Yesterday I referenced another great blog and I have been very excited to spend some time reflecting on what I read. It is from "The Actual Pastor" ..whose post I found through my sister-in-law's, friend's Facebook page post....go figure.
He talks about how when as a child he was ridiculed and teased at school and how he began to mask his vulnerability to being hurt ( blog post April 29, 2013) After all, didn't we all get told: "Don't let people see that they have gotten to you!"; "Just laugh it off"; "Suck it up buttercup!"
"...you are not sure who to be anymore, or what to do. We just know we never want to be rejected like that again. So we create masks that protect our actual and vulnerable selves, projecting an image that seems more sturdy and less susceptible to trauma.....The problem is that the longer we wear these masks, the more fused to our actual selves they become, and it becomes harder and harder to see and know what’s real and what’s not."
I find some of my masks are very heavy. The work ones are by far the heaviest. At work I must appear successful and knowledgeable, but also have patience and diplomacy as I lead union employees in a climate of increasing outsourcing, ridiculously rapid technological change and lack of confidence in our leadership. I call it my cheerleader mask. Have you ever been a cheerleader? No? Well I can tell you it is exhausting...so thank God I can take it off at night. After work came mommy mask (which encompasses domestic goddess, tutor, driver, and dog walker and expert belly scratcher). No mask on? Well that is no one....and no one deserves a break...she's just a no one.
Now that I am not working I am able to take a peek under these masks ---and see what is underneath. They have been such a big part of me---and with being such a fantastic barrier against vulnerability,it has been a real challenge to even decide if I want to consider taking a good look at what they are, how they got there and if I want them off .
My therapist tells me it is a choice. These masks have served me well and brought success after success in my career and home. So I have to choose whether I want to take them off. She sees I am scared...hence all the crying that happens in these sessions as I thrash about like a two year old having a temper tantrum "I don't like all these feelings! Why is everything so out of control!" when I know she is right and I know that by masking my vulnerability I am masking ALL feelings. This includes joy, happiness, pride, love, trust, --all things important to making connections in our lives --to ourselves and others.
Tomorrow I am going to spend some time looking at the three masks of vulnerability as described by Brené Brown and posted in the Actual Pastor's blog, Each one merits some in depth review on my part and as excited as I am to write about this, I need to slow down and take my time.....
What sort of masks do you put on? Do you have different ones for different times? One for times with family? When you are at work? With your spouse or significant other? Good friends? Not so good friends? Your kids?