I came upon this angelic form outside the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing in Los Angeles. Awash in patina, she stood regally on the deserted streetscape. The flowing locks, the wings, the open arms beckoned me to approach. As I got closer I noticed the angel was wearing a mask.

I thought about why this shocked me just a little.

I am a keeper of secrets. A wearer of masks.

This comes from a lifetime of practice.

Having an alcoholic parent, I learned to clean up/cover up/divert attention/lie/gloss over the facts/rewrite history for public consumption.

It goes on from there. A bad first marriage made it  easy to slip back into the habit of  clean up/cover up/divert attention/lie/gloss over the facts/rewrite history for family consumption.

Having sprouted from a family tree whose limbs are heavy with the weight of secrets/lies/cover ups is another big part of it.

It gets to the point where I cannot buy a pair of shoes without wondering if I should say anything to anyone.

I’m trying to unmask a little more. But it’s not easy. Sometimes I don’t know how to defend my own truth. I put something out there and the consequences seem endless. It’s easier to keep it tucked away.

Sometimes, when in the right company, I can just be me. Later, always later, I cringe. I went too far, I think.

Then there are those times when candor  is nothing more than handing ammunition to the enemy. Years ago I revealed to a partner — one to whom I thought I could go maskless —  that I am an abuse survivor. He couldn’t handle this truth. Ultimately, it destroyed our relationship.

I want this to end. I’m aware that every mask I strap on my psyche further clouds who I really am. Not only to others who have nothing other to go on than what they see and hear and read, but also to myself. How can I live an authentic life and interact with others when I am not presenting to the world who I am?

This is one of the many goals I’ve set for myself. I want to unmask a little more and live with the consequences. If someone can’t deal with my truth, I need to let it go.

14 thoughts on “Mask/unmask

  1. I understand about the masks. I seem to have a need to “pretty things up” even when speaking to good friends. I have no abuse in my past that I am aware of, I just feel the need for some reason to do this. *sigh* Maybe I need to go back to that therapist after all…

  2. I understand completely. I have two girlfriends that I feel completely comfortable letting them know me, the real me, the whole me. I’ve known them since elementary school. I do the same thing though. After unmasking more than usual, I kick myself the whole way home.

  3. Deb: In unmasked solidarity. I like it, too.
    Summer: It’s wonderful to have those friends from back in the day.
    TeacherMommy: I found a bunch of stuff inside your head. Would you like to pick it up or should I donate it?

  4. Molly: Yeah, I’m never sure if I’m unmasking here or not because I write anonymously. However, I appreciate your feedback. Thanks.

  5. I am an abuse survivor. And I am all too familiar with the clean up/cover up/divert attention/lie/gloss over the facts/rewrite history for public consumption DANCE. And, I’ve been dumped more times for telling the truth about my past. And yet, I keep umasking myself. WHY? Because I AM OKAY with who I am. Those who judge me don’t matter, and those who matter don’t judge me.

  6. i think everyone wears a mask at times. it has only been in the past 10 years that i completely dropped mine. some people don’t like me for it. i have no use for them.

    hugs to you.

  7. What a great piece of art that it has affected us all and we are still talking about it. I think I would have been moved by coming across it as well.

    As far as your angst about this, you are not alone. And, remember, being authentic and living your truth doesn’t mean that everyone needs to know everything about you. I think it is more about finding peace with your past (which is way easier said than done!) and then living in a way that is aligned with your beliefs.

  8. Sher: Thanks and good for you.
    Kristy: I struggle with the balance of this one. Of course I don’t need to tell all, but not telling anything skews things, too. Peace with the past is hard. Working toward it every day.

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