Welcome to Wonderful You Wednesday at My Life as a Trimommy. This is an ongoing series where I will have a post by myself or a guest that focuses on body image and self esteem. This week's post is written by one of my Trakkers teammates, Andree. Be sure to check out her blog, Andree's Double Brick.
Presidents always seem to be popular, there are the traditional Frankenstein and other scary creatures, Sci-Fi characters and villains….the thing about Masks though, is we wear them more often than just on Halloween. In fact, I don’ t think there is a person out there who does not, or has not worn a “ mask” at some point in their lives. A Mask is what you would think, a cover, be it a physical one or an emotional one. There are times when it is easier to hide behind a mask rather than to show one’ s true self. A problem arises though when we wear Masks too often and for too long and develop a repertoire of multiple Masks for multiple situations.
Wearing a Mask isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We do it for protection, for preservation - to preserve our emotional self. But again, if we wear them too often we start to lose the understanding of who our “ true self” actually is.
Johnny Diaz, a Christian singer (brother to Atlanta Braves player Matt Diaz for those Atlanta fans reading…) sings a song, “ More Beautiful You” . It focuses on teenage girls trying to fit in by changing the way their age, clothing, body size, in order to fit in and (supposedly) feel better about themselves. These are Masks covering up the “ more beautiful you” inside. Adolescents may be singled out as the group who tries to conform,
but children and adults do this as well.
I watched this week’s episode of The Good Wife, and in a scene toward the end the brother of Alicia (the calm, somewhat stoic main character) called her “ Two-Faced.” She denied the claim, but her stoicism amidst experiencing personal pain is a Mask to cover up any sadness or hurt.
As I mentioned, wearing Masks at times can be healthy; it protects us from hurt, and in certain situations is beneficial. Have you ever gone to work in the morning while experiencing a personally difficult situation? To have a “ melt down” at work may not be the most appropriate, so we put on our Brave Mask, suck it up for awhile and forge ahead. But we need to take it off at the end of the day.
Showing our True Self can be very difficult. It is like opening up your body, exposing your heart and saying to the world “ have at it” . This definitely takes practice, and it is easier to do with whom those we feel closest.
I am certainly not immune to Mask wearing, and I speak based on experience. I have thought at times I could make it on Broadway with the performances I put on. Again, fear of rejection, and not being good enough is often the driving factor.
In what situations do I wear a Mask? Primarily to cover feelings of sadness. Sharing my true feelings would mean too much exposure-too much risk. A prime example is when I have had a serious injury. I spent the first half of this year being unable to run. During this time there were periods when I was down-really down. But, I felt I couldn’ t show that because it would be a sign of weakness. As much as I wanted to tell my closest friends my inner feelings (I would even run through the conversations in my head), when the time came, I couldn’ t do it. I would wear my “ Tough Mask” and stuff my real feelings inside. Even we therapists don’ t always practice what we preach!
Stepping out of the door without our Masks can be very hard sometimes; it takes doing it in baby steps-one small situation at a time.
I have found though that training for and competing in triathlons has been one of the best activities to help me take off the Masks. I feel comfortable in this arena, “ braver” emotionally, and more willing to put myself out there for all to see. I think that sports and competition in general can do this for people. Look at the faces of people during sports competition - raw emotion! Pretty difficult to find the energy to wear a Mask when
you’ re giving 100% of your energy to your sport.