Unmasking Our Facades
I’m afraid to show you who I really am, because if I show you who I really am, you might not like it — and that’s all I got.
Sabrina Ward Harrison
In the classic story, The Phantom of the Opera, the title character hides for years in the Paris Opera House. When he is discovered, he is wearing a mask to hide his face. The mask, ultimately, it is revealed, hides a hideous deformity about which he was very embarrassed and ashamed. He hid behind that mask because he believed that no one could ever bear to look at him or accept him or love him. But when he is finally unmasked he learns that there is someone who can bear to look at him and does accept him and who even begins to love him. He had never experienced any of that before, not even with his own mother.
At times, we all wear masks, because we too live in fear – masks that hide who we really are because we are afraid that, like the Phantom, we will not be accepted or loved. We fear that if others saw us as who we really are they will reject us. We fear that we are not attractive enough or successful enough or smart enough or good enough to be lovable. So we put on facades that hide who we really are and we keep others at a distance in hopes that we will not be exposed as the weak, needy, insecure, sometimes selfish people whom we think we really are.
But the fact is, none of us are perfect. We all have vulnerabilities, inconsistencies, insecurities and fears. Even those of us who put on the appearance of great self-confidence are often masking feelings of inadequacy and shame. Too many of us, in the end, are not okay with who we really are and we are afraid that no one else will be either.
And that’s where grace is called to come in. Grace is the gift of being able to recognize that none of us are ever perfect, that all of us have vulnerabilities and that so much of the time we all act and react out of this kind of fear. Yet when we recognize that in ourselves and in in each other we can begin to accept ourselves more easily and we can begin to understand the motivations of others more easily too. It’s about recognizing that all of us struggle in one way or the other with shame and fear. It’s about being more patient with one another and compassionate with one another and forgiving of one another, including ourselves. Because these shared masks are our common experience in life.
When we have the freedom to remove our masks and be who we really are with those whom we trust, our lives can be so much richer. It is liberating to shed our shame and share our fears and to ultimately learn that we are not alone.
It is our mission here at Someone To Tell it To to provide a place for anyone who needs to shed a mask to be able to reveal themselves in order to discover this freedom and the ability to live a much less constrained and constricted life. A safe place for us all.