by 1 person

          2. First – I LOVE that my readers are helping each other out here! This brings me so much joy. Second – Jo if you have a blog about similar work tips for Aspies I would LOVE to share it on the blog. I am still trying to figure out how to survive at work so don’t feel like an expert on this topic. I can work but I am not thriving (mentally) yet.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Hi, No sorry I don’t have a ‘work tips’ blog. Like a lot of people on the spectrum I’m gradually finding out for myself how to manage employment. I’m no expert. 🙂 My only active blog is my art one. http://jofoxadventuresinart.wordpress.com/

            PS: I don’t know if you ever take suggestions from readers for subjects on your blog, but one thing which I find very difficult is that I have a severe reaction to being lied to. I just can’t be with people who deliberately lie to me or watch a TV interview with people who are deliberatly lying or twisting facts. It brings me so close to a meltdown that I just have to avoid this kind of situation. To me it feels like people are actively twisting reality when they lie. I wonder if this is common in ASD or just a personal querk? I was much happier when I gullably thought everyone always told the truth, which I did for years. I was appaulled when I discovered how much people generally lie. Just an idea – would love to read your take on this subject. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Jo, I’ve retired, so I probably won’t be applying to any software engineering jobs (btw, when my job title was software engineer, it was on VAX/VMS and AS/400 systems; Oracle Rdb and DB2/400. I programmed mostly in C, but I also wrote stuff in Assembler, BASIC, RPG, Smalltalk, etc); I was thinking in terms of part time (whatever I can find local). I just don’t want to burn up every local job within a year.

            When I first moved to my present location I worked as a substitute teacher for the county school district. I noticed on one of your comments that you are currently working in education. The kids were just great (most of the time), but the school administration sucked. Jo, I can’t see myself getting back into the school system, but (just curious, and maybe I can apply this to other job situations) do you find there is anything working in a school that requires any special attention?

            Liked by 1 person

          5. Jo, emotions, just like everything else in people (mentally and physically) developed as survival traits; i.e., if a certain trait helps you survive long enough to procreate, then that trait is passed down. If anger towards a certain type of event leads you to take action that leads to your survival, then you will pass on the genes that cause that type of anger. Trying to survive is a universal trait; not just an autistic one.

            Even if you get mad at people for being dumb, then you find their dumbness as a threat in some way; i.e., you think their dumbness is harming you (or could potentially harm you). Since you get mad at people for lying to you or anybody else, then you see anybody’s lying as harmful to you. …or maybe you see their lying as harmful to the human species in some way, and that would be ultimately harmful to you.

            Personally, if somebody lies to me, and I know it, then there is no threat; i.e., I’m not going to “fall” for whatever the liar is trying to get me to “fall” for. Most of the time my feelings aren’t all that strong, but I have my moods when I can get mad at things that normally wouldn’t bother me, or I could just “brush off”; the scenarios you described wouldn’t do it for me.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. NT people have a public and private dichotomy, too. It’s even a cliché among the NT, “If you knew the real me, you wouldn’t like me.”. In my case, the public me has integrated into the private me (to a large extent); the real me. I.e., a lot of the things I used to force myself to do in public, I now do in private, too.

    I’m still conscious of trying not to talk over people, but now I don’t speak with a machine gun like staccato. I used to force myself to make eye contact; it would last for 1 or 2 seconds at a time. Nowadays I can maintain eye contact for longer periods of time, and then look away in a seemingly natural fashion. I used to repel people with how “hyper” I was; now I get told I’m a very calm person. These are all things I practice in private as well in public; they’ve become part of who I am.

    Yes, there are some things I’m still “faking”, but like I said, everybody has a public persona that is different from their private one.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. its probably a rite of passage for some that get the privilege of coming out– i dont begrudge it to you one bit– it will be a challenge all the way, and youre worth the trouble to yourself.

    for me, its been the opposite. i was too honest and sort of went “into the closet” (until i found your blog, i wasnt sure if other people tried “passing” but it was a revelation that other people do this) because a. it felt good and b. it made communicating easier. most of all, when people find out too many try to coddle me or go out of their way to “cater” to a very glib understanding of what i go through– which fails and leads to frustration, and finally missed opportunities and otherwise okay friendships.

    coming out to my family has cost me 90% of my connection with it. i mean at least i know the truth, its a hefty price though.

    hopefully some day we will come out of the “dark ages” of this thing you and i part of by genetics or whatever exactly happened. no thanks at all to the dsm5, which is another giant setback, not a step forward at all. but ive found more on wordpress than bookstores– dont try too hard, too fast. but sincere congrats on your decision, and the very best of luck in 2017 and so on.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Authenticity is a worthy crusade… and a lifetime journey, I’m thinking (58 and still trying to get there ) By the way, seems to me the woman we meet on these pages is quite authentic.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ” I want to be more true and compassionate for myself.” That’s a beautiful statement. Are you familiar with Brené Brown’s work? Her audiobook, “Men, Women and Worthiness” is really good. If you are interested in giving it a try, I would be happy to gift it to you. I have more Audible credits than I can use.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Blessings to you in 2017. Lately, I too feel like two distinct people. The inner, raw and way too honest self and the self that passes through the filter of social niceties. A deeper walk in my faith has caused more awareness. I pray & study God’s word to continue to grow.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Totally on the same page as you. I had an almost identical conversation with my psychologist just before Xmas because I’ve found that I no longer seem to be able to play the part of the “other” me’s. It’s like I’m an actor who learnt every part for a play so the director could slot me in anywhere & the audience wouldn’t notice but suddenly I can’t remember the lines, facial expressions or movements for any of my parts. Part of it for me is I no longer take up to 8 codeine based pain killers a day to numb my terror or have several stiff drinks + pain pills before social events, which was how I coped for over 20 years. So at 42 nearly 43 I’m learning who the real me actually is and how she behaves. Any time you get wobbly about “just being me” moving forward re-read all these comments & remind yourself there is a virtual tribe of us also on this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can only imagine the toll it must take on you. I myself always had the home me and the school me growing up. It was only in adulthood I learned how to merge them and feel like one person. My son with autism struggles with this as well. He is one child at school, another at home as we try to help him learn how to cope with stress and be himself. Here’s to a wonderful happy and healthy 2017 for you! Wishing you all the best. Joanne.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Being a Chameleon was my way to survive, too. I got bullied as well. I wasn’t safe at school or home. It wasn’t write. it’s not right for you. Those things carry on for the rest of days. Trauma. PTSD. They are that. Fear of being honest should NEVER be the way of life. Be you. You got ONE life and you might as well live it honestly. Live your life for you and no one else. I could go on but I’ll start ranting and swearing. Touchy subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Anna. Another chameleon woman here too. Also wanting liberation from the public me. It is killing me. The pressure is too much. My children see my facade slipping and I owe it to them to make the world safe for them to be themselves; for they are sweet, scared, intelligent souls.

    Liked by 1 person

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