I’m weary of playing pretend behind this heavy mask.
You know that point of insomnia where you get really weepy? Or Chuck Palahniuk’s, “everything is a copy of a copy?” The mask I wear feels like that lately. This mask on my face feels heavy. It’s not like I haven’t noticed the weight before, but for the first time, I feel the separation between my face and the mask. The space where the infancy of authenticity has taken root. The mere fact that the mask is a mask.
Recently, a friend of mine was murdered. She was one of those people whose fire you could feel even if you weren’t standing next to her, even if you were states away. This friend is a warrior. Her strength is the part of her spirit I want to honor and carry with me to do the work I am here to do. We can either stay treading the shallow water, just making ends come together or make sense, or we can head out into the deeper abyss, the way unknown. This is something that has taken me many years and many deaths to understand and accept.
For a long time, I wanted to remain in my grief under my mask, managing all the different emotions and facets of my person, managing all the trauma groves that hit when tragedy happens. I wanted to wail at the world for cheating me. Over and over. For taking so many of my close ones too soon. I wanted to see the world as this empty unfair and unforgiving place, that would continue to fuck me over until I was taken too.
I am not saying I never fall off the grieving train and scream “fuck, this is unfair.” I do, the tracks are slippery. But now I call myself back from these places, back to the work I am here for. This is how I honor the fallen warriors in my life. This is how I am paving the path to self-love.
I don’t just wear this mask for grief. I wear it all the time. To the store, to lectures. I have sanded and painted it so many times, I lost count. This mask hides away those things I have been told are bad, ugly, unwanted. We are disenchanted and if there was ever a time of this being blatantly obvious, it is now. So, I can stick to the carefully crafted reality-scape and pretend, all the while on the inside feeling stoic. Or I can activate, I can speak to the bigger mask this country wears and have it help me hang up both.