Who Is Behind Your Mask? Letting go of the Masquerade
4 There Is Only ONE You...WILL YOU PLEASE REVEAL YOURSELF...
" Sometimes it's not the people who change, it's the mask that falls off".
- Author Unknown
Recently, I watched the movie The Man in the Iron Mask starring, Leonardo DiCaprio and found myself unnerved by the eerie and riveting scene when the young King Louis XIV of France voluntarily chooses to put back on his torturous full-headed heavy iron mask that he'd been forced to wear throughout his six years of captivity despite having been liberated from both his mask and captors. When asked why, he simply states " I feel safer with it on"! Equally jolting, was the scene where DiCaprio is having to endure the fear and painful removal of his iron mask!
As I continued to watch the eventual unfolding and blossoming of this courageous character into full blown self actualization, it struck me how analogous and symbolic the movie was to our individual lives and the many masks we wear for innumerable reasons. Many of us feel forced, as King Louis did, to wear masks that are not of our own making. We feel the burden of carrying around the heaviness of those masks-as depicted by heavy iron of DiCaprio's mask- and yet get quite accustomed to wearing them to the point of believing they are who we are and make our entire lives the masquerade as was symbolized by the "full headed"all encompassing mask in the movie.
Another key comparable to our lives the movie offered was the fear, anguish and pain the character experienced while having the mask removed. We too experience immense fear, pain, anxiety and a full plethora of emotions when we are faced with the challenge of removing or surrendering our masks. Even with the great burden of carrying the spirit-breaking load of our masks, we often have a death grip on them and are ready to launch an all out annihilation on anyone or anything threatening or questioning their existence.
For me, the questions that ensued following the movie were many and deeply personal as well as ones I hope are eagerly asked and answered by those of us on a journey to live more authentically and in right relationship with our souls. The inquiry into our hearts that the questions pose are long-winded but much needed if we truly are ready to step into the truth of who we genuinely are without our masks of illusion. They begin with are you aware of your mask(s)? What masks are you wearing at this point in your life and have worn in the past? For whom? And, what is the motive behind wearing them? What does the culmination of all your masks look like? And, if you were to create this mask and look at it objectively what would you see? More importantly, are you ready to let them fall away? If not, why not? What are you gaining from upholding the masquerade the mask offers? The answers to these questions generated a deeper than surface longing to understand the reasons behind the masks we all wear and the price for doing so not only to our souls, but also our world.
The harsh reality is when we are masking our authentic self for any reason we are prostituting our souls and selling ourselves to the highest bidder not to mention living a life of denial of Creator's gifts to us and our soul's essence. We tell ourselves a barrage of stories as to why and continue to plot along the path of our lives often feeling unfulfilled and secretly longing for something more to magically happen and free us from the unhappiness, discontentment and feelings of entrapment that have become our lives. We've convinced ourselves, despite the many nagging whispers in our heads that say otherwise, that wearing the mask is a necessary evil for survival and the right thing to do because it will protect and save our loved ones from suffering and pain, keep harmony in our lives and safeguard what we've worked so hard to attain and maintain including our image.
Truth be told, what we are really doing is using our masks to provide us a safe haven for the vulnerable underbelly of our authentic and wounded souls and side stepping the growing pains and discomfort that come from ridding ourselves of our masks and pulling out the sword we plunged into our own hearts to stay safe, secure and feel loved. For many of us, our childhood riddled us with false beliefs about who we are and our lovability and set the stage for the mask wearing to begin its march into our lives. We came away from the table of our upbringing with the limiting belief and the illusion that in order to be loved and to avoid feeling alienated, ostracized, abandoned or rejected we had to be something other than who we are (masking) to know and experience abiding love, approval and acceptance. In reality unadulterated love doesn't demand we become something other than we are or punish us for being our unmasked self or deny our authenticity in any way. The masks we've chosen are the shields of protection against this and were created to provide us with a false sense of safety and security as well as a way to conceal our fears of disapproval, rejection or abandonment, our insecurities, limitations, feelings of inadequacy, vulnerability, pride and simply hide what we don't believe to be acceptable or lovable about us. Moreover, our masks were put in place by us to serve our human need to be honored and acknowledged by someone as somebody and to drown out the agonizing cries of our souls to live in greater alignment with our truth. Albeit, our masks can and do temporarily fill the void and silence the cries of our soul to be heard as well as insulate us from the stinging pain of our human frailty, but they also rob us of our life and IMPRISON our authentic self by inhibiting us from experiencing the beauty of full spectrum expression in our lives. Sadly, without this expression our lives become hum drum and we miss out on life's greatest gifts; the chance to live our lives from a place of sacred love and divine connection to ourselves, others and our world...
With that said, there isn't a human being on the face of the planet that hasn't worn a mask of one kind or another and for each of us they are different and come in many forms, shapes and sizes. The masks that we've befriended and made a part of our personal wardrobe are many and can include but are not limited to a relentless drive for perfection, unbridled power and control, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the people we choose to associate with, the houses or neighborhoods we live in, the jewelry or "toys" we sport around, the make-up, the hair, the credential, the title, the job, the education, the status, the victim, the know-it-all, the do-gooder, the rescuer, the healer, the hero, the good girl or boy, the righteous one etc. etc. etc. Now, let it be heard and understood from a place of honor that there is no judgement or finger-pointing here only a passionate desire to share a message divinely given to be shared and to remind each of us the ultimate price we pay for making our lives a masquerade ball. This isn't to say that doing or being good or being this that or anything else is right or wrong in truth. However, when we begin the dance of using our masks to bolster us, protect or hide our authentic nature in anyway we've begun the masquerade and have moved away from the essence of our authenticity and are dishonoring the sacred wholeness of who we are by not embracing the human imperfections that make us uniquely us and open us to the prospect of being loved unconditionally. The good news however is that many of us have woken to the undeniable fact that life truly is short and know with certainty that it may take years or decades, but ultimately the revelation of that cost rears its ugliness in our lives in the form of unbearable unhappiness, depression, emptiness and isolation coupled with the distressing reality of irreplaceable time lost being someone we're not. This state of being can and often does take an alarming spiritual and emotional toll on our lives and physical health. Once revealed and unleashed we are forced to look at the skeleton of our authentic self in the mirror and either choose to shatter the "proverbial glass" reflecting our brokenness and once again step into our familiar armor or get out the "Windex" and compassionately wipe clean the image to get a better and more profound understanding of the reflection staring back at us. The choice is always ours to make and the repercussions of that choice are also ours to bear and celebrate.
Now that we've walked a thousand mile journey, the time has come for us to surrender our masks, gently cradle our broken spirit and finally... exhale!
"Do not touch me and keep your soul out of your fingertips...
Die into me or don't come to me at all. "
- Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Can We Talk: Volume II