Monday, June 25, 2012

Who are you...really?

In order to write a graduate school entrance essay, I had to watch a film called Paris Je T'aime. It had several film vignettes on it. I was supposed to watch them all, pick one, and write an essay comparing the themes in the vignette to my own life story. 
She was wearing a mask.

The one that stood out to me the most was the one where the young woman was wearing a mask. She drops off her baby at a day care center. As she walks away, her baby starts to cry which prompts her to go back and sing a sweet lullaby to her child. As she sings, her face is alive and full of love. She is living "in the moment", loving and caring for her own flesh and blood. Her face radiates with the love that only a mother has for her child. 

However, a transformation happens in this woman's face as she leaves her child and travels on the subway to take care of her employer's baby. As she walks in to begin her job for the day, her employer's own baby is crying in the nursery. The look on the young woman's face is one of quiet resignation. She blankly slogs in to comfort the stranger's child. In fact, she sings the same song to this child that she sang to her own. But, as she sings, she stares out the window at the city with no emotional interaction with this stranger-child. The blankness is her mask. Only she knows what her mask is truly hiding, but it is hiding something. Probably the deep emotions at having to leave her child to go take care of another. This mask, though, prevents her from living in the moment with the child in her present care.

Are you familiar with that blank look? That "mask"? I am. I have felt it all too often, that look in my soul. The blankness that hides my true feelings and emotions. 

For me, the mask began latching itself to my face and my heart when I was very young. It masked my true self in circumstances where I felt that reflecting my true feelings and emotions would be threatening. The mask shielded my heart from not measuring up, from not feeling good enough, from not being good enough. 

The mask did protect me during the devastation of my parents' divorce, and the emotional turbulence surrounding that. However, in recent years I have realized that the facade I had been putting on to keep the peace in many situations and with certain people, had deadened a part of my soul.

I had been using the mask for far too long and it had taken its toll. Anxiety, depression and high blood pressure had become too close of companions, and I began searching for the underlying causes of these uninvited guests.

It has seemed like a glacial process, but with a trusted Christian counselor and trusted friends, I have been peeling off the mask to reveal the real me underneath it. This is showing the people around me a new self. My real self. Some like it, and some not so much. What is important for me is that I am no longer living behind a false-self mask. I have been realizing what I have been missing for all of my life....a heart fully present. I am discovering a mask-free self that I am at peace with. I am realizing that the co-dependent mask I wore for years to appease others in my world cost me my authenticity. The mask masked my own voice. It only allowed me to speak approving words to those around me, to the sheer detriment to my own heart.

Do you see the underlying truth here? 

Wear the mask----don't be true to self. LIve with discord in your soul, causing anxiety, fear and a host of other negative emotions to brew.

Peel off the mask--be true to yourself. Speak truthfully about yourself and what you need and want. Live in freedom. Live in joy and peace.

I have been meeting true freedom from mask-wearing and it is sweet! It has taken a lot of hard work, and the grace of God working in me and through me, but the real me is emerging. As I have spent time in God's presence, He has been faithful to reveal what's been behind my mask, and healing me. I am truly learning to rest in the great person he has made me to be, and detaching from my false self. 

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