The real “me” under the Mask

**disclaimer: the season I am in is “INTENSE” and painful…not as “upbeat” as I’d like it to be.  This topic is not popular. So I  caution readers to pray and gauge where they are and ask if this is something you should be reading.  I recognize the writing or my stories may act as a trigger. If it’s too intense, please stop reading and seek someone to talk to (counselor, pastor or friend) about what you are feeling and experiencing.

 Is it possible to wear a mask and not be aware of it?

Can you have a mask on so long ago that it feels like your own skin?

 Mask= to hide under a false appearance; a covering (typically for protection, concealment, or performance); to disguise: make unrecognizable

 I know some of my friends reading this will know immediately what their “masks” are and have been working on being real for some time.  I didn’t think I was one of them. I would proudly think to myself, “With me, what you see is what you get.”

Imagine my surprise when I realized I am the person who was deceived in her own heart, unaware of the facade I had created for myself and presented to everyone including God.   I live behind a mask that presents a socially competent, emotionally stable, confident, calm and well-rounded woman.  She is well spoken, goal-oriented, pleasant, good in relationships, forgiving and rarely gets angry or explodes on anyone.  Many see her as a God-serving, comfortable, kind, gentle and loving woman.  The mask is so convincing, it’s how I see myself.

 But it’s not how I feel.

It’s not me at all.

The “real” me is fearful of being unsafe, hurt, out of control, abandoned, rejected and alone. The real me controls every emotion: if it’s too intense or painful, I shut it off. I avoid conflict.  The real me lives in an inner world of self-contempt and hatred and fears that anyone who sees it will freak at my brokenness and leave.  The real me lives with self-centered anger and punishes myself for any “wrongs” preformed.  The real me feels defenseless, helpless, weak and broken beyond repair. I wonder if even God Himself could fix the pieces and make this heart whole again.

 Wearing such a mask is torment.  We were not created to live as two people (a version of a divided person).  Such a way of living numbs how we are supposed to live and experience life. Yes, it numbs the pain but it also numbs the capacity to feel love, passion, and the fullness of peace

Until now, I asked “why” over and over until I was exhausted. Why can’t I do what I need to do to change? Why can’t I just feel joy and love at the depth of my soul like I know I’m suppose to? Why can’t I find one thing I’m passionate about?? Why? Why? WHY!?

Until now, I couldn’t label it…so I buried it.

 How can we wear a mask for so long and not see what it’s doing to us? How can we be so unaware of ourselves?

My only explanation is that when we are wounded deeply at a young age, we act on instinct and instinct=SURVIVE.   Survival quickly becomes a way of life and a way of life quickly defines and molds your character and personality. If it goes on long enough, it takes over and that is all you know. You don’t know how to live or BE any other way.

Most of us will choose the path that is less painful, even if it numbs our soul and mutes our cry for love. The path of least resistance=safety, survival and escape.   The TRUTH is the mask robs us of true healing, true living and true love.

 But how do you (…gasp), take it off?  What happens when the cold air of reality or the burning heat of pain hits the wound you have covered for so long?  What happens when we are brutally honest with ourselves and God? What happens if I set down the only thing I think I CONTROL in my life…this fake identity I have created for myself? What will I LEAN on THEN?! Who will keep me safe?

 Oh my God? What happens?