Mental Health Awareness Month
The definition of a mask: a disguise to cover up the face.
Why do people feel the need to hide themselves from the world?
For countless people, before they step outside to start their day, they choose to arm themselves with a mask. This process automatically puts their brain into protection mode. You surround yourself with this invisible bubble of safety. The mind shifts to a place where everything is guarded.
Why do you not want others to see who you really are? What are you so desperately hiding?
These are great questions that you should be asking yourself if you are living in darkness behind that mask of shame.
As you march forward, the mask thickens with many layers sugar coating the reality of all that harbors underneath. Silent thoughts, “Do not look me in the eye as you may get a glimpse of the reality hidden so perfectly, tucked away beneath the iron clad wall of pain.”
As the years pass, countless covers overlay one another forming a thick surface that refuses to budge, hardening, tightening until you feel suffocated by the harsh reality of life. You are now lost in between the lines of disaster waiting to unfold as the grip is faltering at the seams, boiling up, and getting ready to burst.
You hold on for dear life, fighting tooth and nail to keep that mask secured so tightly, that nobody will ever see the truth that lies beneath your sweat-soaked coverings. As your shaking soul quivers, breaking down, head drooped, completely saddened by the unspoken words written on the notepad inside your mind. You are totally lost in a time warp of the past.
As the soul withers in the darkness, it scrambles to seek the light. That inner spirit does not want to be suppressed any longer. Ultimately, it wants to abandon this life of silent hell, refusing to succumb to the madness any longer. The silent whispers are calling out to you, begging to be set free only to be subdued for a moment, and then pounding back in your ears. This is silent but deafening at the same time, “I need to be FREE!”
“Help me say the words out loud” – “I know you hear me.”
Our souls do speak to us!
Now, take a step back for a moment and really think about this scenario going on inside your mind. As you read this passage above, what do you feel?
I say all the above!
When children and young adults go through abuse, trauma, or neglect, they start to collect these masks along the way. Daily, they work so hard to hide everything that they are feeling inside, so nobody will ever see. What makes sense in the moments of survival is to cover it all up and pretend it is not happening.
Some people do this out of fear or shame. Others will do this out of some misguided loyalty or duty. Many will do this because they do not want to be labeled different or damaged. That wanting to be accepted, overrides all rational thoughts.
The common denominator to all of this is people have a huge fear of not being believed or validated! The brave ones that have had the courage to step up and say the words out loud, have been ridiculed and shut down by the non-believers, and naysayers. These actions send a disturbing message to the brain of warning signals to remain silent at all costs. Time to build up your masks.
As we grow older, the mask becomes a dysfunctional security blanket hiding the hideous unspoken truths from the world. Moving forward onto adulthood, it is apparent that these battles scars overflow into everyday life, and we step forward with much discomfort, anxiety, and sometimes paranoia. The pains of the past are secretly controlling our every move as its insidious hold claims all that is good and turns it into a pile of rubble.
How long should we allow the past to claim our future? For some people, it’s a life time of silent hell, living in between two worlds at the same time. It is like a coo-coo clock’s pendulum swinging back and forth to the rhythm of a dysfunctional beat.
I say it is TIME to switch it up, turn back those hands of time, and let it all flow. Slowly bring up those old pains to the surface one by one looking it in the eye and facing it once and for all.
Make the choice to do the work and break down each mask as it shatters to the floor. Piece by piece you can rectify the wrongs of the past by claiming your life back, reminding yourself, you are in control.
How do we make this happen?
Do we need support to overcome it?
Is therapy effective?
Yes, therapy is effective when you find the right fit.
You can overcome the past, if you are honest with yourself.
The work that you will do is going to be very hard, and some masks are much thicker than others. You will need a strong mindset, a lot of determination and courage with a big dash of faith. Tell yourself over and over again, you can do this. You must become your own personal cheerleader of encouragement.
Grab your journals and get to work!
The first step is to start at the beginning and make your way forward. I always encourage people to write it all down. Purchase a journal, and start at the beginning. Writing is for you, and only you, so there are no mistakes.
When you are done writing, read back your thoughts, stories and memories. Work on making peace with each one. Your journal will become your bible during this time of your life, as you seek the answers you have always been looking for.
Read – Re-Read – Embrace – Let Go
As the masks release one by one, you will feel a sense of freedom that you have never felt before. It is a glorious, profound moment when earth and air meet with a total cleansing like a new fallen rain with dew drops of emotions popping one by one, as the sun shines through the clouded waters.
If you are ready to take this journey of awakening, seek out positive support and make a strong game plan for yourself. This is a process, so you cannot go from A-Z in a moment. You must take all the steps, do not skip a beat.
Slow and steady wins the race.
You will never know if you can do this for yourself if you do not start somewhere, so the best place to start is the beginning. Once you start to do your self-work and become stronger, shift your gears towards focus on the win! The stronger you become is the prize that you will gain, as you walk forward in your life. The abuser does not get to win at this game called life, you do! The best revenge is living a full life despite the abuse, pain, and shame.
The forgiveness that so many doctors, professionals, and spiritual leaders speak of actually comes from within. Remember you are in control now, and as the healing continues, the hatred fades.
Will you ever forget what happened to you?
The answer is NO, but it will finally have a resting place, and you will be the only one able to access it if you need to go there.
Throughout life there will always be those pings, triggers, and sadness attached to those masks, but once you have a better understanding of yourself, you will learn how to deal with them in a positive way.
Purpose for pain.
It is ok to have your moments (because you will). During those times, remind yourself to embrace those triggers with this new found knowledge, that those past pains are only a part of you who you are. The more that you know yourself, the better equipped you will be to offer self-soothing supports during these difficult times.
As you face those triggers with courage, allow them to flow through you, feel it. If the tears want to flow, allow it, reminding yourself that even though it feels awful, you are still in control because you have the ability to let it go. You have now become the playmaker of your own story.
The silence is now being broken as the masks are crashing to the floor. Make sure you celebrate the breaking of this vicious cycle, as you shine brightly in light of day.
No more masks, they have now faded away.
Embrace the journey and continue to take your steps forward with strength and conviction.
“The law is reason free from passion” Aristotle
Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study of practice of law, and of life. It is with passion, courage of conviction, and a strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct. You must always have faith in people, and most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.
Elle Woods – Legally Blond