Wearing A Mask

The nature of hiding my true self

(Originally posted on patheos.com/blogs/themuslimhippie)

I needed to be social. I needed to be the ‘me’ that’s acceptable in the company of others. I did want to go out as the real me. To interact with people in a genuine fashion for a change. But now that I’m home, away from all the noise… I’m realizing I wore my mask again today. It’s the one that hides how I feel from others. The one that smiles when I want to break down crying. The one that absorbs pain and hurt, and morphs my face into a more agreeable pose. It grins and laughs when people are speaking to me, covering up my anxiety, my fear. My mask served me well, while I was in public. But at home, now that the mask has fallen aside, I feel like a liar. 

As soon as I walked in my door, I could feel my mask slipping away. I used it one more time to smile at someone as I passed them on my way upstairs. It was a weary smile. My mask was abandoning me. Quickly I raced up the 3 flights to my loft. The steps seemed endless and I was anxious to get to my room. I could feel a sob welling in my chest, the one that comes out when I’m lonely. I just wanted to get back to my private space, where I could feel my true emotions in peace. I wanted to breathe freely behind closed doors where no one could judge me. 

By the time I climbed my bedroom steps, my mask was long gone. All that was left was the raw me. It’s always so painful when I reveal myself at the end of the day. Taking off my mask hurts because I instantly feel all the feelings I was hiding for so long. The painful emotions come rushing back and I’m powerless against their daggers. 

I wear this mask almost unconsciously now. I’ve perfected the art of putting it on at a moment’s notice. I feel like I should be perfect and likable when I’m around other people. Because of anxiety, I feel like everybody wants me to be a certain way; and so, I give that to them. But when I’m alone, there’s no one to perform for and I feel incomplete. I’m not always happy or bubbly. I can’t always let comments roll off my back. I’m an anxious person with a lot of complex feelings. Many are too deep for public consumption. 

So, I’ve learned to live with my mask and use it when needed. At one time, I thought I could live without it. But after tonight, I see that I can’t. Sometimes when I’m alone and I’m dealing with my emotions, I wish I had another mask; one that shielded me from myself. One that protected me from feeling things so deeply and getting hurt so easily. But I know that’s just a dangerous wish.