The Mask

“Sometimes it’s not that people change, it’s just that the mask falls off”

~Unknown

 

I loved this quote the moment it popped up for me! It came at a time when I was wondering just how bad my judgement of people may be. How is it that a reasonably intelligent human being who also prides herself on using her intuition and senses to know people at a deep level not see the person in front of her. That has been a thought of mine a few times but none so vivid as my ex-husband.

This quote gave me a different way to think about it versus the old “why didn’t you see him for what he was.” Or “why did he change?” “what did I do to cause him to change?” And of course that is where I went for a few years because we all know after reading this blog for a year that I would absolutely blame myself.  I would absolutely judge me harshly, that is what I used to do.  He changed so dramatically, I did think he just changed. Then I started to realize that I felt a lot of changes along the way, as he got more comfortable. His mask was falling off over a few years and then just dropped. It was all quid pro quo. It wasn’t love for love’s sake, it was love for whatever it was he had in his head that he wanted in return. His expectations of me were different.

Some years later, therapy, working with life coaches and my own hard work, I can see it differently. And this quote sums it up for me. I am sure that there are signs I should have noticed that I probably ignored or rationalized, but ultimately, the mask fell off. And by the way, this isn’t exclusive to an ex, this can be a friend or even family member who has their mask fall off. I have had all of the above.  When you start to realize that it is the other person hiding who they really are to you, trying to be something they are not to keep you in their life, you can let go of the self blame.  This isn’t about you. You cannot know that someone has a mask on. You take people for face value, you hope as your relationship deepens, you know the real person.

The Billy Joel song, The Stranger” feels like the same concept. There is a part of each of us that is rarely shared and at some point that part may pop out. Some are more evil, more hurtful, and more extreme than others. Some are vindictive and jealous. Some are just not who they wanted you to believe they were. They made you believe they cherished and they didn’t.  Some, you realize, are only loyal to you for as long as they can get something from you.  Their loyalty is fleeting.  Some are concerned you will judge the person they hide.

I wonder if we all have a mask we wear at least with some. Is Billy’s song accurate that, “we all have a face that we hide away forever.” I don’t know. I think I have peeled the mask off my face over the years as I have gotten to know and like me more. I believe I show people a lot of me, but I’m not sure it is all of me to everyone. In fact I know it isn’t. I am quick to disclose facts about me, but my deeper vulnerabilities, my deeper emotions, I keep inside. This blog has given me a place to take the risk of being more open, showing my wounds as they heal, peeling away at the mask.

Thank you for that safe place, to let the mask fall off.

6 Comments

  1. littlemac40 on January 16, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Wow, this is great… You are amazing.

    Mary Anne

    >

    • Suzy on January 16, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      thank you Mary Anne, especially for appreciating my openness, it takes a lot for me to share.

  2. kkgelt@aol.com on January 16, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    OMG – Suzy, this made me well up! I believe that’s sooooo true: the mask eventually falls off. I’ve beaten myself up for several years now; I meet men that I think are great, and they turn out to be assholes. I used to believe I had good instincts, and good intuition. Now I truly question that. I also think that part of my problem is that I’m such an optimist, it’s hard to be objective; I look for and expect the good in everyone. At 55 I should know better, right? Even some alleged girlfriends ended up having their masks fall off. (I think you know who I mean!) Thanks for sharing, and helping me grow and learn through you!!!! Kar xoxo

    • Suzy on January 16, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      I was reflecting on our recent conversation as I wrote this Karen. xoxo

  3. June on January 17, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Suzy you wrote a powerful story that so many of us share.

    What beautiful synergy– as we see behind the mask of those we thought we loved, we find the courage to remove our own mask and reap the benefits of loving and accepting ourselves more. Perhaps that is the gift the masked men gave us.

    • Suzy on January 21, 2016 at 2:16 am

      Great point June, thank you for that insight.

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