THE MASK I WEAR

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks-
   masks that I'm afraid to take off
     and none of them are me.      
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me
          but don't be fooled,
   for God's sake, don't be  fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure
That all is sunny and unruffled with me
   within as well as without,
    that confidence is my name
     and coolness my game,
    that the water's calm
   and I'm in command,
  and that I need no one.
But don't believe me. Please!

My surface may be smooth but my surface is my mask,
My ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.
Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.
Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.
   But I hide this.
    I don't want anybody to know it.
     I panic at the thought of my
            weaknesses
      and fear exposing them.
That's why I frantically create my masks
          to hide behind.  
They're nonchalant, sophisticated facades
          to help me pretend,
To shield me from the glance that
            knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation,
   my only salvation,
       and I know it.

That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
   and if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself
   from my own self-built prison walls

I dislike hiding, honestly
I dislike the superficial game I'm playing,
   the superficial phony game.
I'd really like to be genuine and me.
But I need your help, your hand to hold
Even though my masks would tell you otherwise
That glance from you is the only thing that assures me
   of what I can't assure myself,
     that I'm really worth something.

But I don't tell you this.
   I don't dare.
      I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me, that you'll laugh
   and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing,
        that I'm just no good
             and you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate, pretending game
With a facade of assurance without,
And a trembling child within.
So begins the parade of masks,

The glittering but empty parade of masks,
   and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that's nothing
   and nothing of what's everything,
                 of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
   do not be fooled by what I'm saying
Please listen carefully and try to hear
   what I'm not saying
Hear what I'd like to say
   but what I can not say.

It will not be easy for you,
   long felt inadequacies make my defenses strong.
The nearer you approach me
   the blinder I may strike back.
Despite what books say of men, I am irrational;
I fight against the very thing that I cry out for.
   you wonder who I am
    you shouldn't
     for I am everyman
     and everywoman
      who wears a mask.
Don't be fooled by me.
At least not by the face I wear.

-----author unknown and it has been published in a number of books and on the web.



See the peom about letting go being an act of love: Letting Go of Love
See the following for a group exercise using a mask: Group Mask Exercise
For more poems see: Resources


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