Dropping the Mask [me: transparent and clean]

by Brenna

Note: I don’t write this post to gain friends and approval. I don’t write it to gain sympathy. I write it to be honest, to have integrity, and to reach out. I won’t say what people want me to say any longer.

So many people claim that they’re stupid and pointless, but I disagree; I make a New Year’s resolution every year. It really means something to me and gives me motivation. This year, though, my resolution was largely a secret. Which is ironic, since the resolution itself completely defies secrecy.

My resolution was to, by the end of the year, drop my mask and share the reality of who I am. Someone’s who’s not perfect, someone who has fallen, and someone who has worked very hard to get back up. This is that reality.

I’ll be honest: I don’t want to write this post. I’ve spent the past three years locked up inside myself, only sharing what I want to share with who I want to share it with. I’ve developed so many different personalities and styles because I’ve always played to society. Instead of giving each person the girl that I truly am, I’ve faked it for nearly everyone I’ve ever met. On both hands, I can count the amount of people who know my “darker” side–and none of them know everything.

I don’t want to write this post because it’s the exact opposite of everything I’ve practiced for the past three years. Trying to play perfect, trying to play happy, trying to play problem-less, trying to play the helper. But the truth is that I’m not perfect, I’m not always happy, I have problems, and sometimes, I’m the one that needs help.

And how can I try to be the voice of reason when I can’t even buy my own reason? How am I supposed to make blog posts about using our voices to help ourselves and others when I can’t do it myself? This year, I am writing and giving a persuasive speech on how the church needs to be transparent and open–and how on earth am I supposed to stand up and say all of that without gagging over my words if I am the antithesis of what I preach? I can’t. That’s hypocrisy. That’s pathetic. That’s a lie, and I’m done living it. You guys deserve more than that. So this is the honest truth.

I am not okay.

Those were some of the most difficult words I’ve ever had to write. This is probably the most difficult blog post I’ll ever have to write. But I’m getting over that by the minute.

I am broken. Sometimes, I don’t smile. Sometimes, I fake laughter at what you say because I wasn’t paying attention–but everyone else is laughing. Sometimes, I close my door, turn off the lights, and curl up in my bed by myself because the world tortures me with a kind of pain that only senselessness can heal. Sometimes, I lay on my bed listening to depressing songs, and I cry because I can feel every last emotion of the singer, but I don’t know how to fix it.

Sometimes, I want to give up.

I haven’t given up, though. And I am so proud that I can say that. Really, truly proud of myself. I have accepted healing. I have opened up. I have found help…help that I very badly needed.

Its past and present [and future, probably] is complicated. But to put it as simplistically as possible, I have actively fought an eating disorder since I was thirteen years old. My life has been riddled with poor self-image since I was very young, and a few years ago, it fully developed into a torturous battle with food. Food became my way of gaining control and becoming perfect. My subconscious has always said that if I can skip one meal, I’m one meal closer to cleanliness. It has been about weight loss, but only so far as weight loss can achieve acceptance and perfection. The root of my disorder is that have always felt the need to be everything that everyone wants me to be. And in another way, food has been like my voice–my way of speaking through my actions.

During the summer of 2010, I was in a very sorry state. Looking back, I would most likely have been diagnosed with minor depression. I had no drive. All I wanted to do was sleep. And the root of my problems was everything that I write about–I was silenced, I was locked up, I was hurt, and I was very lost and confused. I had so many days and nights where I didn’t even know what to do with myself because I was so absolutely miserable. I never wanted to die. But I certainly didn’t want to live.

I did begin to open up, though. With the help of various friends, I found enough drive to get me through that summer, through the end of the year, and through the rest of ninth grade. I was a wreck by early 2011, but I was making so much progress. The details are numerous, but ultimately, I escaped depression and many horrible bouts of starvation.

It was in May that I got my first serious ray of hope. I wrote about that here. I suppose that’s when I really began to discover how much I needed to open up and be honest about things. Thus also began me coming to realize just how prominent God’s sense of humor really is. Over the next few months, I began to find numerous reasons and hear countless stories about “dropping the mask” and developing transparency. By late July, I knew I had to do it, and was simply waiting for the right time.

I found the right time in early August. With the moral support and many prayers of my closest friends, I finally sat down with my parents and opened up. I told them the truth about food, depression, bottled up feelings, fear, and everything else that spilled out at the moment. That night, I finally accepted transparency and healing, and I am so very glad that I did. My mom got me in touch with a counselor who has been helping me to find the root of my eating struggles and other feelings. I can’t even explain how much it has helped me. Suddenly, I feel so incredibly alive.

I’ve opened up to my parents, my counselor Debbie, and a couple more friends. Now, I recognize that it’s time for me to open up here. It is time for me to use my voice the way I have always encouraged everyone else to. I know this could cause me to lose some friends and gain some stigma. Do I care? Yes, of course I do. I don’t want to or think I should lose friends for being honest. But I care more about the good things I can accomplish from this, so I refuse to deny the truth any longer.

There is me without a mask. It’s only the surface, of course, but it’s the truth. If you take just one thing away from this post, let it be this: you’re not alone. You are never alone. You are strong, brave, beautiful, capable, and wonderful. Believe it. It’s taken me so long to recognize my own strength, but I see it now. And now that I have finally broken free of my chains of secrecy, I grow stronger every day. I’m so much more alive, and it is incredible. I only wish I had done it earlier.

Tell your story. It is important, and I would love to hear it