The Mask

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I am blessed to have a therapist now who specializes in trauma and has been doing trauma therapy for most of her 38 years on the job. Trauma therapy is  different from other therapy I feel. We need the same skills taught to us and we need to change the way we think but the root causes of how we feel are so incredibly deep and so often caused by the people who should have loved us most. We suffer not only because of what happened but we suffer sometimes even more with the way we were taught to think and how we internalize all those early messages that everything that happened to us was truly our own fault.

As I mentioned in another recent blog, I am dealing with my self-esteem right now and I had a VERY hard session this week. I admitted my true feelings. Not the surface mask feelings but the true, deep in my core, very negative view that I have of myself. It was hard to allow that mask to fall off and allow her to see what is truly hidden under that smiling face that the rest of the world sees.
You know that mask? I am sure you do.

As my therapist read out the words I used to describe myself deep in my core, it was easy to place every word. The words I use to describe myself are the same words that my parents used to describe me from my earliest memories until the last time I ever spoke to them.
It was and still is terrifying to me that those words are actually the correct ones. A waste of space, a sociopath, a liar, fat, dirty, disgusting, stupid… the list is horribly long but I am sure you get the idea.

I now have a list of words that my friends use to describe me today. Who I really am. I actually cried the whole time that my therapist read them out to me. I cried because I know my friends were being totally honest and not just stroking my ego. I also know that they are right about who I am. I am a very authentic person and they see me for who I really am. Good days and bad.
To hear those words made me feel so loved and so special but it also made me angry at the words that were on my list. They are not MY words, they are the words that were used to brainwash me and keep me quiet. Those words bought my silence for over 40 years.

So I have a project to do now. Homework. 🙂
I need to use words that people use to describe me NOW and do something creative with them. Something beautiful. It has been hard to come up with a good idea but I believe that I have now. I’ll share it when I have a chance to start it (next week – this week is NUTS).

My therapist also showed me a picture of a trauma group they run and all the women in the group posed wearing masks. She told me that each one of them feels they are wearing a mask too and they describe themselves in the same way that I describe myself. I cried again because I know 100% for sure that if any of them ever confided in me, I’d spend every moment trying to help them see the good in themselves. I’d move mountains if I had to. Whatever would be needed to help them see the beauty in themselves that I so clearly see.
Now I need to move mountains for me.

Who are you really? At your deepest core, who do you think you are?
Do you think that is how your friends see you?
In the world TODAY… is that really you?
Are you like me and still carrying around the words you were taught? Some venomous, incorrect, soul crushing set of words used to keep you quiet?

Now the most important question.
Are you willing to accept that you are not THAT person?
THAT person was created to keep you where “they” wanted you to be.
Who are you really? Today? What have you done in your world or others to make this world a better place?
People who have been abused and hurt are very often the nicest, most giving, gentle souls on the planet. I am sure you are one of them.
Think about it and if you feel that you need to do the same work that I do, try to create something using the words of who you are now. Even if all you create is a list. Use nice paper and write with care. Put that list somewhere that you will see it often.
One day we will be able to drop those masks and just show our authentic selves. I am positive you shine.
Now the hard part… admitting out loud that I shine too.

15 responses to “The Mask

  1. unfortunately I carry the negative words that my abusers said about me. deep in my core. I think what your doing creating something to represent the words your friends said it is a great idea. I may try to make a list and ask my friends to describe me in one word. see what comes of that little project. its is so hard to change beliefs isnt it? XX

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  2. Beautiful Heather. And so are you. Your writing heals, and your blog resonates so deeply. Thank you for being such an incredibly amazing ‘waste’ of space.

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  3. Omg. I hope not but it sounds like we have shared similar past experiences… I too have an amazing therapist! I have been with him for nine years 2 to 5 times a week.

    More times than I can count this man has literally been my lifeline…! It is through him that I am finally starting to see myself through his eyes, which is something he’s been striving for for many years. He has never given up on me I’m like my family… They show caring concern by throwing money at me. He is the first person in my life that sees things in me that in the back of my mind I know are there but I am just now getting a glimpse. I don’t even consider him a man or woman or therapist I consider him a special person and our souls are connected.

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    • Wow! 9 years 2-5 times a week. That is amazing! I am lucky to see min weekly and none have ever lasted more than a year before they move, change jobs, go on sabbatical or retire. BUT the lady I see now (who will retire in June coming)is great and I will use every bit of knowledge she can share. 🙂
      And yes, we do seem to have a lot in common. I wish you steady healing.

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  4. Even a few ill-chosen words or a single bad experience can change the way a child views itself FOR LIFE. I know.
    YEARS of cruel negativity must be a huge burden to shed, but if anyone can do it, you can Heather. A zentangle would be a great way of writing those words yourself!
    And if you need more good stuff to put in it, well l still have loads…..😊

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    • Those implanted words become who we think we are and changing them is very difficult. I sat on the couch last night having a conversation about not being a good enough mother. I need to keep reminding myself of who I am NOW and those thoughts never belonged to me.
      Cwtches Wendy. 🙂

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  5. Excellent writing today Heather! Do not ever stop!

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  6. Some people make the world better by being in it — and that is you.

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