A Stranger to Myself — Removing the masks we wear
“I saw all the people behind their masks. I saw through them and there was suffering.”
Vincent Van Gogh
I always wore a mask, until the mask became me. Stitched into my skin, and always with one objective, to not reveal me. Always terrified, and believing I was not worthy, I frantically dressed the part every day of my life.
The ultimate people pleaser, desperately looking to be liked, admired, and trusted. Love is what I was after, something I never had, and something I could not recognize.
The mask was always my shield. It sheltered me from the worlds chaos, and gave me a hiding place, where my thoughts could choke my mind. This shield, a false protector, separated me from my humanity and emptied my soul.
The mask was the perfect tool to isolate, drawing deep lines in me, and around me, creating beautiful distorted pictures of myself, ensuring nothing was real in any way. And those looking in had no idea who I was, and I didn’t know.
Wearing the mask, doing and being what I believed others wanted me to be was death. A slow painful walk through the fire, gasping, and walking the long narrow line that separates a sound mind. A road map leading nowhere, always making me a stranger to my myself.
I suppose I was hiding my suffering. My psychic pain, feeling like having my skin peeled back in layers, while acid showered my raw flesh. Why couldn’t I share my suffering, bare it all, and be real? What was the fear? What could come of it?
Truthfully, I was intimately attached to my suffering and the masks that covered it. My suffering, my masks, and me, were one, complete, but infinitely fragmented. I gripped these masks of suffering as if my life depended on it, and letting go would mean falling into the unknown, a dark cavern, where death was certain.
Letting go, the fall, and death, the things that terrified me, that kept me frozen and hidden held the key to my new life. I held my suffering, it was me and my masks that kept me in that place, isolated, guarded, and a prisoner.
To gain a life, I had to lose my life. I had to shed the masks, stack them carefully, and burn them. And now just ash, the shackles removed, I am free to live authentically, with a clear heart, and walk with the living.