Behind the Mask
Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear,
For I wear a thousand faces that I’m afraid to take off –
And none of them are me.
Pretending is an art that’s second nature to me but don’t be fooled,
For God’s sake, don’t be fooled.
I give 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 is my game;
The water’s calm and I’m in command,
And that I need no one,
But don’t believe me, PLEASE.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is a mask.
Beneath this lies no compliance;
Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, fear and aloneness,
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness and fear of being exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind;
A nonchalant sophisticated façade;
To help me pretend, to shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation,
And I know it.
That is if it’s followed by acceptance, if it’s followed by love –
It’s the only thing that will assure me of what I can’t assure myself of,
That is – I’m worth something.
But I don’t dare tell you this. I don’t dare. I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid you glance will not be followed by acceptance and love.
I’m afraid that deep down I’m nothing, that I’m no good,
And that you will see this and reject me.
So, I play any game, my desperate game.
With a façade of assurance without, and a trembling child within –
And so begins that parade of masks and my life become a charade.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that is really nothing,
And nothing of what’s everything –
Of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine don’t be fooled by what I’m saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying –
What I’d like to be able to say;
What, for survival, I need to be able to say, but what I can’t say.
I dislike hiding. HONESTLY!
I dislike the superficial game I’m playing, the phony game.
I’d like to be genuine, and spontaneous, and me.
But you’ve got to help me. You’ve got to hold out your hand,
Even when that is the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes the blank stare of breathing death,
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind and gentle and encouraging,
Each time you try to understand because you really care,
My heart begins to grow wings, very small wings, very feeble wings, but wings.
With your sensitivity and sympathy and your power of understanding,
You can breathe life into me. I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me.
How you can be a creator of the person that is me, if you chose to.
Please choose to. You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble.
You alone can remove the mask.
You alone can release me from my shallow world of panic and uncertainty.
PLEASE – don’t pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach me the blinder I strike back.
I fight against this very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than walls and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls with strong hands –
But gentle hands …. For a child is very sensitive.
Who am I, you wonder. I am someone you know very well –
For I am every man you meet and I every woman you meet.