When we are little there are lots of things that scare us. The possibility that Mom or Dad might leave scares us. Things that could be hiding under the bed or in the closet scare us. The frightening faces of Halloween scare us.

When we are bigger, and are grown up, other things scare us. The possibility of a lover, husband or wife leaving scares us. The possibility of going too deep into intimacy scares us. Being real scares us. Telling our true feelings scare us. Loving and being loved scares us. Finding out who we really are inside scares us. Maybe we are not so different from our children. Maybe we too hide behind different kinds of masks.

We hide behind words.

  • I really don’t care, which hides I’m afraid to tell you how much I care.
  • I’m not afraid, which hides please hold me.
  • It doesn’t matter, which hides I’m afraid to talk about my pain.
  • I’m fine, which hides I don’t know how to say I’m hurting.
  • What’s the point, which hides I’m afraid to change.
  • You don’t care, which hides I’m afraid you’ll leave me, so I leave first.
  • It’s your fault, which hides I’m responsible for my own reality.
  • There’s nothing I can do about it, which hides I don’t yet believe in myself.
  • Why bother, which hides I’ve lost my sense of power.
  • That’s just how things are, which hides I have given up.

We also hide behind cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, serial relationships and food. We hide behind interrogation, intimidation, guilt tripping, shame projecting and fault finding. Often we hide behind our fears and the lie that we tell ourselves about not being big enough to heal them. We hide behind the governments that make us do what we do. The lovers that make us act how we act and the bosses who hold us back from being who we really can be. We hide behind the people in our lives who won’t go first and who prevent us from being who we really are. Much of the time we hide behind what our parents did, or didn’t do, to us, as if being a parent comes with a complete set of tools and skills. We hide behind our pain as if feelings could kill us, our anger as if vulnerability was a bad thing, and our caustic sense of humor as if being real or loving was the same as being weak.

We hide behind busyness, rushing, appointments and too much to do. Sometimes we hide behind our church because we can always be forgiven. Or, our lovers who will love us no matter what we do or say that might be hurtful. We hide behind confusion, telling ourselves we don’t know where to find the truth. We hide behind the fear of caring too much, hurting too deeply or getting too involved to take a stand that changes the inequity and inhumanity in the world. Most of all we hide behind the lie that we don’t really know what is right, principled and spiritual.

Who knows, perhaps we could take a lesson from our children… consider the charade over … put down our masks and become real again. Maybe we would discover a safety, once lost, if we were to shed the protective facade that keeps us distanced from each other and our real feelings. Maybe we could find our true selves. There is a sense of relief that comes with being real. An added aliveness that allows us to step out of the shadows. No more spooky secrets to jump out and get us… no more boogie men behind untruths. No more costumes that hide the beauty and rightness of being who we really are.

Every feeling and thought we have is valid and expressing them all from a place of vulnerability is a place of great power. In that place where I honor all my feelings, I can honor yours as well, without judgment and without fear. Funny how that works. Just as in the light of day, the goblins and ghosts are seen for the nonsense they really are, so too our fear diminishes when we are standing in truth. Feelings, when brought into the light, prove to be nothing more… than simply feelings. Hmmm… I wonder…. do we adults have the courage to take off our masks when the kids do?

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013
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