The Recovering Farmer

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Mask

As is often the case, I seem to see, read, or latch on to certain information that really needs to be part of my last blog. Why is that? Is it that the information is a day late and a dollar short? Or is that type of information always available but I only notice when I focus on a certain topic? I have no idea. Not sure it matters.

I spoke last week of a secret life that many of us live. I mentioned certain things about my upbringing, my background, and even the church life I have had. I mentioned some “gifts” my mother had in making me talk. I had certain responses to my blog which I always appreciate. These responses make me write the next one even if my mind and body say NO. At times, quite frankly, it is a chore. And yet a chore that makes me feel better. Better because I have put pen to paper and expressed or clarified certain thoughts. Yet I was haunted by some of the responses. It was not meant to be a diatribe about my mother, the church I once belonged to, or any other crap I might still be carrying with me.

So I felt I needed to build on what I had written. I used the example of guilt not as the focus or topic of my narrative. Rather it was used to provide a stepping stone to a secret life many of us have. Not one that should create guilt, not one that was created by guilt, although that may be debated because often guilt, rightly or wrongly, drives us to a secret life. I realized there might have been certain thoughts that were coming to the surface that might not be helpful. Not portray what I wanted to portray. After all, I need to be helpful. God forbid I post anything that is not helpful. God forbid I post anything that might question me, my life, or my issues. (tongue firmly planted in my cheek)

This morning I received a link to an article from one of my colleagues. It tells the story of a person’s struggle with losing a child to sudden infant death syndrome. I cannot relate to that and never want to. Not convinced I could deal with it. What struck me about this story is the comment the counsellor made. He said; “The mask she wore for the world was carefully constructed and effective”. (Patrick O’Malley, The New York Times)

That reiterates my point of leading a secret life. We put on a mask. We are good at it. We can fool most everyone, perhaps even ourselves. But do we???

Many of us experience pain as we live life. That pain may come from the past, it may come from a recent experience, or it may be a culmination of many experiences. Who knows and who cares. All we know is that we are feeling pain, a pain that overwhelms our life. And that is where we often try to fool the people around us. Our friends, our family, or the ones we work with. It sucks to have to share what really bothers us. So we put on a mask.

When and where do we address what really needs addressing? We have an innate desire to fix what befalls us. However, through all of this, we often kid ourselves. We can put on this false front, we can kid ourselves into thinking we don’t have problems, we can even fool ourselves into thinking it is others that have the problems.

As the quote above suggests, many of us put on a mask. At certain points in our daily lives many of us try to portray something that is not accurate. Sometimes we need to do that, other times we need to understand that there is a secret life that, very simply, is not fun anymore. At that point we need to take off the mask and deal with life honestly. There are ways of doing that. The first step is to talk. It will help. Make it a good one.

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