As I was contemplating Halloween this morning, I began to ponder the many different masks I have worn throughout my life. Until a few years ago, I needed the masks; I was uncertain who I was or what my purpose in this lifetime could possibly be. I was wandering, searching to find myself and trying on different visages to see if maybe, just maybe that next one would provide me with what I needed.
The masks were very successful for me in several ways. I was able to shut myself off from authentic relationships with others. They worked in much the same way that smoking and drinking did – to build a wall that protected me from the scary and chaotic world around me. I have always been very sensitive and so for a good many years, when I didn’t know how to deal with this hypersensitivity, the best way to feel protected was to create shields and to even pretend that I was someone that I wasn’t. It wasn’t a complete sham. I was still Janet, and I had a big heart and I could show a lot of love to others, but only so long as I didn’t have to expose too much of myself.
Being afraid to unveil myself led me to stay in jobs that were unfulfilling and kept me from pursuing my true loves – healing and writing. The mask of student kept me studying long past the need to in just about everything I have ever approached. The need to be the consummate learner has held me back more times than I have digits to count. The mask of bartender showed a tough veneer and an ability to cuss and throw back a lot of alcohol and drugs with the biggest and baddest of them. I was tough. Seasoned. A survivor. The later mask of server was that of victim, to myself mostly. “If only I could figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I could get out of this place and not be treated so horribly by others.”
Along the way, doors opened that showed me glimpses of the life I am now leading. I started healing and learning about energy, and I got work as a writer. I met amazing women that showed me what authenticity looks like. I began to toy with the idea of just being honestly and openly me, without any pretense or need to judge what I might look like to others. It took me a long time to do it, and there are times when I’ll still come across something that is fighting to stay hidden. When this happens, I usually kick and scream with it for a while before finally giving in to it. Keeping it all in never really served me. It just caused a lot of pain for myself and others and led me to make decisions that weren’t in my highest good.
I wear not only my heart but my whole self on my sleeve these days. Sometimes it’s difficult as not everyone operates in the same manner. It is fulfilling though. It cuts down on a lot of anxiety and fear, and it is a lot easier to manage because I don’t have to worry about keeping my stories straight. I just am what I am. As a result, masks feel really uncomfortable to me these days. It feels a little hard to breathe under all that and it can start to itch like a rash. Without the mask, I am much more clear and my vision is sharper. Sometimes, I feel radiant even. It is so nice to be able to breathe, and it is even nicer to be able to shine.