Behind the Mask

 

For most of my life I’ve lived behind a mask.

I wasn’t allowed to be myself so I created this persona that was acceptable. My family would not accept who I was, and I tried to make myself believe that this “mask” was truly me. Just to keep them happy. I never let them see me. Sometimes the mask would slip and they would get angry, claiming that I wasn’t being myself. They said I was just trying to get attention or trying to “fit in” with whatever the “secular world” wanted.

Once I started working and was away from people that “knew” me, I tried taking my mask off. I was amazed that people liked me. They liked me for who I was. They didn’t need me to meet certain requirements before they would accept me.

On my own, I started to make friends, real friends that would be there for me no matter what. My mother said they didn’t know the real me. There was no way these people would want to be my friends, or that my boyfriend would want to date me, or that anyone would want to accept me or like me if they knew the “real” me. Why could I never tell her that she was one of the only people that didn’t know the real me?

I didn’t change myself to make people like me. They liked me because I let them see who I truly am.

Because I kept that mask for so many years I still haven’t been able to let it go. I still use it when I meet new people. I feel protected behind it. It’s a shield I can use to keep my real, vulnerable self safe. Having something ingrained into my head for too many years keeps the self-doubt around. I still sometimes think that it was a weird fluke that I was able to make such amazing friends, be blessed with a wonderful boyfriend.

But give me a chance, stick around and wait it out and my mask will come down.

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