The other day I was driving to work, crying.
I normally drive to work, but not usually crying. In fact, the crying is very rare and only certain things set me off; men crying in films, confrontation and cutting onions.
I’m not great at mornings and so often forgo things in order to get more sleep; hair, makeup, breakfast. Over time I realised that I could sleep for a little longer if I did my makeup in the car. I have a reasonably long drive to work, which means I can get away with doing most of my makeup whilst stuck in traffic and at traffic lights.
So this particular morning, I had left for work with my makeup undone and the tears sporadically falling. I figured that once I got these pesky tears under control, I could start my makeup routine. Any girl can tell you there’s no point bothering with mascara if there’s a potential for tears. What a mess.
But just when I thought I had them under control, they’d start back up again. It was a disaster. I was nearly halfway there and I hadn’t started my makeup. Eventually I just decided I needed to get this show on the road and even if it meant I had to touch up my makeup, I should at least start. Weird thing was, as soon as I started to actually apply the makeup – I instantly stopped crying and the tears never came back. BAM, crisis averted.
Immediately I was hit with the incredible symbolism of that moment. That I literally was covering up my face and in doing so, covering up my pain. Hiding it away under a layer of Napoleon & Lancôme.
Does this kind of moment sound at all familiar to anyone?
Perhaps it’s a big but fake smile that you’ve perfected over the years. Perhaps it’s a busy routine that stops you from feeling. Perhaps it’s a critical spirit or an intense sense of humour or a perfectly curated instagram feed. Layers and layers of “makeup” so perfectly applied that you’ve forgotten you were hurting in the first place.
What’s your go to mask? What do you do to hide the pain that you’re experiencing? What’s your routine that prevents you from being real and vulnerable with people?
Masks are deceptive little things.
With my makeup mask firmly in place – it was incredible easy for me to move on with my day. I could pretend it had never happened. It didn’t have any impact. It didn’t hurt. I’m good, over it – ‘look how perfect my face (life) is’.
With my makeup mask firmly in place – it would have been easy to arrive at work and pretend like nothing had happened. How ridiculous to answer ‘how are you this morning?’ with a ‘not great actually’. How crazy to ask for help, for someone to talk to?
The problem with masks is twofold.
You stop yourself from healing, actually forgiving and forgetting. The mask tricks you. You didn’t actually work through it – you covered it up. When you take your “makeup” off at the end of the day, all that grit is still there.
You also prevent anyone from being a part of the healing process. The mask tricks people and says ‘back off – I don’t need you’. You prevent relationship – which when you’re alone, mask-less – is all you really crave. Honest and real relationship.
The whole thing is crazy. No one wants to hide his or her pain all day. No one wants to shun honest relationship. So, how do we stop? How do we get better at being honest with each other, with ourselves?
I don’t really know. But writing this was step 1 for me.
I want to learn how to be real and vulnerable. And not just because it’s trendy to be authentic but because masks are tiring and toxic for me and for you. It prevents me from dealing with the not so perfect parts of life and it prevents you from connecting with me – the real me. Yuck.
When I figure out step 2, maybe I’ll let you know.