When it feels unsafe to show myself I sneak through in sudden slivers cracks in the glass, window shards tiny spotlight beams shining out revealing the very worst parts of me A charming flame behind a hearth that cracks and pops quick embers to be franticly stamped out on the rug not fit for polite company or the presence of people who turn away from the dancing heat I don't know if I've ever seen someone else who hides like I do, or maybe they're just better at holding up their painted pleasing mask no sudden tears out of seemingly no where to surprise and confuse a perfect evening Surely people must wonder at the moments I lose the carefully crafted composure I've clutched after days of endless, irritating effort with others they must feel the sudden shift of energy in the room when I shrivel inward, when I turn cold and quiet Giving myself a few moments' respite from the white-knuckled grip on my own struggling soul a second to catch my breath and be real retracting my artificial warmth from an otherwise empty room Occasionally I'll hear a half-hearted, "What's wrong?" that is easily assuaged by a hollow, "Nothing, I'm fine." a confirmation of being utterly unseen happy to believe me and go back to pretending as soon as I reapply the artificial smile Unlike the rare few who know they've now seen behind the uncanny valley facade of self they don't let it go when I step back behind the screen no longer satisfied with what they've realized is fake brave enough to seek me There aren't many people who care to uncover the glimmer that steals between the cracks most people easily accept the mask I suit them better that way I'm used to not being seen
The Unedited Self
First loves, I've learned can cut to the quick because we haven't quiet learned yet how to conceal our worst qualities There is a certain magnetism in someone who has seen our deepest flaws but chooses to love us despite them there is a humbling awe in such acceptance Not to insinuate that later lovers would not be as generous of heart rather that the older we get the less chance we give them After adolescence we get so good at hiding away all the parts of ourselves that we aren't proud of hidden under a heavy layer of secret shame Only those who've always known me have seen who I truly am unedited before I crafted the silk screen of self I've erected for protection No opinion of love or hate can touch me as it once did there is a certain safety in isolation but the soul withers without sunlight Unconditional love is hard to come by when you won't allow yourself to be known maybe the world would surprise me but I fear I'll never let myself find out
I realized that I prefer damaged people. People who have made mistakes. People who are still struggling. People who are like me. There is a bubble of tension that seems to burst when I am in the company of these people. I feel like I can breathe, like I don’t have to hide who I really am.
Around most people I feel like I am putting on a show. I play my character, repeat rehearsed lines, and smile wide. It’s not that I’m being completely fake. That character I play is made of parts of me. I just edit out all the parts I fear I’ll be judged for. Maybe everyone is doing this to an extent. But for me it feels like I spend the majority of my time in this character. It’s exhausting to be continuously moving these marionette strings.
When I find someone who I know has suffered or is currently suffering, I feel an immediate kinship with them. I gravitate towards these people. I feel comfortable around them. I feel like I can finally be myself without fear of judgement. I feel understood.
I wish I was able to feel this way all the time, with everyone I interact with. Maybe no one would look down on me or think critically of me if they knew who I am. But it’s that fear of not being understood that causes me to keep most people at an arm’s length. And while wearing this mask makes me feel more comfortable and safe, it also keeps me from truly connecting with the majority of the people in my life. It doesn’t really mean much if all the people that like you don’t really know you.