“A woman discovers at a very young age that wearing a mask appears to be a part of survival. They discover there is much of themselves, which others see as unacceptable. They tuck those secrets away.” This introduction I got from the web site titled *The Power to Change*. On the same site, in an article called *A Healing Journey*, author Angie Cote explains WHY we keep secrets:
We conceal out of fear and shame. We fear rejection. What if – if we expose ourselves and lay ourselves bare – we are abandoned by our friends, our family, or perhaps even ridiculed by our enemies. We fear that our projected persona would become tarnished if we showed who we really are. We may feel that to be acceptable to others we must look good at all costs. Perhaps we keep secrets in a futile attempt to erase our past.
I decided to write this article after looking at a Super Soul Sunday episode where Oprah was interviewing licensed clinical psychologist Robin L. Smith, Ph.D. Prior to switching on the television, I had been rewriting a couple pages on my web site. I’d wandered in my career, trying this, doing that; but in the last 52 days (I’ve been counting <smile>) it has become VERY clear to me that people really need my help in eliminating the emotional barriers that keep them stuck or going backwards or else they are never going to live their truth and do the things that only they were meant to do on this particular leg of the journey. The Universe always sends me confirmation that I am on the right track, and that confirmation came as I switched on the TV.
Smith was talking about emotional anorexia. Emotional anorexia is a real state of being, just like physical anorexia. When our emotional hunger is ignored, neglected, denied, shamed, blamed or misunderstood, “it makes us even hungrier,” she said so much so that “the more we ignore our hunger pains, the stronger our cravings become, leading us to act out destructively.”
She went on – “I realized that for so much of my life, I was hungry for a real life and a real me. I had spent so much time focused on pleasing others. I had been filling myself full of crumbs, emotional crumbs, when what I really wanted was a meal. My hardships helped me see that what I was hungry for was myself, for true fulfillment.”
Oprah was stunned that a woman so well put together, who looked like everything was going well for her was feeling this way. Which begs me to ask the question: How many of us are holding it together for the world, wearing our masks, and keeping our secrets close to heart so no one will find out the truth about us?
What scares me is that for the majority of us this would be true. Even scarier is that as we try to hold our public persona intact, we are slowly dying to ourselves. The real “us” is dying, shriveling up, and becoming almost nonexistent. This is not good.
There is a need to talk about what’s going on in our lives, so we are not completely obliterated in our effort to conceal.
Take this 43 year old mom of two called Karen, whose husband of almost 16 years has Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, who started a blog with the backing and encouragement of friends. She writes to share their story in the hope that someone will read her words and feel compelled to do something – to donate money, time or services to an organization like the Alzheimer’s Association or maybe a smaller one in their local area that helps families facing this long journey. To share their story with friends because she is asked every week how is Jim, how she and the kids are and how she does it? She writes because there are tons of others in this world that are going through similar situations. “I speak out for them. For those that don’t have a voice or at this point just aren’t able to share their tale.”
In a piece called facade. Karen shares “I am a facade. Standing in front of the world with my hair curled, makeup on and put together outfit. I look like a woman with a career. A woman with the perfect life. I can see it sometimes…how envious those that don’t know are of me. How ironic. But I am a liar. It is a farce to everyone I meet…. I feel I am constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I am one tiny slip up away from letting it all crumble down around me. I am one brick removed away from my protective wall from running into a dark forest and never returning. I am not who I purport to be in my work get-up and my strong presence in meetings and networking events and school events and gatherings of any kind. I seem so together and strong and unbreakable. It is funny how putting on the right outfit, sliding on the right bracelet and earrings and necklace and heels can almost make it seem as if you don’t have this second life you are surrounded by. It is so surreal; as I am being one person, I can feel the other person that is desperate and scared and lonely watching and shaking her head in amazement. I am not just one person. I am not really two people. I am multiple people. I am the Karen that shows up for work each day, trying desperately to keep her job.
In a review of Dr. Smith’s book *Hungry: The Truth About Being Full*, author Jessica Collins Grimes shares that the key to breaking free of emotional anorexia is to become “consciously and compassionately awake” to your feelings, thoughts and actions. “Many people have hidden their hunger and desires for so long they don’t even know what’s real anymore,” Smith says. “Pay attention to and ask yourself what you’re truly hungry for, what would really satisfy you, and no longer settle for crumbs instead of a meal.”
You can only mask what’s really going on for so long before either YOU begin to crumble or life begins to crumble around you! Ultimately, Smith says, we are the ones responsible for our own breakthrough. “Our hunger isn’t something to be ashamed of, but is something we should nurture, care for, address and attend to,” she emphasizes. “Once we know what we’re looking for, we can use that information to build a healthy, rich and satisfying life.”