What would you do if you weren't afraid of being seen?
I’ve not written a post in a little while as I’ve been busy behind the scenes doing some other things. Some of you might have seen that I part of a panel of neurodivergent therapists last week. We were all sharing parts of our lived experiences and I spoke about the parallels and intersections of my queer and autistic identities, particularly the process of ‘coming out’. As part of the talk, I reflected on how I had used these posts to start experimenting with being more ‘out’ as an autistic professional and the level of vulnerability I felt about letting that part of me be seen.
Before becoming aware of my autistic identity, I was a high masker most of the time (sometimes more successfully than others), something that had a huge cost to my wellbeing. It was driven by my beliefs that there was something wrong with me, that I was a bad person and I had to make sure that no one saw the real me so I could stay safe. Understanding my autistic identity was the first step to working through a lot of the blame and shame I was carrying around with me because of these beliefs and it helped me to move towards a more positive view of myself. This developed into a practice of acceptance and compassion for myself which was the foundation that I used to start curating a life that met my needs rather than trying to force myself into one that didn’t work for me.
While in some ways who I am hasn’t changed (I was still autistic for all those years before I knew it) the way I relate to myself is now completely different and has opened up new possibilities. Not only was I able to be part of Fridays panel, but I’m also working on creating some training and resources for therapists working with autistic clients. These will be based on both my lived experience and what I’ve learnt through my work with clients and supervisees over the last few years. These things would not have been possible before, when I believed I had to hide who I was, but now I know that who I am is ok, there is space for so much more.
There is still vulnerability in choosing to share more of myself in different ways, but it feels more appropriate and manageable. Rather than fear of being found out, there is excitement in sharing what I have learnt in the hope that it will be useful to others. I know that there is nothing innately wrong with who I am, I understand that my brain processes things differently to some people and that I may have different needs, but that is ok. It took me a long time to get here, but I can finally say that, most of the time ,I like myself and am content with my life.
I’d love to know what you would be doing if you weren’t afraid of being seen.