UNMASKED

Written for White Magazine

“Lady Wisdom calls—can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice? She’s taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection … ‘I’m telling you how to live well, I’m telling you how to live at your best. My mouth chews and savours and relishes truth.’”—Excerpts from Proverbs 8.

I ask myself rhetoric questions to see what answers subconsciously return. That way, the answers can be delivered intuitively without the expectation of needing to be rounded, because they are indeed questions asked—open-ended.

Our truest stance always comes easy when the curtains are open, the moon is high and the sun after midnight has permission to rise unguardedly. So here I am. It’s a Friday night. The candles bloom and tomorrow is spacious in all its beauty. Who cares if the tears fall and the answers are ugly?

I delve, I ask, and I let the truth find me, asking myself the bold questions with vulnerability: “Do I walk around the living room of marriage with a mishmash of masks collected over time? Do I dance my song with an array of masks gathered to portray a hoped aroma—concealing who I am really called to be?” The questions fly freely around the coral-coloured walls of our 1960s shack and I let the returning words banter with themselves as I collect them like glimmering dragonflies, one by one.

For the longest time in my early 20s, I masqueraded around sheepishly as though I had nothing to say. Masking my most colourful and beautiful parts, dumbing them down, stripping them of their dignity, burying them, hiding them and painting them with a false mask so that I could never be seen as “too much”.

I was very aware that the ruffling of feathers was indeed an open field I didn’t have the boldness for, so I kept myself composed and neatly packaged, habitually conditioning myself quiet; so quiet that my reflection mirrored a very polite mask; a mask constructed by my own bare hands. A chameleon of life.

It wasn’t until my first taste of love that I found myself in a place where I was able to recognise my masks. I commanded them to step off their thrones and surrender. I was led here by my deep desire to have an intimate connection with the man I would spend my forever with. It was at this moment I realised how much I had censored myself. The revelation was awakening yet alarming, liberating yet confronting.

The tenacious delver in me wanted nothing more than to burrow to the bottom of it, shake it off, dance it out, and ask myself the real questions all in the name of LOVE. Who am I, anyway? Did I even know how to be brutally honest with myself? Who am I created to be? What is my purpose? I let myself run full tilt into the questions and let Lady Wisdom lead.

Humans learn through patterns, and through a pattern that has taken shape in my life by the likes of the most consistent man I have ever known I have found myself in this beautiful place of surrender. My lover living life fully and openly, gently led me down a path of truth where no stone was left unturned, embracing all parts of me, calling me lovely, and drawing out my most colourful eccentricities—nothing alarmed him. The more I shared, the greater his love. It was clear that he himself had encountered a love so perfect he was able to intimately show his true self, unmasked and without fear. He entered our love adventure with his masks left on the ground, and in turn I chose to take off mine.

I write this next string of thoughts with every fibre of internal conviction. It’s become the rhythm of my heart, the beat of my revelation:

All unmasking and intimacy I have ever come to see unfold in our marriage has taken flight from one non-negotiable truth and that is, choosing to be a communicator.

Be a conversationalist. Even if you are not naturally that way inclined, choose it. You can never talk too much. Just talk and talk and talk until there is no more to talk about. It’s in the talking that our self-created defences and masks casually fade without the need to fight to get them to surrender—we barely even need to command them to leave. When we talk, they romantically fall to the ground in the light of truth.

A dear friend once said to me that it’s in the telling of our stories that we find freedom (unmasking). Each time we tell our story we reach a new level of boldness in revealing truth and the layers that engulf our story. We can tell our stories until Lady Wisdom leads us to a conclusive victory. This is what I like to think of as a mask growing wings and flying away, the resolve is the wind.

Masks conceal, but I’m thankful for the Zorro mask my love wore when chasing me whilst nervously shaking underneath it. I needed a confident man, someone who knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to go for it. His confident love was my undoing. Maybe some masks have their place. Or maybe masks of this nature could be kindly referred to as a cloak—you know those days when you put on a cloak of joy? Even when you’d much rather be moping around in your stripey pyjamas. Sometimes we need to choose a better approach to a day, situation or circumstance to find victory—even when we feel like avoiding it or masking it. The choice to wear a cloak is not a mask but a decision to maturely partner with Lady Wisdom to fearlessly make the trek to freedom’s destination. It’s a matter of not letting our emotions dictate our decisions, because we all know that emotions tell fibs. It is the fibs that create these masks.

When a mask makes its home over us, fear is the gate in which it enters and makes itself a resident, compelling us to cling to the comfort of all that is mediocre. It takes a listening ear to hear Lady Wisdom whisper her revelations—let the rebel in you call her out, strip her off and sway into freedom, because keeping a mask is a lot more work than taking it down. So why not just have some truths with your next cup of tea? Don’t let another moon settle on the brow of your mask, choose the uncomfy and dance accordingly. Your bravery will be rewarded with intimacy, connection and freedom as you shed your skin and find your heart. A mask can’t stick to you when your arms are in the air and your feet are moving to the beat of victory’s call.