Behind The Mask
I was entangled in a dysfunctional family dynamic as a little girl and heard these words:
“sit down and shut up,”
“children should be seen and not heard,”
“stop asking so many questions,”
“just go somewhere sit down and be quiet.”
Hearing these words so often as a little girl were very hurtful to say the least. I learned to manage by shrinking and so I kept quiet - kept to myself, and stopped asking questions. I also became this cheerful daughter on the outside desperately wanting nothing more than to please her Mom, no matter what. As you can imagine, being in this situation was confusing and learning how to find a balance was challenging.
How could I fix something that I didn’t understand? Was this my responsibility to fix? Was it me, was I unwanted or unloved? The answers to these questions would take years to surface.
Little did I realize the impact these words would have on me mentally and emotionally for years to come. Growing up, I was shy and introverted. I was too afraid to speak up to my teachers or even tell my parents when I was bullied. I had learned to keep quiet and keep up the appearance that everything was fine. This behavior led me to hide behind a mask of delusion I described as, “I’m Fine."
I learned to hide a lot of shame, hurt, and pain behind this mask as a means of protection and to please others. From being bullied as a young child to being molested by a relative, and as an adult with failed marriages— I hid all the hurt, shame, and pain behind my mask. The problem is that I became so good at wearing a mask, yet deep down, I was not free to be the real me. I felt unseen and uneasy around family and friends. I learned to keep family and friends at a distance for years, and yet oddly enough, it was encouragement from them, a word here and there planting seeds, that stayed with me.
It was just last year I found myself at a crossroads in my life. I was so tired of going through the motions, feeling stuck, and not really living life. I was in search of a breakthrough and I experienced what I’ve heard people talk about: when you trust and ask the universe, the universe will answer you. I was gifted enrollment in an experiential training course that provided the tools I needed for my breakthrough.
I learned that as good as I thought my mask was, others could see how guarded, unhappy and hurt I was. I had become a victim of my past and had forgotten who I was created to be. I forgot about my dreams and my desires. I had been hiding behind a mask for so long that I forgot about me. I had become such a people-pleaser that I lost sight of me and that I mattered. I had to acknowledge that in order to stop hiding behind the mask I needed to face my truths. Speaking the truth, my story of past hurts was painful, and I shed many tears. I cried like never before, but the release and relief of letting it out felt as if all those years of holding on to the hurt and pain were melting away. My past no longer defined me nor dictated what I can accomplish in life.
I learned that I could be vulnerable, authentic, loving and speak my truth unapologetically.
There are many paths to a breakthrough and it’s important to keep searching to find what works best for you. Being patient, open, honest, and willing to trust the process, whatever that might be, is key to the success of your breakthrough.
I found myself surrendering by allowing my heart to break open for my breakthrough. I made a conscious decision to be open and stop hiding. I realized that I had the courage all along to remove the mask, stand in my truth, own my story and create a new story by choosing me. I had to be the number one priority in my life. No more shame, no more being a victim, no more feeling less than, no more feeling unworthy, no more feeling unloved. I acknowledged the truth and let it go and most importantly found self-love, which is the greatest gift of all.
Written by Robin C. Brown
Robin created a blog PrettyBirdsong to inspire, uplift, and empower women. Over the years, she struggled and hid behind a mask to hide her hurt and pain from past experiences. She explored various means of self-expression - art, music, movement and self-improvement courses, but is was writing that became a consistent way for her to express what she could not utter verbally. It is through writing that she found courage.