A long one today, but stick with it as it conveys me in a nutshell pre-sobriety, and I know plenty of other people…… This was given to me by a therapist who knew that it was me – thank you.
THE MASK I WEAR
Don’t be fooled by me, Don’t be fooled by the face I wear. For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks – masks that I’m afraid to take off and none of them are me. Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me but don’t be fooled, for God’s sake, don’t be fooled. I give you the impression that I’m secure, That all is sunny and unruffled with me within as well as without, that confidence is my name and coolness is my game, that the water’s calm and I’m in command, and that I need no one. But don’t believe me. Please!
My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask, My ever-varying and ever-concealing mask. Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence. Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness. But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it. I panic at the thought of my weaknesses and fear of exposing them. That’s why I frantically create my masks to hide behind. They’re nonchalant, sophisticated facades to help me pretend, To shield me from the glance that knows. But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only salvation, and I know it.
That is, if it’s followed by acceptance, and if it’s followed by love. It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself from my own self-built prison walls.
I dislike hiding, honestly, I dislike the superficial game I’m playing, the superficial phony game. I’d really like to be genuine and me. But I need your help, your hand to hold. Even though my masks would tell you otherwise; That glance from you is the only thing that assures me of what I can’t assure myself, that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare. I’m afraid to. I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh and your laugh would kill me. I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing, that I’m just no good and you will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game. With a façade of assurance without, and a trembling child within. So begins the parade of masks.
The glittering but empty parade of masks, and my life becomes a front. I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk. I tell you everything that’s nothing and nothing of what’s everything, of what’s crying within me. So when I’m going through my routine do not be fooled by what I’m saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying. Hear what I’d like to say but what I can not say.
It will not be easy for you, long felt inadequacies make my defences strong. The nearer you approach me the blinder I may strike back. Despite what books say of men, I am irrational; I fight against the very thing that I cry out for. You wonder who I am, you shouldn’t for I am everyman and everywoman who wears a mask. Don’t be fooled by me. At least not by the mask I wear.