Saturday, January 9, 2010

Facing Fear - Hiding Behind Masks

Masks - I'm sure we all have them.  Do you know what yours is?  You know, the "you" that you want the world to see.  I call it my "actress skills".   In my "old" life, I strove to be perfect.  From childhood, never ceasing.   Never relaxing.......always busy.....always striving...........but what was I really doing?  Hiding from my fear.  Hiding from my fear of failure.......but why?  Of course, we all have ties to our childhood, how we were raised, how we perceived the approval of our parents, etc.  (And YES, I am a firstborn!)  By my mid-30's, I started to relax and referred to myself as a "recovering over-achieving perfectionist". lol   It was shortly thereafter that life as I knew it came to a screeching halt.

What does God do with really stubborn folks?  Sometimes He has to bop them over the head with a truth so overwhelming, they have no choice but to See it.  Feel it.  Live it.

Yep, that's me.  The stubborn one.  The "old" Cheri seemed to rush through life, always something to do, somewhere to go, something to say.  Rarely relaxed, rarely sat still.  Certainly rarely relaxed.  Go Go Go!!!

And now? At age 43 after my surgeries and other issues, I have nothing BUT time to reflect, relax, ponder.   Total opposite.  And if all this free-time came pain free, it would be bliss.  Some days I'm fine, but others are just too awful to endure and endure I must.

 I feel like a human radar antenna.  If someone else is crying, in real life or on TV, then I'm crying, let alone the times I cry for me.  And crying is fine IF I kept it under control and only cried when I thought it was ok, which is basically only in private and when alone.  lol

Slowly but surely, I started crying more and more, as my body and mind just couldn't do it anymore. I was losing the ability to control it.  I was crying when I didn't want to!  Ack!!   There is just so much one can take, you know?  Granted, some other hugely stressful things were happening in our life at the time, but I was so exhausted from "pretending".  After seeking a referral from our insurance EAP (employee assistance program), I heard what I didn't want to hear. 

The lady on the phone asked many questions, spent quite a bit of time chatting with me and then advised me to see a Trauma Therapist.  HUH?  Trauma???  That shocked me.  She said, "Honey, having your regular life and dreams for the future taken away from you at the age of 39 IS traumatic and it's time to stop pretending you aren't devastated.".  Wow.  Did she have a window into my soul or what?

I've always prided myself on my acting skills.  ALWAYS have a huge smile on my face, sparkle in my eyes.  And darn it, I hate it when folks see through that.  Urg!  I'm happy, I'm fine, really really I am!!!

Well, it isn't the truth.  And it's time to admit it.


From THIS website:

It is fear which creates the mask, and fear which keeps it in place. The mask is hiding our true and most beautiful self from both ourselves and from the world. In its place is a mask of un-beauty.
In order to find our authentic self we must align ourselves with facing fear by digging down to the deepest, most hidden part of ourselves, that fearful place where we dread what we think is hidden. 

When we dig deeply enough into our hidden nature we find not darkness but light – and the realization that our safety lies in actually letting down the mask and being seen –
in being our true authentic self. 


I met the most wonderful therapist and truly believe God sent her to me.  I can be ME when I'm with her.  I can cry, I can be real, I can tell the truth because I'm not hurting anyone else, I'm not burdening anyone else, I'm not making anyone feel helpless.  (Because, honestly, what can anyone do to help me?  Having to watch my pain from a distance every day has to be hard enough.)

Do you know what she said to me last week?  She pointed out that I laugh and smile EVERY time I am asked about my pain.  EVERY TIME.   My assignment is to STOP laughing, STOP smiling and BE real.  Hmmmmm.  Not so easy.  

I am not depressed.  She and other docs agree.  Remove the pain and I would be fine.  Pain is depressing, living with pain is debilitating.  It is normal to be sad and mourn what "was".  But I must also accept what "is".

She believes that as I discover why and when this pain started, I will start feeling some relief.  This bottling up of all emotions is not good.  Has never been good and won't be good next week. It has to stop.  I mean, there is a time and place, don't get me wrong, but I need to feel safe in my own house, in my own body, to be real.   Not being real is robbing me of deserved peace in my life.  It's OK to admit how tough this is.  I am learning there is a difference between a chronic whiner and someone who is just honest.  Hmmmm, interesting concept.

So my mask is coming down, slowly but surely.  I'm definitely uncomfortable, but uncomfortable is good.  It means I'm making progress.  And I see peace ahead, I see good days in the future.  I believe in myself.  I am strong.  I have nothing to fear.  Therefore, I can be me.  The real me. 



  1. I'm beyond impressed with your strength in posting this. I am the result of a knee surgery gone horribly wrong at the age of 15. Since the surgery, I've been in constant pain from walking, standing, sitting too long - there's just no relief no matter what I do.

    I was told that current research shows the procedure I had done over ten years ago was the absolute worst "solution" for my problem, they just didn't know it at the time. I found a doctor to take the time to get my pain more manageable, but being 26 and being told that there's nothing you can do, pain is just something you'll have to deal with is hard.

    I've been through the rollercoaster of emotions you're going through, I laughed about it, I convinced myself that it was just normal, etc. Well guess what? It's not normal to suffer in pain every day, and it's OKAY to be angry and it's OKAY to not always be the strong one and it's OKAY to break down.

    I wish you luck in your journey - Believe me I understand that there isn't an "end" or an easy out - but there is light, bright, bright light.

  2. Good for you. You r on the right path. I am heading to that bright light too...

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Thanks so much for your lovely comments!