“The woods are lovely, dark , and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. . .” Robert Frost
Turning off emotions that don’t serve me is something I have thought about a lot during my adulthood. I realize that I may have always been quite good at shutting some of my emotions off and I suspect that I became quite adept from an early age. Sometimes I wonder if this is purely instinctual or if it is learned behavior. I suspect it is a combination of both, but I really don’t know and I guess it doesn’t really matter. The truth is I can turn off some of my emotions automatically. People say I’m stoic. This is a quality that I’ve come to understand about myself after years of seeing it reflected back to me. After years of feeling misunderstood. Like everything else in life, there is good and bad that comes with stoicism. That’s life.
The downside. I have a poker face. So my words are important and I don’t always choose them carefully enough. I feel misunderstood. My facial expressions sometimes don’t match my feelings or the words I may be using to express myself. Sometimes I laugh when I don’t mean to at all. This results in miscommunication, hurt feelings, bad blood, disconnection from loved ones, and feelings of abandonment. It causes me to turn inward to avoid hurting others. And then that hurts them, too. It’s a no win situation really.
The upside. I have a poker face. The only time I really cannot control my face is at times when I am feeling really angry or sad. At these times I might appear to have a little smirk on my face that is misinterpreted as snobbery or sarcasm or meanness. This was something that a good friend pointed out to me in high school. I might have gone years longer if she hadn’t pointed this out so kindly. Thank you, Kelly.
Because I have been a special education policy lawyer for twenty years and I read educational evaluations as a job, I think that it helps some people to understand me better if I identify myself. I am neurodiverse. I have never received a diagnosis and have never been identified definitively as being on the autism spectrum. The truth is I found out as an adult that when I was a child there were teachers who suspected that I had autism , but I have never received a diagnosis and I was never evaluated by the education system or identified as anything other than gifted and talented.
That is irrelevant. I identify myself. What I do not identify with is it being a disorder. It’s just my human design. I am hoping that by knowing this people may be able to understand me better. And they will forgive me for my miscommunications or other challenges that being in relationship with me might present.
This is just who I am.