We all have a disguise. Something we use as a safety to hide behind when we don’t want people to see the real us. Laughter when we really feel pain. Keeping busy and involved to avoid a truth. Make up or clothing to hide a flaw. Gossip or caddyness to hide jealousy or frustration. We all have one.
But what if your disguise is uncontrollable because it has you? You come across a certain way because you are wired differently? You appear one way to people but it isn’t your authentic self. You can’t help the disguise. It is hard to understand when it doesn’t have you. I see this all the time with kids that struggle because they are wired differently. The kid that acts out because they need some extra attention – they aren’t trying to be naughty, they just need someone to stop for a few minutes and just give them some extra love and attention. Children on the spectrum that have sensory issues…its not that they are picky with what they want to wear…but their bodies can not take the feel of a tag or the tightness of a waistband. We accommodate these issues for them and life is easier for parent and child.
My child hides behind an armor of non stop talking and persistence, which comes across to others that don’t understand her as annoying and tiring. Sad to say sometimes her mom forgets this. She has taught me so much about her daily struggles. She has such high anxiety and would rather surround herself with negative kids at school that are beyond rude and hurtful that call her every name in the book because she knows what to expect in those situations. To go meet a new friend or try and sit with new kids at lunch is so out of her realm of her comfort zone she just would never try it. She has ONE kid that is nice to her that she follows like a puppy and spends all of her energy on. She feels lucky that this one kid is patient enough to be nice to her. But when that is the only person – she comes across clingy, persistent and overall annoying. In her mind she sees it as a good friend, when really it is one kid with a lot of patience. Other kids see this persistence behavior and stay away from her and treat her crappy because they don’t understand that is her disguise. Her disguise that a popular kid likes her the same way therefore all this kids friends to do. But the reality is they are awful to her because she clings to THEIR friend ALL THE TIME.
I see how exhausted she can be after school…trying to hide behind the “being friends with a group of people” that are really jerks to her, trying to keep an above failing grade in her classes when she struggles with learning and processing and keep the fake smile up that everything was ok at school. If all kids could see that others may struggle and the cover of the book doesn’t always tell the accurate story. If they knew – perhaps they would understand she just wants a friend and a successful day. That she is so full of love, laughter and a bright smile…but at the end of the day that light is barely flickering and darkness sets in. As a mother there is nothing more heart wrenching to see your daughter struggle with this. Socially she can’t help a lot of it. Her disguise keeps her from having nice friends, being invited to things, etc. High school should be fun and a new world of learning to drive, dances, sleepovers, football games etc. But her world is so different, lonely. As a mom I can pep talk her, build her self esteem up…but at this age she needs that from peers to be believable.