As I mentioned previously, for a lot of my life I have “worn” a mask.
The main purpose of this mask was to hide things I was not happy or comfortable with from others. Not in a deceptive way. But to avoid revealing to much of what actually made me tick. And to present to the world what I thought the world would find acceptable. Thought is the wrong word actually. That implies a conscious process which it was not. My view of what the world would find acceptable was shaped, as with everybody, by a number of things. But initially, of course, by the context of my upbringing.
My mask of choice, but not exclusively, was that of jester or clown. I have also often referred to it as a conjurer’s trick. If I divert people’s attention to the confident, loud, outgoing, comic performance of the left hand then people may not notice the reality of the the unhappy, confused, shy person of the right hand.
I guess I believed that the mask was useful and doing a good job. But in hindsight, and after a lot of work, I can see that was wrong. Eventually you lose sight of where the reality starts and the mask ends. And more importantly the mask becomes not just a screen to others but to yourself. In the end you just bury important things behind the mask. You end up with a lot of unresolved issues which include hurt, anger and resentment. From a report by the psychologist I worked with last year. “I would suggest that this tendency to suppress so much of himself likely led to a lot of his difficulties with depression over the years and made him more vulnerable to the post traumatic stress symptoms, since his natural way of coping was again to suppress the uncomfortable feelings and push himself harder.” And she is totally correct of course. Not just because she is a wonderfully intuitive and insightful psychologist, but also because she got a lot of the information from talking things through with me. The one thing I believed was my shield was actually a sword that was going to turn inwards on me.
That does not explain, of course, why this particular incident at this particular time sparked PTSD. There were others that might have done. Accumulation could have been a factor. But there was another precipitating factor that predisposed me, especially at that time; another person in fact. I will write about that another time.