Hiding behind yourself

I dreamt last night that I had found a really good new mask to wear. It was white and slightly transparent so you could see my face through it. I knew people wouldn't be able to see my face clearly, so I was going to wear lots of black make-up around my eyes, kind of like in the first days of television when they exaggerated the make-up so it would look real on the screen.

The aim was for my blackened eyes to show through the mask and then people would see my eyes as normal. I have no idea how this was meant to work, it was a dream after all, but I remember the relief I felt at having a plan. I knew this one would work and I could relax at last.

Funny how you need a plan to relax. When most people think of relaxing, it's because they can forget everything, including planning, and just kick back. For me, I can't relax unless I have planned and know I'm ready for what might come.

Two things resonate in this dream: my need to plan and my need to have a mask that works. Do you see how it never occurred to me not to cover my face? How sad and strange!

I've often worried about how I present myself to the world and I know my feelings tramp across my face in hob-nailed boots. When I think I have them hidden, I'm aware of how much my eyes still show. And, in the dream, the eyes still showed because I made sure they did. Yet. even though I was making them more visible, I was also covering them with make up. I didn't cover them with a mask, like the rest of my face, but I still disguised them under war-paint.

In the dream, I was trying to explain to my mother why the make-up needed to be black and so bold. It was all over my eyes and it shone. I guess I looked like Cleopatra when she wakes up in the dumpster after an all-nighter. My mother wanted me to leave the make-up off but I told her, 'Then nobody will be able to see me.'

Again, the paradox. After hiding for so much of my life, I want a mask to keep myself safe in front of other people but then to highlight my eyes so they can see me - the very eyes which betray my feelings so often.

In the cold light of day, I have no desire to share my feelings with everyone by highlighting my eyes. The mask, though, I can see why I'd approve of that. Imagine the relief at finding just the right one and being able to feel safe when you go out into the world.

The eyes? They're a different matter. I guess part of me does want to share the real me with the world, so long as that self is protected by the mask and make-up. Possibly that's what we all want, even the most open of us. Who really wants to be naked and vulnerable in this bad old world?


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