From the time I was a small child, I did not use my voice and hid in the background to keep under the radar. As a result, I became what people wanted me to be. I was labeled, “The good, quiet one.” I was fearful of rejection, so I became a people pleaser. I believed the lie that if I were perfect, I would be loved. That’s when I started wearing a mask.
My need for love and acceptance caused me to hide parts of myself. I only showed the good sides so people would love me. Then, when I was 12 years old, I started sneaking whiskey from my parents’ liquor cabinet. Now, I was really hiding. I didn’t want my parents to find out. They were very strict with me being the oldest, and I didn’t want them to be angry or disappointed in me.
As I got older, my sins were more and more grievous, and my secrets became bigger and bigger. So, I isolated even more and hid everything. My mask morphed as I got older. As a child, I strived for perfection. I was a good student, good athlete, and an all-around good child. When that wasn’t working, I tapped into a lifestyle of alcohol, drugs and sex. When I was home, I was still the good one. But in high school, I was hanging out with those who smoked and did drugs.
At this point, people pleasing ruled my life. All I strove for were accolades from others and a place I could fit in and feel safe. But I would not find that for a long time. Honestly, I lost my own identity because I wanted to fit in with others. I no longer knew what I liked or what I wanted to do because I became a chameleon and changed depending upon the group I was with. I had lost my own identity striving to please others.
I felt unloved and lost. My drinking and drug use were out of control. I was a walking time bomb. I hated myself and felt so depressed. I struggled with keeping it all together. When I found out I was pregnant as a 21-year-old college student, I panicked. This pregnancy did not fit the narrative I was allowing my parents to see. I was not the good, quiet one. I was doing very ungodly, sinful destructive things, and now I was going to terminate my baby’s life.
How did I end up here? My whole life was a lie. I will have an abortion and act as if everything was fine. But everything wasn’t fine. After this traumatic event, I was more depressed than before, crying all the time and drinking more. My self-loathing and suicidal thoughts were now continually plaguing me. I just wanted to die so this torment would stop. It was too hard to keep up this façade. Slowly my mask was cracking, and I was so afraid of being exposed. All my sins and lies would come flooding out. I was scared.
In my early 30’s I had a physical and emotional break down. I could not function normally at all. I would lay on the couch for weeks at a time. All the years of stuffing and lying and all the pain I had been holding in all my life were starting to come out sideways. I was a walking volcano, spilling hot ash on anyone who got in my way. I was extremely emotional. I felt I could not look anyone in the eyes because if I did, I would not be able to stop crying.
Slowly I started recognizing I needed help. I needed someone who would love me, accept me, and heal me. I needed a Savior. Then on January 2, 1994, I heard the gospel for the first time. Within 4 weeks I gave my heart to Jesus, confessed my sins, turned from my old ways and turned toward God. I am coming up on the 26th anniversary of my salvation, and it is still the sweetest day of my life. It is the day I finally surrendered my life to God and allowed Him to heal my broken body, my broken heart and my broken mind. He transformed me into the woman He created me to be: a loving, confident woman filled with joy and peace. I have been adopted into the family of God; I am accepted, and I am finally loved. I feel safe to be me. I can take the mask off now because I am finally home.
Are you wearing a mask?
What does your mask look like?
Do you have the courage to take off the mask and be real?
I pray that as God heals you, you will be filled with His love and you will have the courage to take off your mask.