The Mask
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Who Am I?

Don't be fooled by me. Don't be fooled by the face I wear.

For I wear a mask, I wear a thousand masks, masks that I'm afraid to take off, and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that's second nature to me, but don't be fooled; for God's sake, don't be fooled.

I give you the impression that I am secure, that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without, that confidence is my name and coolness is my game, that the water's calm and I'm in command, and that I need no one. But don't believe me. Please.

My surface may be smooth, but my surface is my mask, my varying and ever-concealing mask.

Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.

Beneath it dwells the real me. in confusion and fear, in aloneness, but I hide this, I don't want anybody to know it.

That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind, a nonchalant, sophisticated facade, to help me pretend, to shield me from the glance that knows. But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only salvation. And I know it, that is if it's followed by acceptance, if it is followed by love.

It is the only thing that can liberate me, from myself, from my own self-hate, from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.

It is the only thing that will assure me of what I can't assure myself, that I'm really worth something.

But I don't tell you this, I don't dare, I'm afraid to.

I'm afraid that your glance will not be followed by love.

I'm afraid that you'll think less of me, that you'll laugh.

And your laugh would kill me.

I'm afraid that deep down I'm nothing, that I'm just no good, and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, with a facade of assurance without and trembling within.

And so begins the parade of masks, the glittering but empty masks.

And my life becomes a front.

I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.

I tell you everything that's really nothing, and nothing of what's everything, of what's crying within me.

So, when I'm going through my routine, please don't be fooled by what I'm saying. Please listen carefully, and try to hear what I'm not saying, and what I'd like to be able to say, what for survival I need to say, but what I can't say.

Honestly, I dislike the superficial game I'm playing, the superficial phony game; I'd really like to be genuine and spontaneous and me -- but you've got to help me. You've got to hold out your hand even when that's the last thing I seem to want or need.

Only you can wipe away from my eyes that blank stare of the breathing dead.

Only you can call me into aliveness.

Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging, each time you try to understand because you really care, my heart begins to grow wings, very small wings, very feeble wings, but wings.

With your sensitivity and sympathy, and your power of understanding, you can breathe life into me, I want you to know that.

I want you to know how important you are to me, how you can be a creator of the person that's in me if you choose to. Please choose to.

You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble, you alone can remove my mask, you alone can release me from my lonely prison.

So do not pass me by. Please don't pass me by. It will not be easy for you.

A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.

The nearer you approach me, the more blindly I may strike back.

It's irrational, but despite what the book says about man, I'm irrational. I fight against the very thing I cry out for. But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls.

In this lies my hope, my only hope.

Please try to beat down these walls with firm hands, but with gentle hands, for a child is very sensitive.

"Who am I?", you may wonder.

I am someone you know very well.

I am every man you meet.

I am every woman you meet.

- The Twelve Steps of Phobics Anonymous

Unfortunately, other people can't perfectly love us.  They will eventually let us down.  We have discovered that.  But Jesus Christ of Nazareth won't let us down.  He can heal the original trauma that caused this state of affairs.  Go to this page to see how.  How did we get this way? Go to this page to see how.