As my regular readers will know I love a routine, but my routine has had to change. I now have to put on, and remove, makeup. I’ve never really been a makeup person. I used to have to wear it for dancing shows, well foundation, blue eye shadow and red lipstick! I then tried out a few things at school, but… well… quite frankly… I could never be bothered. I’ve never really had any need, I’ve got pretty great skin but then…
… then I wrecked my face! I have to say, my skin has cleared up pretty well, but there are marks, some rather glaringly obvious, so I am wearing makeup. Why do I feel the need? I guess, I don’t want to invite questions. So I’m covering it up. Quite regularly I think, maybe I could get away without it, but then I remove it, look in the mirror and realise how necessary it is.
Don’t we all wear disguises of some description? I was talking to some colleagues last week, we were talking about weaknesses. We each shared our own weaknesses. I said that one of my biggest weaknesses was that I had to check talks/assemblies/sermons before I had the confidence to give them publically. My colleagues were shocked. Similarly we were shocked by the confessions of weakness of others. Another colleague was saying how shocked she was that I was off sick, apparently I would be the last person she would expect to be off with anxiety. Why is this? Because we put on disguises.
Superheroes always have costumes – capes are dangerous – which is the real costume? Do they even know which is their real persona? Why do superheroes have costumes? Protection, so they can have some down time.
The idea of make-up has made me think. Is it necessarily a bad thing that we have disguises? I don’t think so. In fact, in a way, I think it is important. I know that I am a very open person, it’s just who I am, but I also know that I’m very good at acting. When I was first ill I was given some advice by my mother in law. I was letting her know that I was being very sensible, I was getting out of the house every day, and was trying to meet up with people. Her response was… ‘that’s fine but… you also need to make sure you are OK on your own as well – that’s when you will know that you are ok’.
This was the direction I needed. After all on breakdown day (sorry if that sounds awful but that’s what we’ve kind of started calling it) I wasn’t teaching in the morning. Therefore I hadn’t had to put on my mask, I hadn’t had to act, it was just me, my thoughts, my work, resulting in tears, and tears and tears. My poor mum got lots of tears down the phone (I’ve got no idea how she coped) those were normally times when the husband had been at work and I’d been at home on my own.
I think a disguise is necessary, whether it is to blend in, or to protect yourself from hurt, but it is important that you know who you are. I had managed to fool myself, that I was doing OK. Although I am a crazily reflective person, I am also very good at choosing what I need to reflect about! I need to make sure I don’t get to a point where I have forgotten who I am again.
We need to know ourselves, but I also think it is vital that there is at least one other person who has a good idea of who you are without your disguise. The husband said to me the other day that prior to ‘breakdown day’ and I think we’re talking weeks before, that it was like I was shut off, he couldn’t say anything to me, I wasn’t engaged in conversation, I would just snap at anything. He knew that I wasn’t right, but he had no idea how to help me, because I wasn’t letting him in. E also knew. They both also knew how to deal with me – soft but stern.
We are all superheroes, we all put on a mask in our everyday lives. That’s fine, but we also need our down time when we are just us. Everyday I have to look in the mirror, and I am physically reminded of the state I got into, and what I did to myself. At the moment that is sufficient when I find myself getting anxious again, but I am also having to put other procedures in place, to protect myself. This is mainly making sure I spend time on my own, and being honest with myself about my actual capabilities. I haven’t quite got there yet, but progress is being made!