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Painting a New Life

Musings of the Day

Living Behind a Mask

Hear this read aloud below

It began when I was a child...

the fear of being seen.

When I dared to be myself I was either dismissed, judged, ridiculed or put in my place. No one around me wanted what I had to offer. So I learned to wear a mask of acceptability…with a touch of rebellion on the side. I learned where the line was when my rebellious nature would get me in more trouble than I could manage. I was hurt and angry behind that mask, but no one seemed to notice or care because I was invisible.

That seems like a lifetime ago, but the mask became a permanent part of my persona. I wasn’t aware that I was still wearing until it began to suffocate me. I realized that I was dying behind that mask. The beauty I had to share, the essence of my soul, was cut off from others. More importantly I cut if off from myself. I lived as if I was who they said I was, not who I was in my heart and soul. It took years of courageous work to peel that mask away and be willing to be seen for who I am.

Looking into my own eyes in the painting “Re-Membering My Self” by DK Hillard

And Now...

It struck me just yesterday talking to a friend, that my experience of the actual mask I wear now due to Covid, feels similar to the sense of isolation I felt behind my invisible one. Now I’m protecting myself physically, but the sense of isolation has returned. How can anyone really see me now? How can I truly connect when I’m living behind an actual mask?

The invisible one, the one that no one knew I was wearing, is gone. I honestly feel like I can be myself now. The truth is that I am experiencing an urgency to be real, to share my gifts and my heart, now more than ever. Isn’t it ironic that after all these years when I’m finally feeling ready to be myself, here I am hidden behind another mask? Believe me, I’m not taking it off. I’m not in any way saying we shouldn’t be wearing them. Quite the contrary. What I am saying is that the sense of isolation I feel behind that mask is real, just like the isolation I lived with all my life. When I can’t see someone’s facial expression, when I can’t emote with my own smile or frown and when I can’t reach out and touch someone else for fear of disease, then how can I feel anything other than isolated?

This is one of those situations where I have to work with my mind to make up a new story about what this means. I have to look at the situation and see it with different eyes. Here’s what I see looking from a new vantage point.

What I learned...

I wasn’t aware that my old mask was gone until I had to live behind a new one, a physical one. I hadn’t acknowledged all of my growth and courage from years of inner work, work that enabled me to shed the false beliefs about myself that said I was unacceptable the way I was.

Most of all I now see how essential it is for me (and for us all) to truly connect with one another, to be fully SEEN for who we truly are.

My hope is that one day we will not have to wear our physical masks to be safe, but in the meantime taking off our invisible masks is still an option. It is more essential now than ever.

Finding ways to be ourselves and connect with others, to be seen for who we are, and to share our unique gifts will help heal the pain of isolation. Here is an opportunity for increased awareness, not hiding our light.

Connection…real, authentic, soul to soul connection…that is the real medicine we need now.

We can still be fully ourselves. We can still connect with others and be safe. We can turn our attention to being real with ourselves, aware and present, nurturing and loving. Perhaps by doing so we will be contributing to the healing of the planet, of humanity and of our own souls.

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