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Friday, January 26, 2007

Underneath The Mask

Sharing from my Daily OM (see link bar)

Uncover Your True Face
Underneath the Mask

Many of us know the feeling of being stuck in a particular role within our families, as if we are wearing masks whenever we see the people we love. Maybe we are the good daughters, expected to always please others, or perhaps we are the family clowns, expected to be jovial and make everyone laugh. This same scenario can play out within a work situation or a group of friends. We may be so good at our role that we hardly even notice that we are wearing a mask, and yet, deep down, we know that we are not free to simply be who we really are. This can leave us feeling unseen and uneasy.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wearing a mask or playing a role. It is a natural part of any social dynamic and it can even be creative and fun. It only becomes a problem when you feel that you have no other choice than to wear that mask, and this is especially challenging if you realize you are never without one. Perhaps you have forgotten who you really are—a vast and unrestricted being of light—and have identified yourself completely with a role. You may be the dutiful, caring son who keeps his parents’ dysfunctional marriage intact. You may be the angelic wife who enables your husband to continue on a destructive path. You may be the cheerful daughter to a deeply depressed mother. Whatever the case, knowing the motivation behind your performance—the function of your mask—can help to uncover your true face.

Anytime we find ourselves stuck behind a mask, it is an indication that we are entangled in a dysfunctional dynamic in which our true self cannot be seen. We have been placed in this situation for the purpose of our own healing and, in some cases, the healing of others. From this perspective, life can be seen as a series of situations that call us to remove our masks—gently, and with great compassion for all concerned—to reveal the beauty underneath.

I've worn a few masks in my day. I still do when it comes to my mother.


Emily said...

I loved this piece about the masks. I feel like I wear various masks a lot.

Wearing them isn't always bad. When being with a particular person gives us such an urge towards self-protection, then maybe the mask is all they deserve to see.

Fiona said...

maybe the mask is all they deserve to see

That is so very true Emily, I hadn't thought of it from that perspective. Thank you.

Sunny Delight said...

masks or roles....so many upon my shelf of self....in recent years I have tried to unmask for those important in my life. There have been a few that have accepted the unmasked me, others it made them too uncomfortable...they prefer the masked me....and in some ways emily is correct the mask is protection for us, but also perhaps those that only want to see our mask too.

I keep imagining all those masks flowing together becoming one.

Fiona said...

shelf of self what a beautiful description!!

The one I hated wearing the most, but didn't know how to take off for too long, was the happy smiling face when I was dying inside.

Thank goodness there are some we can retire forever onto that shelf of self!!

Fusion said...

I feel I wore a couple of masks while married, my wife most definitly did. And yes, I still wear one of them now, but I'm taking it off one person at a time as I talk to them about my relationship I really had with my wife, in fact I told another friend today and every time I tell someone the mask falls away a little farther. Soon I hope to never wear it again, we'll see.

Fiona said...

fusion - it's so very freeing to be able to stop wearing them, isn't it!

And sometimes we're so good at wearing them, that we really do take people by surprise when they come off.

May you continue to find the true you.

Miranda said...

This is a really good post. I too have worn many masks, played many roles. Always doing what was expected. But the last few years I think I've let my mask off shocking them all, leaving them wondering, why is she behaving like this.

Matt Kohai said...

I have a work mask - and that's really about it. I'm not into being anything than me. It's just plain easier that way... One could argue Matt Kohai is a mask, but it isn't, not any more than putting on a pair of dorky glasses would make me Clark Kent.

Steve said...

so true... this was written so perfectly, Fiona... THANKS

Jonas said...

As every mask falls away, we find a more beautiful face beneath...let the masks fall!

chele said...

Fusion I can totally relate to your post. Thanks for sharing!

Fiona I'm glad to see the REAL happy you..its a joy to me!

LePhare said...

You're making me think again.

Can't you get back to food? It's been ages since you posted on my second favourite subject;-)

Anonymous said...

There have been many posts I've read over the last few days that have hit me pretty hard. This being one of them.

I obviously have a mask I wear in my marriage. I hope I have the courage to one day soon get rid of it.

I still remember my sister telling me about six months ago "you don't know who you are anymore do you?" She said about a month or so ago "I see the sister I remember. I'm glad you found her."

Thank you Fiona :)


freebird said...

This post is amazing, Fi, and so relevant to me right now. How did you know?!

Fiona said...

I'm SO glad everyone enjoyed this post....and I'm even more glad I decided to share it.

If you haven't subscribed to OM then I encourage you to. Some days it's all a little, well, a little too out there for me. But there are occasions when the words just grab me by the throat.

I've spend a fair amount of time examining my 'shelf of self' and revisiting those masks I have put there forever. Some brought back a hurt so deep I had trouble catching my breath.

But at the end of my self-examination, I know I'm in a better place, I know I'm happy, I know I survived intact.

Sally-Sal said...

You came out on the other side, Fi.

I think the most beautiful part of it all is the love in your life. Great love, the kind that lasts a lifetime. Just you, him, skin-to-skin with nothing but love between you...

Fiona said...

Oh Sally....it really is the most incredible chapter of my life. And a chapter which I want to lead into other chapters right up to the end of my book.

And yes!!!! Just you, him, skin-to-skin with nothing but love between you... That is at the core of both of us. That connection. We call it being 'home'.

Thank you for this.

anna said...

Like many others have commented, I can also relate. Sometimes the freedom of removing the mask is not worth the price.


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