I wore a mask for a pretty large chunk of my life and then one day I couldn’t keep it on. I just had to take it off, peel it or drag it out along with some of my skin, whatever it took I did, and still do. I was suffocating beneath that mask. Dear gentle readers and followers, this post was inspired by a great blog I came across recently and now follow with my entire 3 D’s (Determination, Discipline, Dedication)!
Defined and Classified
I think I had been defined and classified from childhood. I was defined as an outgoing person, an extrovert and a brave cum courageous and all girl. I was proud to be all that and happier to belong to the Class of those ‘marked out to make it in society’. ‘My world’ knew I had all I needed to make it in life and I mean, external life surely right? My dad had a ‘good job’, and we went to ‘good schools’. I was ‘smart’, ‘beautiful’ (this guarantees a good marriage for most I suppose), generous and even pious when need be. Hmm, how much I fitted into Conventional Society?
I grew up really feeling I belonged and dared not disappoint any one but myself. You know, you live with yourself all your life and you have to face yourself some day some how. But In the Meantime, I soared. I was bound to. What was the alternative? I had to fight for my brother, first physically and now emotionally. There were yet, some instances where I ‘derailed’ (my mask loosened its grip sort of), but em that was ok by ‘society’ – it can happen.
Crowning my ‘success’
Yes, to crown my success as was expected of a ‘normal and lucky girl like me’, I went through different schools and universities. I got some job or the other, and then got called to the prestigious Cameroon Bar Association. Before that, I got married to a ‘good man’. I even had kids, 3 boys for that much – any African knows the importance of having at least one son right? What a success? I ‘loved’ that mask. Indeed, it hadn’t failed me so far, I couldn’t afford to let it down. I could deal with any ‘hurts I had wearing it on each day’, I could deal with the ‘voices in my head’, simply put, I knew how to live parallel lives.
Did I really get it?
This is a good question I suppose. I think I did for a while and I had plans on sorting myself out in hiding you know! In one of our Advocates In Training workshops, I chose to present on ‘The Private Life of a Lawyer’. Premonition or what? Who was I making fun of? I knew all what I was doing in ‘private’ then but that was covered behind my mask right? And so, I think I got it then when I lectured to some applause how a ‘good lawyer’ had to carry on privately making sure his deeds never tainted his ‘public life’. The profession is a noble one and I even hear they bury their departed member face down (em, whatever that means – I may even opt to be cremated for all I care).
I couldn’t keep that mask on anymore
I just had to take it off. It was getting so unreal for me, I was hurting, aching, burning, hoping and wishing each day was going to be my last. One day, I picked up a knife, this was the ultimate. I am sure I scared even my unborn son. My Mask was so white and yet I was so black. I decided to sort it out my way because by then, I was already so depressed and mentally challenged enough to trust ‘those who had helped me put on that mask in the first place’. I thus relied on my own troubled guts and my ‘non-classified friends’ (actually classified as dangerous). The street kids, the rascals, the adulterers, the prostitutes.
I am happy I did, it has since then been all about honesty. I braved it, I dared it, I tamed it, and I stood up to it. I still do face several challenges both within and otherwise. I am just happy I no longer have a mask on. I decided not to blog with an acronym or other name than mine. It is no more about ‘crowning success’ and ‘living up to expectations’. It is no more about ‘making my parents family and society proud’. It is now about doing myself right, feeling right and advocating for right my way.
Dear gentle readers and followers, I have lost all what ‘crowned my success’ back then and even one of my dearest love. I may be disbarred from that noble and legal profession for this this much with my hitherto ‘private life’. I am now fully divorced, I left those same kids behind and get to visit them maybe once a year, I am starting all over so to say. At least, I don’t have a mask on, and wouldn’t dare help consciously put another one on someone’s face. And you?
mum, author, mental health advocate, therapist, inspires & motivates with personal experiences