On the mantle sit all the masks of every emotion and body language that I can collect. Visitors come to the house see them as a wooden collection of masks from tribal villages across the globe. They may notice one is missing, but think nothing of it. If they ask, I do not say I am wearing it. It is the mask of friendliness, welcome and being the hostess. After all are gone, the mask comes off and all the day’s interaction comes crashing down on my shoulders, knocking me to the floor like a heavyweight boxer sucker punching me in the jaw. Once down, I realize how tired I am and what a mess I am.
Conversations replay in my mind, sending me spinning once again as the emotions I stuffed begin to surface and I want to lash out at each individual, “No, that isn't what I meant.” The unfinished sentence I started and couldn't finish because another thought I was done so she changed the subject, or figured she knew what I was getting at jumped in to finish it for me.
“Why can’t you just let me to talk?” But no, the mask keeps me in check. I am to be polite, well-mannered and not let anyone know underneath boils an angry fire that wants to rip others to shreds. In the end, that angry fire turns to self- recrimination. Oh, how I hate myself because I am the weak, powerless person who will never be able to live up to my dreams of being better than I truly am.
I am me. I am wise. I am who I am. Short, others see a fat and I roll along happy-go-lucky like a bumbling no-nothing drunk who no one thinks is smart. Only there is a lot wisdom within that drunk. Have you ever considered that deep down, that drunk is also hiding who he really is? And maybe the drunken person is just acting that way when his real person is sober?
In the morning, I wake and all the thoughts of the day before, all the unsolved problems of the world and my personal life fall on top of me causing every muscle to tense up and my shoulders to slump. All the things I still want to say to someone, but refuse to actually say because those conversations were days ago, and I struggle to get up, wanting to shake them off like a dog shaking off water after a bath. Is it possible to bathe your mind? Gurus would say it is meditation; meditation, pure white light streaming in through the crown chakra and slowly spreading throughout the whole body. Instead, I long to crawl back into bed and let sleep help me to forget.
Before I leave the house, I put on the happy mask, and it transforms me into the happy-go-lucky person others expect of me. The problems do not vanish, they are buried way underneath so others do not see them. My mom told me to never air my dirty laundry or aches and pains. No one see my limp or emotional wounds.
I have read that each person has a mask she wears to hide who she really is. A friend was advising me how to choose a professional persona to dress for and use when meeting other authors or prospective customers who would buy my books. She spoke with knowledge of one who had her various masks all labeled and ready to put on to match the occasion. I realized she never left home or greeted someone without a mask. It reminded me of the Jetsons, when Jane would put on a mask to hide her morning face to answer the video phone. I told my friend it is exhausting to wear a mask all the time.
I retired the mask. Or so I thought. Yet I realize it is still there. Playing small; playing like the weak, know nothing or playing for sympathy to get others to bend to my desires is also a mask. I retire that one, too. Saying no one likes me and I have no friends, it, too, is a mask. What am I hiding underneath it all? Fear. Fear of being so well accepted, and accomplished that I will not be able to handle it. I am ready. I am ready to show myself what I can accomplish. The masks come off. All of them. They will stay on the mantle.
What masks are you wearing? Are you ready to retire them?