Hiding behind a mask – Fooling no one but myself.

mask__reprise_by_lostonmyown

George Bernard Shaw said – Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.

I was in hiding for years; I tried with all my might to summon strength enough to pull myself up and into the light of life, but I always seemed to remain imprisoned within the shadows of my heart; at least I thought I was. I realized one day everyone could see me. The invisible walls I thought concealed and contained me were nothing more than an illusion of my own making. My vision taintedΒ by the very mask I’d been using to hide.

Throughout my life I’ve tried on various masks, some were to hide from fear, some from pain, some from memories. None of them ever fit just right, but I slipped each one over my soul, disregarding the discomfort. I became used to it. I convinced myself I donned each mask for the sake of someone else. I fooled myself into thinking I could never be without one.

Horace Mann – Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.

I feared what would be thought of me if the ones I loved knew all my truths, my fears, and my failures, real or perceived. I didn’t want them to see who I was because I had somehow forgotten my real self, I’d buried her beneath unrealistic, self-imposed responsibilities and expectations. I was crushed beneath the ideals of who I thought I was supposed to be. I don’t know how much I missed, how much of me I robbed from those I loved while pretending to be more or less of who I actually was.

Now, I think back on it and I’m not certain what it was I actually feared. I knew they would not stop loving me, but the little voice that so often whispers words only we can hear, told me they would think I was weak. It told me I had to hide, no one could know of my secret shames even though deep down I knew I’d nothing to be ashamed of. But that little voice told me to hide it all, so I hid.

Japanese proverb – Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.

I tried to hide from my family and my friends, but the one I tried the hardest to hide from was myself. I didn’t want to face what I saw as flaws and inadequacies. I turned away from myself so I would not be forced to look upon what I thought were my failures. I thought if I stayed hidden and just played the role of the person I imagined I was supposed to be it would make it all easier. I was wrong.

Confucius – Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

The person I pretended to be was stronger and braver and smarter than I thought I was. The fake self I presented to the world fooled no one but me. The fear and the doubt I didn’t want anyone to see, that I didn’t want to feel, was always right there beneath the surface of my faulty facade. It was the dark that dimmed the light in my eyes. I was wrong to think I needed to hide who I was and how I felt. It took me a long time to realize and recognize my only true fault was trying to hide who I was.

Robert Louis Stevenson – To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.

It turned out I was human, and it was actually okay to be human. I found my strength in what I thought was weakness. I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be. I found faith in myself through my fading doubt. I still struggle, but I believe in myself more than I ever thought was possible.

My flowing tears were healing rivers and my broken heart mended my soul. There was a time I thought I needed to hold back the flood, that it would somehow drown me, I found instead, releasing it allowed me to breathe again. What I thought was heartbreak was heartache that simply needed nurturing.

Siren Kierkegaard – There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.

Sometimes, I still hear that awful little voice telling me I’m not worthy of even myself. I no longer listen, I choose not to listen and I choose to be who I truly am. I admit to sometimes smiling when I do not feel like smiling, I say I’m okay when I may not really be, but I catch myself. I refuse to allow myself to find comfort beneath those masks even though sometimes, for a moment, they offer a sense of security.

I am on a journey, as we all are, a journey of discovery and change that began the moment we breathed our first breath and will only end when we’ve breathed our last. I am discovering who I am. I am someone who can ask for help and not feel as though I’ve admitted to failure in doing so. I am someone who sheds tears that must be shed without feeling weak. I am someone who cannot do it all alone. I am someone who knows more than she once did, someone who looks forward to what the future may hold instead of fearing it or letting the past dictate where it might lead.

I am someone . . . simply me.

As George Eliot once said, It is never too late to become what you might have been.

Crystal R. Cook

18 thoughts on “Hiding behind a mask – Fooling no one but myself.

    • Thank you . . . Life is journey! It wasn’t until my kids reached their mid-teens I realized I had lost little pieces of myself somewhere along the way – it turned out those pieces weren’t so much lost as they were scattered about. I still find one every now and again πŸ™‚

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  1. OH my. This is my visit for today from a certain blogging group I frequent. and I am so glad I picked this one. I have a few things to say.

    First, if you will permit a secular person to use a Christian analogy, what you are describing here sounds like “Hiding your light under a bushel.” And I will agree with the received wisdom for just enough words to say “Hide it under a bushel NO! I’m gonna let it shine!”

    Second. We are human whether we like it or not. We cannot be robots no matter how hard we try because we are not made of silicon and metal. We have emotions dadblameit! A person is many things, but a person is not a machine. So good, good, good that you are finding ways to be stronger and braver and not short your emotions in the doing of it.

    Third. Love the quotes. I will add one. This is Frank Herbert, from Dune.

    β€œI must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

    That quote requires a lot of unpacking, if you are not familiar, and I have no idea how up you are on Dune, but it is presented as wisdom and is a First Principle. There is a whole system of magic (for lack of a better word) founded on it.

    Fourth. Masks can be useful. Once you understand that everyone who is really paying attention sees through them, and you start to learn to use them for purposes other than hiding your real self, because that does no good, they can be fun, and good for a laughs. I am awfully fond of my sorcerer mask. But it that not a disguise. It is just me being me, with better art. Took me forever to learn that trick. I do understand what you are getting at with the masking of yourself. I did that forever. It just does not work.

    Sorry for the length if this is too much, and no idea how this comment is going to come across. It’s an attempt at encouragement, is all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you picked this one too! When I was a little girl, that was one of my favorite songs to sing, my mom always told me to let my light shine, and through life there has always been, even in the darkest parts, little slivers of light peeking through. It was when my kids hit their mid-teens I truly acknowledged I had been carrying that bushel around with me. I realized I’d lost pieces of myself as I traveled through life, then thankfully, I realized those pieces weren’t lost, just scattered about.

      The human condition. I have it πŸ˜‰

      I do still have certain masks, but they are part of who I am as opposed to being something to hide beneath. Oh, I do know Dune and I love that quote . . . *fear is a mind-killer*, indeed it can be.

      Thank you for taking the time to reply, the long ones are often the best ones. Your comment comes across as being thoughtful and understanding of the subject, and yes, encouraging.

      *It’s just being me, with better art.” Love that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is exquisite Crystal. One of my favorite posts I have ever read. Truly. I think there are truths in your words (and all those you quoted) that resonates with every single human being.

    Beautifully said, dear friend. SO beautifully said.

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    • Your kind words touched my heart . . . thank you. I am a work in progress, as all we are πŸ™‚ Those quotes have each inspired me at some point, I intended to use just one, but they all seemed so fitting.

      Someday, I think I am going to write a book to share all of my favorite quotes and what they have meant to me. I sometimes wish I could just thank every one of these amazing people for penning their thoughts to a page. I wonder if they had any idea when they brought them to life just how powerful they would become.

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  3. I would like to say I’ve thrown those old masks away, but every now and then I admit to slipping one on . . . preservation of self? Doesn’t make much sense I suppose. I still find it difficult not to slip onto those old roles, but at the very least I’m aware when I do, maybe not at first, but I do sincerely try. For the most part, I have always been a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of gal, I just didn’t and don’t always let people see *me* . . . I don’t wear a mask, I just retreat into myself. Hmm, maybe I need to write a new bit on that πŸ™‚

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