My life has consisted of masks. Wearing masks handed to me by others, original family members, friends, those I was in relationships with. Wearing masks handed to me, by me.
These masks had been presented to me with instruction manuals, moral codes, scripts and expectations surrounding money, prestige, perfectionism, criticism and judgment of myself and others.
I learned all the lines. I knew all the tricks.
I played the roles asserted by the masks for many, many years…
As a child, I played the quiet one; the one who didn’t cause trouble; the people pleaser.
As a teen, I was the good student, the popular one, the one who partied.
As an adult, living in the biggest house, driving the newest car, taking the best vacations; portraying the perfect family and children; living in judgment of myself, but more ashamedly, others.
Nowhere, in any of this, was my true inner self, my core self, ever acknowledged, discovered or simply allowed to be. I was covered in the masks handed down to me, handed down to me.
And, I willingly agreed and accepted all the masks and their associated roles without question.
Then I turned 43.
Suddenly, none of the masks seemed to fit anymore. I was buried and no longer able to breathe. I had no idea who I was or who I had ever been. I only knew how to play the roles handed me.
I was screaming inside. I knew these masks like the back of my hand, and yet, they felt like strangers. I felt like a stranger.
I was no longer able to bear the weight of the instruction manuals and all their moral codes. The scripts were now written in foreign languages, the expectations unattainable.
I had spent years molding myself into a template, forcing my life to meet another’s desire, trying, and succeeding, to change and suppress the natural flow of who I inherently was.
I was exhausted from paddling upstream. I was broken with frustration and self-oppression. I knew I could no longer continue on this same path, yet I remained frozen.
I filed for divorce. I walked away from the family, friendships, and relationships with those from whom I had gathered the masks.
I set out on a journey to find myself; to see what was underneath all the role playing; to uncover who I inherently was.
As each mask was torn off, I discovered something new; something revolutionary, radical, unique, important, worthy about myself; something I had not known before.
It was invigorating and frightening at the same time. I felt exposed and courageous, vulnerable and fierce. I was unstoppable.
Yet, as there were so many things I no longer believed about myself, it was hard to find anything to believe in.
I kept digging. I kept searching. I kept removing the masks until I could find no more.
Each level brought more knowledge, deeper understanding and greater insight.
But, I knew I still wasn’t “there.” I wasn’t in a place of true understanding, true peace. I started to wonder if I ever would be; if maybe this was as far as I would go; if maybe the masks were all I would ever know.
And then, I realized one last mask remained. The mask that had been telling me I “should” have this figured out, I “should” have completed this journey by now, I “should” have not asked for more. The mask of should…should know, should understand, should be at peace.
I was, again, exhausted, frustrated and feeling oppressed from the very thing I was trying to free myself of…masks.
I needed to release this quest of removing masks. I needed to stop forcing my healing, stop paddling upstream to “get there.”
I was tired of healing. My energy was gone. I was again frozen.
I stopped digging. I stopped searching. I stopped trying. I just stopped.
I decided to “be” for a while; to remove the pressure of finding understanding and peace; to simply be.
That’s when it all finally made sense. When the masks were off and the “shoulds” gone, when I allowed myself to simply “be,” I was left with the only thing that had ever mattered, the one thing I had kept from myself all along…
I was left with love.
At the bottom of it all was love.
Pure, exquisite, unconditional love.
I was standing in love, surrounded by love, had been created from love.
The masks, instruction manuals and moral codes are now gone. The scripts, expectations and “should” are no longer.
I am now one thing and one thing only…love.
I am love.