Friday, May 18, 2012

Sigh No More: Losing the Costume

“Scar tissue has no character. It's not like skin. It doesn't show age or illness or pallor or tan. It has no pores, no hair, no wrinkles. It's like a slip cover. It shields and disguises what's beneath. That's why we grow it; we have something to hide. ” ~Susanna Kaysen, Girl Interrupted

“Yet, I didn't understand that she was intentionally disguising her feelings with sarcasm; that was usually the last resort of people who are timid and chaste of heart, whose souls have been coarsely and impudently invaded; and who, until the last moment, refuse to yield out of pride and are afraid to express their own feelings to you.” ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground
“Why do you wear a mask and hood?"
I think everybody will in the near future," was the man in black's reply. "They're terribly comfortable.” ~William Goldman, The Princess Bride
Yours Truly spent a good portion of last January contemplating both the usefulness and drawbacks to wearing costumes.  In case you don't recall, I mentioned the tragic loss of a certain Rainbow Brite Belt which I loved more than any accessory I have ever or will ever own.  During grade school, that Fierce Magnet Belt made me feel invincible.  I'd strap it on like Armour and march through the doors of Vigo Elementary School like Warrior ready to face any Playground Battle.  Sadly though, over time the Belt became Garage Sale Fodder, and I was forced to find a New Disguise, some other Shield that would keep me safe.  Of course, like everyone else, my Persona became my Armor: Smart, Friendly, but Completely Closed Off.  Self Sufficiency was the Key.  That meant forgoing any lasting attachments.  Without my Rainbow Brite Belt, I took great comfort in the fact that I could lose almost anyone and not mind.  Of course, age along with a couple History and Economics classes taught me that Self Sufficiency was not the most Efficient means of Survival.  If hoped to thrive, I was going to have to take my goods and services to the Marketplace and make an Exchange.  But Knowing the Right Step and Following Through with it are two different things.

The truth is we all wear costumes whether they are professional or personal, the Roles we play with our friends, co-workers, and family members.  In reality, those Hats are both useful and necessary to navigating through life.  But despite their utility, disguises can be dangerous because they are "terribly comfortable" and because over time we learn the consequence of walking around without them.  A costume is protection.  You see, that is where this Hysterical Gal stops.  The conversion always goes the same way.

Counselor: Why is letting someone in so frightening?

Me: Because caring leads to loss.  If you don't care then you can't be hurt by the outcome.

Its hard being Harley Quinn without your Mask
There it is.  I understand that logic is faulty, but it does nothing to ease my fear.   Yet, I know that the benefit of taking the costume off outweighs the cost.  With that knowledge in mind, since last January, I've been working on removing my disguise.  Being honest rather than playing it safe. Stepping back and holding on rather than lashing out and letting go.  Are you hoping for a success story?  Sorry, I have no idea what the conclusion of my tale will look like.  Listen, I'm the kinda Gal who buys Kittens only to have them die on me.  While I'm praying for success, my personal history suggests otherwise.  Then again, more General History shows Cultures which cling to Self Sufficiency tend to die out. So for now, here I stand, no Belt, no Mask, no Rubber Boots. Completely Exposed.   This caring thing is terrifying.  But maybe its worth the risk.  We'll see.

"Sigh No More" by Mumford and Sons is one of my favorite songs.  The lyrics "Love; it will not betray you, Dismay you or enslave you, it will set you free.  Be more like the man you were made to be" reminds me some things and people are worth the risk.  

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