“All it takes is a beautiful, fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice just how broken you really are.” -Robin Williams
Everyone has their masks. Some use them to become someone their not; others just to hide their dark secrets. But, as Nathaniel Hawthorne once stated,
“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”
For many with chronic pain, it is a means of trying to live a normal life. We use them to hide the great burden we carry because, one, we just want to pretend for a moment that there is no pain, and two, we do not want to burden others with our pain. Just as many comedians use humor to conceal their inner turmoil, we try to find creative ways of presenting the illusion that “everything is alright”.
In my days of acting, I found it very easy to mold myself into the different characters I played. When I had finished performing as a particular character, I would then shed that persona like a snake sheds its old skin and return to my normal self. This skill came in handy when APS entered my life. In a sense, I have two masks, one for my friends and one for public. Sadly, it is my own family that sees my true face: a face of pain, suffering, and even anger at times. One of my friends even made the statement at one point, “You are probably one of the best actors I know, hiding that pain and all.”
The same can be said for all of us with chronic pain. We have become “masters of disguise”. The only problem with this is that when we reveal that we suffer with chronic pain, people give us weird looks, like we are making it up.
This is why we must be careful, because if we continue to act like all is well, we can easily, from others’ perspectives, lose our humanity. If we don’t watch out, we can be like someone who is drowning, but no one sees them struggling.
Today, take time to give people a glimmer of your struggle. No, it will not be easy, but it will show people that, yes, you are human and are struggling.
Andre Berthiaume said,
“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”