Alison's Insights

Accepting Mid-Life Addiction Recovery One Slow Deep Breath At A Time

The Mask

While I was shopping today,  it seemed I couldn’t turn around without seeing a Halloween mask of some sort.   Apparently you can buy one anywhere short of my dry cleaner.

I smiled thinking of how fun it is for kids to wear a mask in order to become something or someone they are not.  They have fun “tricking” friends and family knowing they can get away with it because for this one day, their mischievous behavior would not get them into any really serious trouble.

There’s an awful lot of retail effort that goes into a holiday whereby for 24 hours, everyone morphs into something they are not.

As I got into my car, I realized something.  There was a mask I never had to buy.  That was the mask I hid behind for decades. 

It was the one wore believing I could trick people into thinking I was someone I was not.  I wore it assuming I could get away with acting and behaving based on what I thought I was expected to be.  If I was at work, what did I think my bosses, my clients and my staff expect of me?  At home, what did my husband expect of me?  If I was with friends and family, what did I think they expected of me?

That mask also allowed me to hide the real, deep seeded pain I was feeling because I was not living authentically.  It provided a wall of protection, allowing me to get away with the “mischievous” behavior of addiction … not for a day, but decades.   

Not once did I take into consideration who I believed I could be.  I refused to look in the mirror and see behind the mask.  I was who you wanted me to be and nothing else.  I lost sight of what I wanted for myself as far back as grade school.    

By the time I got into recovery and was told I needed to begin finding out who the woman was behind the mask, I about fell apart.  I pushed really hard against that idea.  I was terrified to find that woman might end up rejected by everyone I loved and cared about because my life would have been seen as a sham.

The funny thing about residential treatment is, the ones in charge don’t care much about what I wanted.  That kind of decision-making got me there.  Thus, my focus couldn’t be outward anymore.  I had to focus inward and take a good look at the woman behind the mask.  If I didn’t, I’d never get out from underneath my life of addiction. 

So I did.  Off came the mask and on went my life.

And just like before bed on Halloween night as relieved moms and dads remove masks revealing the faces of their little ghosts and goblins, all
those who love me are more than relieved to finally see the face of my true self.

 

 

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