Carolyn June 28, 2009 at 8:59 pm

A comment from Urchin on ‘Splintered’:

How do you use your masks? With whom? Why?

Most often my masks show up when I’m in a crowd. I’m actually very uncomfortable being around other people, it stems from my immediate distrust of motives. At work, I have a “work face” but I try to let the work face reflect my personal face. I’d much rather be a happy-smiling person than a withdrawn-distrustful one.

Carolyn 2 Carolyn June 28, 2009 at 9:02 pm

My Reply: For me, I use my masks almost all the time. The real Carolyn sneaks out sometimes and it almost always catches me off guard. In a moment I’ll hear myself laugh and realize that it doesn’t sound like my usual laugh. Then I’ll realize that I’m out. Really out. And I never even realized the moment it happened. But it feels so good. Like a breath of fresh air in oxygen starved lungs. I try to hold on to myself. To keep me there. But all too soon the scene changes and I’m gone again.

Please feel free to join in. I’d love to hear about your masks.

3 Tammy June 29, 2009 at 8:25 am

I use my mask all the time as well. Never really thought about it much until now. It is automatic. For me, they started at age 11 when my Dad was first diagnosed. He had enough to worry about, worrying about a crying little girl would not have helped. I had to be strong (for him). That was also the way it had to be for my Mom when he died. I now had to help take care of everyone and be strong. Then there was the mask for school, what 12 and 13 yr old kids can understand what it is like to be an “orphan”. So I was normal and smiled pretended nothing has really changed.
The masks are still there today and more have been added for different situations. They, I think are interconnected to my walls I have up for protection and I don’t see them going anywhere (for now anyways).

Carolyn 4 Carolyn June 29, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Dear Tammy, of course you would put your dad’s needs ahead of yours in such a situation. And then do it again for your mother and your family. So strong. So brave. And although your grieving will never end, I hope you have managed to find a soft place for yourself to express the sheer depth and breadth of it. Even if only to yourself. To acknowledge it’s presence, and let it be the strong one even for a short moment. For whatever is needed to protect you, whether it be a mask or a wall, use it to its full advantage. But those things we use to protect others, solely for the benefit of others, need to come off every now and again.

5 Urchin June 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Oh wow.

I think this is why masks are made to begin with. The need to appear strong for some reason or another. To put forth a proper and ‘acceptable’ face. I’m not saying that it’s not necessary because then I’d be calling myself out big time. I think that masks are necessary. It’s unfortunate, yeah, but who’s to say that they aren’t an actual part of who we are?

As human beings with personalities, thoughts, strong emotions… there are many facets to who we are at any given moment.

Maybe I think too much, but does this mean that it’s actually a mask? Sure, when we put on a smiling face when we want nothing more than to curl up and cry, that could be a mask. But what about everywhere else?

Carolyn 6 Carolyn June 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm

I agree. Masks and walls originate from some need for protection. It’s only when they stop being protective and start being restrictive that they are a bother. We as people are not static beings. When describing someone, you never think of just one word. We all are multifaceted; it’s what makes us interesting. Someone who is always happy or always sad or always calm are bound to be almost always be boring.

The problem I have is that there is almost always an in-congruency between what I show and what I feel. And to be honest I’m not sure how much of a disconnect there really is because I stopped paying attention to my feelings a long time ago. I’m not merely smoothing out my edges to be ‘acceptable’; I’m becoming who I think I should be as opposed to who I am. And that’s the kind of mask I need to learn to let go of.

7 Urchin June 29, 2009 at 11:30 pm

It’s hard to let go of masks though. And walls. And castles in the sky (a-la Le Mes). We all have that ideal, I believe. That something that we want so much to be, or believe that we should be regardless of overwhelming evidence that we’re pretty awesome people behind the walls, masks, fortresses…

There’s a secret from postsecret this week that pertains to this conversation. I’ll link it as best I know how.

Carolyn 8 Carolyn June 30, 2009 at 8:44 am

Ahh, I love that. It is exactly how I feel these days. :)

9 Urchin June 30, 2009 at 10:46 am

Maybe someday in the near future Tammy and I can feel the same way. :)

Carolyn 10 Carolyn June 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Only if you want to. And only when you are ready.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Urchin July 19, 2009 at 12:28 am

…In the mirror that I’m looking
nothing reflects
all of my emotions
all of my regrets
behind my hazel eyes
you will never see
all of the perfection that I’ll never be…

…in the mirror that I’m looking
the vision’s always blur
all the shiny colors
are blackened to the core
behind my fake smile
that hides all my tears
I’m perfect for everyone
only it’s not real…

…in the mirror that I’m looking
I’ve started to ignore
all of my dreams
that I had before
behind my sad eyes
for all the world to see
my facade is crumbling
who am I suppose to?…

…in the mirror that I’ve broken
a shattered image reflects
none of my emotions
but all of my regrets
shards of glass cuts deep
I yearn for something real
perfection spills down my wrist
but I cant seem to feel…

…the mirror that I’ve broken
was not the image of me
and though the view has faded
I’ve finally begun to see…

A poem I wrote a few years ago… It pertains, at least, to me.


2 Tammy July 19, 2009 at 7:49 am

This is a beautiful poem. You are very talented Urchin.


3 Urchin July 19, 2009 at 2:18 pm

I’m glad you liked it. Thank you.


4 Carolyn July 19, 2009 at 7:30 am

What a beautiful poem Urchin. Thank you for sharing it with us.


5 Urchin July 19, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Thank you.


6 Angie July 26, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Being the “strong one” all of the time gets old, especially if you are only pretending. The expectation that “you can handle it” forces me to reach for my mask when deep down inside I just want someone to shield me from the pain and tell me everything will be alright. Instead, I keep my chin up, I march on. Masks betray our needs. They hide us from ourselves.


7 Carolyn July 26, 2009 at 10:00 pm

I agree wholeheartedly. Well stated, Angie.


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