“Be Today Who You Want to Become Tomorrow”
I read this line in a blog post recently. My first thought?
If only it were that simple.
I have played this game. I have worn a mask and acted “as if” for most of my life. Been the person I wanted to become. But it didn’t change who I was inside. I wasn’t fooled, though perhaps those around me were, to some degree, at least for a time. It just delayed the inevitable; the day of reckoning. That moment when I had to face the truth of who I truly was. But time made that moment more difficult, clouding reality.
Being who I wanted to be tomorrow didn’t make me into that person when I reached today.
I wanted to be free. Whole. Happy. Successful. Confident. Capable. I acted that way. Pretended to be that person. Worked hard at achieving. Distanced myself from the hurting, broken person who still lay curled up deep inside of me. I denied her existence, making myself into the person I desired to be.
Nothing changed. The mask was still a mask. The lie did not become the truth. My broken soul is still broken.
There may be times when it works. There may be circumstances where being today (outwardly) the person you want to be (inwardly) tomorrow will work. In some situations, that may be enough to drive change and create actions that will lead you to become who you want to be. But with massive childhood trauma I experienced, when pursuing wholeness, it has not worked for me.
Could it be because of the reason I began to wear the mask? The reason I wear it still?
I wear the mask to hide. To hide my brokenness and pain. I wear it to protect others from my ugliness. So they will not see my abnormalities. So I will not be rejected further.
I wear it to gain a certain degree of acceptance.
If I were wearing the mask to learn to be outwardly what I already am inwardly, perhaps then it would it work. If the mask was only used to helped me to release my dream or desire until I learned to feel confident in my skin, would it then be appropriate and effective?
If the inside self simply needs to be released, perhaps being today who you want to become tomorrow makes sense.
But if the inside self needs to be healed, acting today like who I want to become tomorrow becomes a way to escape. It has been the way I have escaped my own reality and in doing so, I have neglected taking the path I needed to take to change and become whole. I pulled the wool over my own eyes.
I am the master of pulling the wool over my own eyes.
I wish I had not run from myself. I wish I had gazed into the mirror long, long ago and taken an honest assessment. I wish I had sought help about how to get from where I was to where I wanted to go. Devised a plan, even if it was difficult and costly. Then taken the steps early on. I believe this would have changed, drastically changed, the course of my life.
Had I done this, I believe I would now be who I wanted to become. Or at least, I would be closer to being that person.
Ah, but it is too late for such musings. Now, all that is left me is to start from where I am to try to find a path forward. I took the right steps at the wrong time and they led me to this place of desolation. I fear that whatever I may do now will lead me nowhere. I fear the season of change and becoming has come…and gone.
Pretending to be who I wanted to become failed. I needed help. I needed to take certain action and get specific help when I was yet pliable. Willing myself to be who I wanted to be without addressing who I already was has led to the destruction of my life. It has led me far astray. It was what I thought I was supposed to do. It was what I thought was required of me. It was how I thought I would leave the old me behind. But I was deceived.
I needed to do a gap analysis when I was still very young. I needed to confront reality. Acknowledge it. Find resources to meet my needs and to help me heal. Work through the awful sludge before it became hardened concrete. Re-form it. Repair it. Rebuild. Free myself from the shame of not being who I should be by embracing who I was. And instead of hiding away in the darkness behind a semi-comfortable mask, I should have allowed the light to shine on all the ugliness within me until it was revealed. Examined. Extricated. Then and only then could transformation begin. Then and only then could I begin to be today the person I wanted to be tomorrow.
In some ways, I have become the mask. Fake. Hollow. Superficial. Hiding all that is inside me, that mask offers some protection, but not conversion. I am without connection because the “I” that I present to the world does not exist. Only the mask now exists. One-dimensional. Lifeless. I swallowed whole the message of shame, so stayed away and out of sight, allowing others only veiled glimpses of the real me. The mask did not make me who I longed to be. It made me into the mask. Empty. Dead. Rigid. Impenetrable. All because I didn’t embrace the me that was. All because I picked up the mask, wore it, swore by it. It kept me from true transformation. Offered nothing but a cheap and easy substitution. And now, I pay the price.
I am not who I wanted to be today because I never faced who I was. Who I am. I have lived and will likely die in the mask. For the mask that was once my protector has slowly and surely become my coffin.