Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Suppressing Our True Selves

Key Words: Our True Selves, Suppressing, Image, Mask, Seeking Approval, Al-Anon

My True Self
I am learning that whenever I think something is bad in my life, that I may be suppressing myself in some way. When I judge it as bad, I may not be able to analyze what it is and how I may not be fully who I am.

Here is what I mean - as this might be a little difficult to explain.

When I say, "The world won't let me be myself . . .(out to get me, etc.) Or "You won't let me express myself . . . " Or "I wish I was someplace else . . ." I am suppressing myself in some way.

It is not obvious at first.

Before going on, please reread these statements. We have all made statements like these in some form similar to these before.

After you reread these statements, think about what you are really saying and then, what you do next. When I say statements like these, I say the problem is "out there." It is, in fact, controlling me - the so-called problem.

However, I am allowing it to control me. What?! I am saying that I could be happier/better if these things (the world, you, someplace else or I wish) weren't doing something to me.

So, what I do is go further along the misery path and I put on a mask to conceal. I place a mask on my face (or a cloak around my body) to become what I believe others want me to be or what I want to show to others.

Does this make sense?

This may be a little difficult to grasp, because while I believe the problem is someone or something causing me to be a certain way, I in reality, have chosen to be a certain way - other than my true self. I have chosen. I have chosen to cloak myself to show only what I think others will accept.

I have to stop here for you (actually me the typist) to see what I am saying more clearly. So think about this. As I type this, this is like a judo move in my brain. My brain is beginning to hurt because it is a twist.

Now if you have grasped this "cloaking" or "masking" concept, I want to move on. If you haven't, please go back and reread the above. Because the next sentence will only add to the above.

Here is the next sentence.

We cloak and we cloak, and we cloak and we cloak. (I am going to use this word instead of mask at this point for a reason. Mask works well, but cloak works better for me and I will explain why in a second)

What I am saying is, this cloaking thing, goes on ALL DAY LONG, several times a day, with different people, in different events, in different circumstances. Sometimes this serves a good purpose, I think. Other times, not so.

Are you with me thus far?

We cloak ourselves. Especially in this disease. We - in essence - HIDE. Now everyone "hides" parts of themselves. Maybe this is normal. Maybe it shouldn't be. I do not know.

But I do know this, as I become more of myself, the revealing of myself, in the rooms of Al-Anon, I am shedding layers of blankets, that I feel - that I never felt before - covered me up so others would not judge me as "bad" or "not whole, complete and - [YIKES, here's the word I didn't see before, but have heard it stated a lot in Al-Anon - here it comes . . . ] perfect."

A Note to Myself
[That perfect word is a word, I didn't think I had affecting me. I have heard others use it and I thought "I know I am not perfect" and sorta reveled in the thought that I knew I wasn't. But, in truth, I think after typing here, I revealed that I want to present an image of perfection. I wear nice clothes, just bought expensive cologne (ha!), have a nice car, nice house (paid off and I want all to know that!), a nice rental home, money in the bank (and I drop hints about that around too), I have had/have great jobs, - so hmmmm, I found something else out about me. Interesting.] - these square brackets "[ ]" are me talking to myself.

Layers of Cloaks
So, back to cloaks. I have shared in Al-Anon that I feel as I reveal more and more about me in these rooms, that I find more and more about myself, that I thought wasn't true for me. And as I see myself being revealed to myself (and to others), I feel like layers of wool blankets (the cloaks) have been covering me up are being taken off. I was - suffocating - and didn't know it.

Over time, with all these layers (cloaks) being put on me, I had become someone else. I put these on -one layer at a time - by trying to adapt to others expectations of me and the expectations I had of myself. But these expectations - well they are and were - here is another key term - an "illusion." I created the expectations. [Are you friggin' kidding me?! Yeppy deppy. Now that I think about it - no one said you need to be this way or that way. Yeppy deppy.]

After writing this - the above paragraph specifically - I think the toughest of expectations - are those that I hold up for myself. And they can be the greatest of illusions of all.

Who Am I? (MY Great Houdini)
I performed the great Houdini act. I - in essence - "disappeared."

I am getting back to me, however, slowly, but surely. But I must say it is hard. I live in a world that wants illusions and wants people to fit into certain molds and patterns.

As I learn more about myself - and learn to be more accepting of my true self - I am learning to be more accepting of others. I now have friends who are male, female, but are also now, black, Hispanic, Asian, and gay. I could never say this before. I see me in all of them. And some of these people are more REAL than I am. They are more authentic, and I would never have admitted that before because I never knew it before.

So, I am working to reveal me - not to others - but to me. And just be - well - er, um, me. And me is good enough.

But it is taking time and work and Al-Anon.

Hope you are well and I hope this post helped you as much as it helped me today.


Syd said...

Cloaking or masking and hiding feelings are things that those who live with alcoholism do well. I've done that for a long time but now I don't need to act anymore. I can unmask and be myself.

paul said...

First of all thank you for this wonderful blog. I have been reading for sometime but am commenting for the first time.
You have helped me make some tough decisions. Our paths are somewhat similar.....wanting our child to be safe, filing for divorce.
While the tough choices continue (my wife entered rehab for the 3rd time in as many months after I filed), I have found comfort and strength in reading your posts.
My first marriage and first experience with addiction has been a whirlwind of abuse, financial disaster, and destroyed trust.....all the symptoms of addiction as I have learned.
Thanks to your blog and my visits with an Al-Anon group I have finally gotten beyond my alcoholics vortex and am beginning the process of taking care of my daughter and myself, and putting forth the plan of getting on with our life.
Your words help more than you may ever know. Peace be with you.

Anonymous said...

I am finding out that if you can't be honest with yourself, then who can you be honest with?

The masking and hiding of feelings is like a volcano....... It can brew deep beneath the surface for days, months, even years, but there will come a day when it finally erupts...

The good news is, there is a life of freedom, contentment, and joy once the dust has settled.

Take heart in that!

Peace this Wed.


Lennoxsolo said...

You ought to write a book. You're an amazing writer. Ever heard of Augusten Burroughs? He's brilliant and so are you. Thank you for the blog...I love simply being my authentic self and Alanon is teaching me be so. Keep smiling and remember this...have fun no matter what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

For me denial plays a huge factor in the whole masking situation. Sometimes I don't really know who I am or what I want. I am just going along living one day at a time and suddenly I am in a situation and I don't know how I got there. So have I been masking my feelings or do I not even know what my feelings are? Over the past year I have been adjusting to life on my own again. I realize now that I was in a relationship 13 years and somehow lost sight of my true feelings. I have met someone new 17 years sober and wonder is it possible not to end up in the same place again. I have been in this program a long time and we learn to make ourselves happy. Because I was always taking responsibility for my own happiness I didn't realize I should have been the one who wanted out. I know this doesn't totally relate to your topic but for me I get lost in the day to day and I am not intentionally masking who I am.