Essays

A confession of weakness

Perhaps I asked too much of you without you ever even knowing it.

If you wear a mask long enough, put it on each morning like you brush foundation onto your cheeks and your forehead, don it like your favorite coat, slide it on like broken-in leather gloves, you forget that it is a mask. You forget that it is even on.

It is just your face.

And then, as your thoughts begin to churn underneath, deep in your brain, and they start to change as life forces you to change: you meet new people, experience new things, and they have their effect on “you”, in your mind, this change is evident. It seems evident to you so why would it not be evident to everyone else?

But, ah, you’ve forgotten this thing: you have been wearing a mask, one fashioned of your very own hands when you felt the need to hide who you were from the world, and you wore it, day after day, month after month, year after year, like makeup, like that favorite coat, comfortable and habitual–

No one can see because all they see is the mask.

I wore a mask for a very long time. Some days, accidentally, I still put it on, and it settles onto the edges, slides right into place, and I have to shake it loose, shake myself loose, and decidedly, definitively, take it back off and put it aside. (I can’t bear to bring myself to destroy it yet; I don’t feel that safe yet. Who knows when I will need it again?)

I wore that mask with you and when I started to change underneath, when I thought those realizations – those feelings, those hopes, those dreams, all of it – when I thought that they were evident to you, they weren’t. It is only now that I am starting to realize this painful fact.

I was changing, growing, slowly and surely, but you didn’t know, couldn’t know, because the mask that I wore everyday kept that hidden from you.

And that mask you wore everyday kept it hidden from me that you couldn’t see, didn’t know.

That is the problem of masks; they are too good, too comfortable, and they fit so damn well after awhile. They let you choose the face that you present to the world, but when we’re not careful, they also become the face that we present to those closest to us, those to whom we most want to be unmasked and unadorned with. Those whom we love; those whom we would love.

I no longer wear my mask everyday. It served its purpose and I can honor it for that, but I can’t wear it anymore, I can’t embrace it anymore. It was my strength when I was too weak.

I’m not that weak anymore.

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