The thing about a mask is sometimes, you don’t even realize when you put it on and when you remove it. If you have the right people in your life, They will tear the mask off for you when you are too fearful or stubborn to do it yourself. Today in one of my rehab groups, we discussed the use of masks in our own lives. I was then handed a plain one, and was told to artistically express the masks I choose to wear. Below is pictured the final product of the mask I created. The left side represents chaotic order. I feel good about myself when I’m known for being busy. I think that if I’m busy, people will think I’m well liked and important. All those numbers you see are the amount of coffee dates and appointments I attempt to fit into a single week. The arrows represent the many directions my mind is pulling me, yet the overwhelming desire to have it all “together” “on track” or “perfect.” And my color choice? Black and red represent the heaviness that comes along with trying to impress everyone with my schedule.
But then we shuffle to the right, and observe the spontaneous multi-colored expression. With different squiggles, the entire rainbow, and four individual tear drops, I tried to depict my personality. I am bursting at the seams with life, excited and ready for each twist that comes. Spunk and vivaciousness takes over-and I’m suddenly known as the happy-go-lucky, passionate woman who can’t and won’t be stopped. The tear drops indicate that even the most durable mask can only last for so long. There’s going to be a crack of transparency somewhere.
My masks have become so comfortable that I’ve lost sight of all that I am. You know when you have a cut and you put a bandaid over it? At first the cut really hurts, but once you’ve bandaged it up, it’s easy to forget about the pain beneath the bandaid. Eventually you’re going to have to rip off that bandaid though. You can’t keep it on forever. My masks have become my bandaid. It protects from the germs of rejection. It guards me from the risk of being viewed as “irrelevant.” One of my biggest fears is my authentic self being denied. So with that fear, I either over-plan my life and control each aspect, or I choose to live as large and dramatic as I possibly can.
In addition to wearing masks, I’ve learned a couple other things about myself the past two days. I feed off of drama. Not like high school girl-boy drama, but just activity. Something going array, tension in a friendship, misunderstanding in the work place-whatever it may be, I feed off of that. My sister called this out in me last night, and backed it up with a quote. “It’s okay to be happy with a calm life.” What? A *calm* life? Calm is equivalent to boring, in my mind. If something isn’t stirring in the pot, I grow restless, longing for something to happen. I realized that’s one of the driving forces as to why I drink. I know that without fail, action will occur. Something will happen and my life will be far from boring. I’m addicted to adrenaline.
In one of my groups today, the therapist led all of the patients in hypnotherapy. We did a muscle relaxation exercise. By the end of the exercise, I was even more tense, uncomfortable, and stressed. Peace is not normal for me. Peace takes me into a realm of self awareness, mindfulness, and facing the reality of the present. Dwelling in uncertainty gives me the freedom to stress about employment, the financial crisis I’m stumbling into because I’m spending thousands of dollars to be here in rehab, recovering. (totally worth it, but overwhelmingly stressful.) Uncertainty is my excuse to not let go, and yet just typing that out draws my attention to just how lousy of an excuse that truly is.
I’m learning about myself with fresh eyes. All these issues that are coming to surface- you better believe I’m going to be fighting to the death to conquer them. As real and powerful as feelings are, I am not going to let that stop me from pursuing truth and forcing myself to recognize that peace and authenticity is necessary to be whole. I don’t know how, but I’m working on taking the masks down. Jesus must think I’m pretty silly to cover up the beautiful creation He tells me I am.