I am not alone. I am not the only person with these deep, dark, scary, lonely feelings that roam around in my head. There are others just like me. I am not unworthy. I am not unloved. I am useful. — I work each and every day to remind myself of these things. Sometimes, I remember. Sometimes, I don’t. It’s an on-going battle in my mind.
As I travel along these winding roads while on this journey of learning to deal with my depression, I will be sharing my thoughts, my fears, my experiences, and my accomplishments with you. I hope that you will also share with me and our other readers.
Have I decided upon a destination for this journey? Absolutely. I strive each and every day to reach that sometimes illusive light at the top of the hole. Do you know about that light? I am sure that you have all heard that expression “the light at the end of the tunnel,” right? Well, in my world, I haven’t even made it above ground so that I can reach the tunnel. I have lived in a deep, dark hole for the majority of my life. I have been lucky at times. There have been moments when I was blessed to live above ground, to live among the happy dwellers and those times were precious. I hope to one day reach that light at the top of the hole, climb out, and STAY OUT.
But, I have to be honest. Most of the time I spent above ground was done so because of my ability to hide behind a vast assortment of masks. Oh, my masks — I have so many of them. I feel like I should introduce myself to people by saying, “Hi. My name is Betty and I am addicted to masks.” But, I wouldn’t do that because I very seldom take the initiative to introduce myself to anyone.
I wore the “good daughter” mask as often as I could while growing up. And of course there was the “successful student” mask that I wore through my high school and college years. And there was the “happy wife” mask that was worn in the early years of my marriage. It became harder and harder to put that mask on after a few years and after 25 years, I finally got the courage to throw that mask away. At that point, I was given a new mask — the “divorced woman” mask, the one that screams “failure” to many on-lookers. I also had the necessary “good teacher” mask that was worn for 30 years. I also had the “good friend” mask that I thoroughly enjoyed wearing. When wearing that mask, I was actually able to enjoy my time spent with friends. I didn’t put that mask on very often because by purposefully interacting with others, you set yourself up to be hurt. And, of course, I can’t leave off my most precious mask, my “good mama” mask. Oh, how I loved that mask! It allowed me to give birth to three children who still amaze me at times. This mask allowed me to do what I’d always wanted to do — completely love someone with all of my heart and be loved in return. And, sadly, I am the owner of an “amazing Grams” mask. I say sadly because while wearing that mask, I am always afraid that my grandchildren will somehow see through the mask and think that they have been cheated. I can’t leave off my “strong Betty” mask (which I never believed was successful) as well as my “everything is fine” mask that I could (and still do) wear in conjunction with other masks. I normally put these masks on when I am going to be around my children. They know me and they know that I have problems. So, I do my best to always have on these masks when around them. These two are the masks that I think I hate the most. I hate having to pretend that I am “strong” and capable and worthy and happy. And the “everything is fine” mask is such a lie that even I don’t fall for it. Wearing either of these two masks is just absolutely draining to the body, mind, and soul. About six years ago, it became increasingly harder and harder to put on any of my masks and finally I reached the point where I just couldn’t do it. I broke. I shattered. I wanted to just give up. I spent an entire summer trying to get up the nerve to take a bottle of pills but I was even a failure at that. I prayed each and every day to be able to just give up.
Thankfully (although I wasn’t thankful at the time), I had a serious health scare that took away that desire. We will talk about this at a later date. There are also many more masks that I have worn from time to time throughout the years, but we will talk about them in future posts, also. For now, it’s just important for me to say that my prayer is that I can gather all my masks and get rid of them at some point in the future. If you, also, have those dreaded, but necessary, masks that you wear, I pray that at some point you can get rid of them also.
Come join me on my journey. Hopefully, we will all reach our destination of life above with ground with no masks.