Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Masks We Wear

I tell myself that all day long each of us reveals exactly who we are to the careful observer. And some of us are so right out there in front with our stuff that there's just no pretending. It's not exactly a secret that, say, I can get tangled up in my own head with questions about things, or that I can be a tidge hard on myself or... You get the idea.

But apparently I believe -really believe- mutually exclusive things. And I think we all do this, too. I think we both reveal who we are and mask who we are.

I believe -absolutely believe- that you, dear readers, are all beautiful, brilliant, skinny, talented, capable, successful, and you deserve every wonderful thing that has happened to you. You may think otherwise, that it's just a mask you wear. But (in my assessment of this), I'm right, because I'm a careful observer. You are telling your story with your actions, and I can read the story. I, on the other hand, am nutty as a fruitcake, smart enough, I suppose, fat, lazy, and disorganized. I sometimes make people believe otherwise, but the true story is my inner uncertainty. Somehow I think that any good or strong thing I do is either an accident or in spite of really fundamental fucked-up-ness.

It doesn't occur to me that you might be masking uncertainties or frailties, too. Nor does it occur to me that other people could be careful observers of me, and read the true story of my actions as brave or powerful or ...anything much of interest.

But here's what happened last night, you guys. And you're going to laugh. At quarter to midnight, I was still at work. A much younger woman who works at the same place called and wanted to pick my brain. I've only recently told the people at work about the ending of my marriage. At first it didn't seem like their business. Then I liked the fact that there were some people who didn't know; there was a place of respite. Then, gradually, it started to feel like I was lying by not telling people and it had to be done. They have all been a model of support and caring. She too is in the process of ditching a big-time Mr. Wrong, and having a hard time of it.

She said.... she ACTUALLY said... "I need your advice. I can't get over SCUM BAG LOSER-GUY (I believe she might have used his name here) no matter what I do, and you (meaning ME!) seem to be doing so well". I wrote it down in my journal, I was so excited. And then I remembered that she sort of wanted the conversation to be about her ;) I managed to pull myself together and talk to her, I promise.

I have made it a point not to bring my troubles to work. (I just dump them all over the internet instead.) There are of course professional reasons why doing anything else would be a bad idea. But I also just need there to be a place where that's not the main story about me. But my friends and family know how close to the edge I got. And she actually thought I had it together!!!

Do you suppose I might????


Anonymous said...

Hey Andrea (this is your sister Patrice) you might be interested in my friend Shauna's blog. Shauna is in Bangladesh researching how health brokers, or 'dalals' influence women's access to health care during obstetric emergencies. It's pretty cool...

jill said...

And she actually thought I had it together!!!

Do you suppose I might????

Um... yeah.


Perhaps you're mistaking "going through a rough patch and having a really cruddy thing happen to you," with "being a total screwup of a human being."

They can look remarkably similar from the inside. However, it doesn't tend to look at all similar from the outside, careful observations or no.

Anonymous said...

I think you've got it all together too. While most wouldn't put their fragility out there so publicly, it seems to me you're reflecting honestly. I only know you from some words on a screen and it's no surprise at all someone called for your advice. We're all works in progress.

Michael said...

Ma chère amie, you're one of the most together people I know...even when stuff is falling apart around your ears. Own it, already!

Lisa :-] said...


I could have written the first part of this post. The part about everyone else being so together and me suffering from general fucked-upedness.

And you are one of the people I "know" in blogland of whom I am secretly envious...because you are brilliant, talented, capable and successful (I left out "beautiful" and "skinny" because those things don't really matter to me.)

Yes, Andrea, I do believe you do have it together...

Anonymous said...

I think you are being super brave - and you are an inspiration. Looking forward to spending a "sisters" birthday weekend with you!