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AngelL
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08 Aug 2021, 5:10 pm

I've no idea how often it's happened to me but the situation has occurred many times in my life. I'm driving and 'following' someone, from the front. On at least some of those instances, I was following someone to an unfamiliar location, we got separated by a traffic light and I ended up in front of them.

I look in my rear view mirror and they are signaling that they're changing lanes and heading for the furthest 'left' lane; so, I do too. Then I watch very carefully for their signal to come on because I am assuming they got in the far left lane to make a left hand turn at some point, and I haven't been able to get behind them again yet because of traffic. As soon as they put on their turn signal, so do I and then I take the next left. I'm still following their lead, but from a much more stressful position - because from in front of them, I don't have a lot of time to react to the 'signals' they're giving me.

THAT is what masking feels like to me. I try to blend in with neuro-typicals by watching what they do and then somehow do it so fast that it appears that we're doing it at the same time - or even as if I did it first. It is so exhausting, so stressful, and so invalidating...

Sorry folks, I've spent my life ignoring and denying my experiences as it pertains to the spectrum - and now I'm not. So much is coming up for me and I keep dumping it here. Anyway...can anyone relate to this at all?



Mountain Goat
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08 Aug 2021, 5:35 pm

Yes. That is the feeling! :D

Or one will go into meet new people without masking much but not know what to say. It is not rhat one can't speak. It is more that one feels one aught to speak but one is not sure what words to say that are appropiate because the usual scripted techniques may not work.
Yet other people seem to just do it somehow and talk...


The rather strange thing is that when I wear work masks in the various jobs I have been in I can do it. I can just walk up and talk... But it is because I have not really had jobs apart from one that do not involve one of my special interests. This gives me common things to talk about.



aquafelix
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09 Aug 2021, 4:56 am

I can can relate to the observing and following someone's lead when it comes to social situations.



timf
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09 Aug 2021, 6:00 am

There is more anxiety associated with attempting a perfect mask. Sometimes it can be helpful to only partially mask. Instead of trying to pass undetected, if you allow a persona that is a little "odd" instead of perfect, you may make the mask a little less uncomfortable.



CinderashAutomaton
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09 Aug 2021, 2:01 pm

Maybe it's due to my own unique approach but I don't feel the same way.

My default behavioral profile is to be quiet and polite while I observe, analyze and construct behavioral profiles better suited to individual people or groups.

Of course, that sounds a lot more clinical than the actual process I go through and lacks the nebulous task of waiting until I 'feel' safe enough around a person or several people.

Honestly, the biggest struggle to me has been waiting to feel safe and habitualizing enough behaviors to keep conversations flowing and feeling 'natural', as the social snowflakes like to call it.


_________________
Thank you deeply for sharing your experiences. I don't feel so alone anymore.


cbd
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09 Aug 2021, 2:03 pm

it is very exhausting after a while . the biggest obstacle is allowing yourself to be . you will reach a point where masking seems counterproductive . at this point the barrier will unblock from your path



AngelL
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09 Aug 2021, 2:28 pm

CinderashAutomaton wrote:
Maybe it's due to my own unique approach but I don't feel the same way.

My default behavioral profile is to be quiet and polite while I observe, analyze and construct behavioral profiles better suited to individual people or groups.

Of course, that sounds a lot more clinical than the actual process I go through and lacks the nebulous task of waiting until I 'feel' safe enough around a person or several people.

Honestly, the biggest struggle to me has been waiting to feel safe and habitualizing enough behaviors to keep conversations flowing and feeling 'natural', as the social snowflakes like to call it.


I am familiar with what you are describing, I believe. The 'following from in front' technique isn't always in use for me, sometimes it is more like you've described - especially lately because I am feeling too burnt out to manage the former. In addition to analyzing and constructing behavior profiles, I also create (usually via writing) what I refer to as 'sub-routines' in which I insert prepared snippets of stories or conversation into an existing interaction. I do so in order to keep the pacing of the conversation steady and natural.

For instance, I once accidentally responded to my doctor asking me 'what brought me in today' with, "My car." Since every time I left his office he would tell me to make another appointment for a month from then, I assumed that he understood the purpose of my visit, so he must have been asking about the method. He wasn't. His question was simply one of those rhetorical, small talk kind of things and I missed that. His reaction - surprise and confusion, alerted me to the fact that there was something in my answer that didn't compute with him. The only other option I could imagine was that he wasn't asking about the method. So I broke into a wide grin, gave him a wink, and said, "I was just kidding; this is just a follow-up." He laughed - so I kept it. Now whenever I go into a new doctors office, or lawyers office, or...whatever - and am asked what brings me in today, I always respond with, "My car." Now though, I expect the look of confusion and when it hits I continue with the sub-routine, substituting 'follow-up' with whatever word is appropriate.

I've been really fortunate in that my career (disabled/retired now) included a lot of travelling and I decided when it was time to travel. So I got to try out sub-routines in one place and if they didn't work out, I'd rid my repertoire of that particular one. Those that did work I would keep and maybe refine in the next location. Too, because I was constantly moving around, I would appropriate other peoples jokes that were successful. Often it wasn't a joke per se, but maybe sarcasm or an entertaining story - it didn't matter, if it was delivered successfully and was enthusiastically received, I made it mine at the next location. Anyway, it really helped me to create conversation content that sounded 'normal'.