Saturday, 22 November 2014

I HAVE TO HIDE THE REAL ME...

We had so much response to our first feature on readers who 'hide' their true selves behind a mask that we decided to continue the discussion… with different readers, this time…

Charlie says:
At school, sometimes people comment that my hair is horrible or that I'm ugly. I laugh it off and pretend to just be weird and crazy so that people don't make comments like that - they just think I'm weird, and that is better than being branded 'ugly' or 'big'. Not many people know that when I go home I carry the hurt and pain with me and feel really upset; they only ever see the fun, crazy side of me.

Carolyn says:
Charlie, I so identify with that. At school I act so happy when I am with my friends that it would be impossible to guess at what goes on behind that bubbly persona. Every so often, at lunch or break time, when nobody is looking, I sneak away and lock myself in a cubicle in the loo and cry rivers. Sometimes I even punch or kick the walls, missing lunch because I feel too lost and too angry to face the world… and I don't even know why. Then, as soon as the bell goes for whatever the next lesson is, I wipe the tears away and wash my face and make up an excuse for where I disappeared to… I say I've been in the library, for example. I pretend I am happy and normal until I go home and sit alone within the four walls of my room. I pretend to do my homework but really I am just sitting there, hugging my legs and wondering why I have these terrible feelings. I'm scared.

Yasmin says:
Carolyn, there have been times when I have felt that way too, but ironically I feel like I am myself with my friends at school, and at home I have to pretend to be something I am not. It's like I am a jigsaw piece and someone is forcing me into the wrong place in the picture, but I have no choice but to try to fit. I am grateful that I have a group of friends who accept me for who I am, even though that is not perfect in any way, and care about me. I know my family love me too, but they have such high expectations that I  cannot even hope to try and live up to them any more. I have to hide the real me. At home I  play the part of dutiful daughter, hard working pupil, helpful sister. Nobody bothers to look beneath the surface and see the real me, which is so much more than that. This has been going on for a few years now and the strain is really getting to me. I have done exactly what you have done, Carolyn - shut myself in my room and hit the walls with my fists until they hurt. Screamed into a pillow. Cried until there are no more tears left. It feels like I am two people, or that I have two lives… and I live in terror that my family will find this out and if they do I don't think they will ever forgive me.

Jennifer says:
Yasmin, is there somebody at school you can talk to about this? A counsellor maybe, or perhaps a sympathetic family member like an older cousin? I hope you can find a solution to this. Me, I hide behind a 'fake' happy face to mask the fear and the desolate wasteland that is my mind, so as not to show the pain that is hidden there. I don't want people to see the pain. If people ask how I am, I switch on a big smile and say, 'I'm fine!' when in reality I should answer 'I am not OK. I just want to hide away from the world.' I have been doing this for a while now… I just mask the pain I feel in the hopes that others don't see.

Megan says:
I understand what all of you are saying. I hide behind masks. I live in a world of masquerade. I've been building a wall around myself for years. I am the shyest girl at school, the quiet one who never speaks. Well, I am quiet because I am scared that if people find out about the 'real' me they will hate her, even more than they already do. Each time I get hurt, I build my wall higher, make it thicker, and my mask seems to mould itself to me more than ever; it becomes me. I have been bullied, which is the reason for my mask. I am quite insecure. I wear a 'mask' because it is my way to hide, my way to survive.

Yasmin says:
It is like living a lie, isn't it? It feels some days like it is choking me, that it will destroy me or drive me mad. Jennifer, we do have a school counsellor and once I went up to her door and raised my hand to knock, but lost my courage and walked away. Maybe I will have another try, because there has to be a better way than this, doesn't there? I really hope so, because this really is no way to live.

Names have been changed to protect privacy; thanks to Charlie, Carolyn, Yasmin, Megan and Jennifer for their honesty.

Pics posed by model Autumn.

Cathy says:
These readers feel they have no choice but to hide away their true selves, but we cannot grow or form strong relationships until we learn to be honest, at least with those we trust. Have YOU ever hidden behind a falsely cheerful mask or concealed important things about yourself? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more or offer ways to change things...

6 comments:

  1. I didn't think I had a mask but Mum told me today that my whole persona was a mask. I am not the funny, quirky, sarcastic person people think I am. I'm still her daughter and I need help which I'm not getting because I'm always pretending to be someone else. I always just considered my persona to be another facet of my personality but Mum's worried. I don't know why. She doesn't know about half the stuff that worries me or how I am when I'm alone (much like Carolyn, I lock myself in a cubicle at lunchtime and cry and spend the days I'm not at college in bed, staring blankly at the wall and wondering if everyone feels numb and flat or if it's just me). She says I need to be sectioned because she thinks it's the only way I'll feel safe and she says that my eyes are dead and flat and she feels she's lost her connection with me because I just spend all my time locked away in my room and when I do emerge, I'm always wearing my persona and she thinks said persona is horrible. Everyone else seems to like her because she's funny and passionate and strong but Mum says she's too strong. I think she might be right but I like her more than myself so does it matter if she's a strong personality? I thought Mum would be happier if I wasn't moping around the house. She told me herself that I was just depressing everyone and I don't want that. But now I'm being bright and couldn't-care-less, she's worried. There's no pleasing some people! I just don't know. I want to keep the persona. People like her more and I don't care if she's not really me, I don't want to be a burden on my friends and family by being myself. I guess I'll ask my psychologist what to do - she's the professional. I know I'm hardly the person to be doling out advice but here it is: be honest. With anybody. A trusted friend or family member, a doctor or counsellor. Someone who can support or help you. Yasmin is right - it's no way to live. So you lot need to find a way to be happy so you don't need your masks. And you'll need to be honest before you can move forward. I'm not saying it will be easy but it's necessary if you ever want to be happy and confident in yourself. Good luck. Remember that you're not alone and however you feel, someone out there understands entirely and knows that it gets better.

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    1. Anon, I don't think your mum's words are helpful here. She may mean well, but when you are feeling fragile this kind of hard-hitting criticism can really unravel us. You have not created this mask/ persona for fun - it helps you to cope at a time when things are clearly very difficult for you. Please do talk to your psychologist and get some help… and ask your mum to be careful in the ways she supports you… her concern is coming over as more of an attack at present, which I am sure is not her intention. Take care and keep yourself steady… things can get better, and with the right help you can put this difficult time behind you. xxx

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  2. How did they have conversations with each other? Can I join? emilyx

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    1. The posts were sent to me and then some were sent on to others to respond to… Yasmin did most of the responding in this piece! We have one last blog on this planned Emily so if you have FB please message me through the FB fanpage or email me via link on cathycassidy.com and I can include your views. xxx

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    2. Thanks Cathy, yes I will email you xx

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  3. Is Autumn the same person as blue?

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