My fingers slowly trace the outline of my face in the reflection of the tarnished mirror.
I notice each delicate curve, feature and the way my eyes look hollow. Deadness. I tighten my brows and look deeper, thinking just maybe I’d see something worth salvaging in my matted soul.
Dear God, please.
I close my eyes gently and take a deep breath. The exhale feels good and for a split second I feel a sense of hope. Then the memories return.
I’m nothing but a ragamuffin. If I were something special, surely they’d tell me. Show me. Pick me up and dance around floating like fluffy clouds on a spring day. Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do? My eyes are swollen, as tear drops delight in flowing like a river.
At eight years old, brokenness introduces herself, confinement welcomes me and hands me an exquisite, sparkling mask, assuring me that if I put it on, all will be ok.
So begins my walk of shame. The beginning of disguise. Befriending my shadow. Shielding my fragile heart from the likes of the cruel side of humanity. From now on, the corridors of my soul are off limits, thank you very much.
“One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your own sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.”
~ K.L. Toth
Masks conceal. Masks distract. Masks make it easier to move the fuck on when your inner world is amassing heartache, rubbed raw with a sandpaper kind of love. After all, who really wants to feel pain? Who really wants to pull fragments of shrapnel out of the heart one by one screaming in ridiculous agony?
Nah. It’s easier to cover. Medicate. Numb.
But the soul. Oh the soul and how it whispers. Day after day. Year after year.
Tend to me. Please. Just get quiet for a moment, I have so much to say. Slow down. Stop resisting. I need you. I want you. Come back to me.
Life’s epic struggle between light and dark. Face things or run like hell. Feel it or self-medicate.
This journey of life is always intriguing me. I’ve spent a good part of it thinking I was alive and well, yet really unconscious to authentic anything. All shiny and smiling on the outside, yet inside tangled, divided, suffocating, very much alone.
As time creeps by year after year, I find the deep yearning for raw and real grows stronger. It starts off slow; just a tiny tug here or there but over time the whispering turns into something fierce—a holy type of fierce. It gives me a quick jolt and at some moments the inner magnetic pull takes me to my feeble knees where I contemplate the mystery.
But the mask. It fits so perfectly. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar.
But familiarity breeds contempt, right?
Besides, my mask has suffered some noticeable cracks; each one allowing just a teensy bit of light to enter, giving me an opportunity to return to my Source for a sacred reunion. Surrender. Just freaking take a deep breath and let go.
After all, those seemingly beautiful masks we all proudly wear, thinking we’re showing off our best selves yet, are nothing but a stumbling block and a lie! A false self that parades itself, puffing itself up, yet masking the gorgeousness that resides deep in our core. Yes, a ravishing reservoir of beauty and authenticity that would blow our scrawny little minds if we could really get hold of it.
So what does it take to smash the mask? What causes us to take the damn thing off?
“Don’t you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?”
~ Søren Kierkegaard
My midnight hour came full force in one traumatic scene that put the final crack in my mask and it was beyond repair. In fact, it free fell to the ground screaming its demise, shattering into hundreds of pieces and there I was aghast at the realization of my nakedness and vulnerability.
“My mask! Oh my God my mask!” Dazed. Petrified. I can’t even see straight. I closed my eyes tightly. I did not want to see. I was afraid of what I’d see. Yet at the same time I also wanted to be free and I’d heard enough whispers to know that taking the mask off was the only way to cultivate that freedom.
Oh, the dreaded descent!
So I opened my eyes and purposed to face each wretched layer one at a time.
Each memory. Each regret. Each emotion. Each wound. I embraced solitude and withdrew unto the abyss of self; alone and utterly afraid. I decided I was not coming out until I’d tended to each wounded fragment of my life and created a magical collage of my authentic, raw being.
Excavation began, loosening each layer and though it felt bad, it also felt so good. Though it was quite ugly, it was also quite beautiful.
Smashing the labels. Releasing the expectations. Burning the chaff. Soul metamorphosis in the making, taking life authorship into my own, fragile hands.
Everyone has a story.
Everyone has some unhealed wounds on some level.
Transformation happens when we sit for a time in the emptiness of our soul. When we take off the mask and courageously look in the mirror of our essence, tracing and facing each wrinkle, each characteristic, each glorious flaw.
Go ahead. Begin the descent.
Cry tears that nourish the dry, crusty heart soil.
Embrace the brokenness that loves us enough to keep whispering our name.
Awaken to a new level. See with other eyes. Love from the core.
Beauty. Femininity. Love. The kind of love that does not judge. The kind of love that looks past masks right into the core of humanity. The kind of love that makes us run outside, throw our hands up to the sky and bask in the realness of our divinity.
Aliveness has taken over. Presence is my comrade. Love is my source.
It’s time. We’re all called to discover the beauty beneath the garments. Let’s fling our masks in the fire and courageously sit with our sacredness for just a little while. Be reborn in the ashes. No more pretending. No more covering up epic beauty.
Trust the process.
Rise, I say.
Rise and celebrate the beauteous ebb and flow of it all.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Yaisa Nio / Editor: Renée Picard