Tag Archive | Hiding

Hiding behind a mask – Fooling no one but myself.


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 tainted 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

The details of a memory.

imageSometimes a memory, long since forgotten, will choose to emerge and when it presents itself you have to decide what to do with that memory. I suppose you can try to bury it deep inside, try to send it back to where it came from. You can cling to it and incorporate it into your life. You can let it control you or you can attempt to make peace with it.

I have tried to bury many memories but there are always more waiting just below the surface for their chance to escape. I’ve clung to many a memory and I’ve tried to rid myself of many more. I’ve found the worst of them simply need to be remembered. They need to be acknowledged and only then will they blend into the fabric of your life and become a part of that which makes you whole.

Some are too painful to find complete peace with. I’ve tried. In my quest for closure I realized a memory itself is sometimes more than what it appears to be. We only focus on a small part of it, the part that hurts or brings us fear, but every memory has something that came before and something that came after. Every memory has little pieces buried within it that can change your perception of it.

The memory will always be, we cannot change what has already come to pass, but acceptance can be found if you take the remembrance apart like a puzzle and examine each little piece as if it were a memory of its own. Sometimes you’ll be surprised at what you find.

An old memory recently came to call, a quite unwelcome visitor. Instead of going through the tiring and pointless process of trying to push it back into the depths of me, I decided to find a place within me where it could finally be laid to rest. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get past the pain, but I examined it and began to find little details I hadn’t noticed before. Those details led me to an unexpected place.

I found a blessing in that awful memory. I realized my life was changed by that moment in time in more ways than I’d ever known. It was the details I sought out that derailed the way it usually unfurled itself. My past experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. I’ve always known that. What I didn’t know was just how much the hidden pieces of them had changed me and altered the course I would take in life.

When I was a little girl we had the most beautiful couch. It was velvety to the touch and colored like silken sands glistening in the sun on a far away island beach. It’s cushions where soft and welcoming. I loved that couch. I loved everything about it, especially the space in the corner where it met the wall; it was like a secret entrance. It was big enough for me and my baby sister to crawl into and find comfort and safety when the bad things happened.

I kept a few of my books hidden there, my favorites. Sometimes I would read them and pretend I was part of the stories. I would sail away on a magical boat or soar through the sky until I found a rainbow to land on. I would take my little sister on whispered adventures through mystical forests of fantasy. I traveled many miles and met many people during my journeys. Sometimes though, I would press my books tightly to my ears so I couldn’t hear the violent storm my mother was caught up in. Sometimes my tears stained the pages, sometimes the pages dried my tears.

I would hold my precious books close to me and pray the bad things would stop. I would hold them closer still when it was over and my mother would fall to the couch, staining the velvety fabric with crimson drops of life and crystalline tears sorrow. Sometimes I crawled out and cried with her and other times I stayed still and quiet so she wouldn’t see I was crying too.

We walked out the door one day and left the couch and everything else behind. My favorite books were forgotten, left to lay behind the soft, sand colored couch. I longed for them, for they had been my armor for so long and I feared without them I couldn’t be strong if I needed to be. A day soon came when it was safe to go back to the house with the sand colored couch and I reclaimed my books.

When I re-examine the couch of my memory now, it is different from the one my innocence had imagined. The velvety fabric faded, the softness replaced with wear. The cushions were flattened, their comfort long since used up. It was the color of carpet when boots have been tracked in on a rainy day. It was a nice enough couch; it just wasn’t the couch my young mind had made it to be.

The small space in the corner where the couch met the wall was barely big enough for one to squeeze into, but it had been a fortress for two. I know now the protection I thought it provided us was more of a longing than a reality. I don’t know what happened to the sand colored couch after we walked out that door for the last time.

I don’t know what happened to my favorite books. One by one they must have been left behind and lost as the years of my childhood quickly passed. I hope they were found and treasured by another and I pray my tears are the only ones that ever fell to soak into their pages.

My books, like that couch, where a part of my past that provided both protection and solace for me. The couch has become a symbol, a reminder not everything is always how it seems to be. Maybe it’s why I always see beauty in the brambles. Those books, my first books, the ones my mother used to teach me to read, somehow took me on one last journey with them, one which led me into the future.

I became a part of those stories and they will always be a part of me. I was given a moments peace in the midst of chaos because someone once sat down and penned simple words to a page, never knowing they would one day shield a little girl from the absolute pain of her world, even if it was just for a moment in time.

I honor and cherish those who carried me away on their quill when I had nowhere I could run to. They were my best friends when I had none. The poets and the storytellers who filled page after page with pieces of themselves were my heroes. They will always be my heroes. They gently held my hand and waltzed with me as I put pen to paper and began my own dance with words.

The pain of that memory and many more like it still linger, but they don’t have the hold on me they once did. I took what I thought represented nothing but sorrow and anger and fear in my life and I pulled something worthy out of it. I know God was with us there in the little corner behind the soft, sand colored couch. He gave me what I needed to get to where I am and I will forever praise him for that gift.

Crystal R. Cook