So many of us are emotionally guarded, cautious and hesitant.

I opened myself up from being emotionally guarded, cautious, and hesitant by saying good-bye to the mask I wore.

Before starting this blog very few people knew so much about me and in such depth.   I was an emotionally guarded and cautious person. Over the years I have been deeply hurt, disappointed, and betrayed by people very close to me.

At one time I felt like if I needed certain people they would be there for me and that I could depended on them for support. People who I love and expected to be there for me through the most difficult, darkest and traumatic experiences in my life.  Most people have family and friends that are there for them. What I got instead, was the complete opposite and after so many disappointments I became guarded. The idea of allowing myself (even now) to be vulnerable and depend on someone is beyond terrifying for me.  I wasn’t really consciously aware of how guarded I had become. It wasn’t until recently, (about two years ago now) when I realized how much I had withdrawn  from people as well as, myself.  I had gotten to a point where I didn’t want to be hurt by anyone, depend on someone or emotionally invested in anyone again. That protecting myself from disappointments and pain just made sense.  I figured I couldn’t be hurt if I didn’t allow anyone to be close enough to hurt me.

I wore a functioning mask or a few of them I should say, that hid me all the time. I wore them to protect myself or at least I thought I was protecting myself, but in the long run the masks were not doing me any favors. Wearing a mask for long time comes at a high cost.  People didn’t know me, who I am, what I had been through or what I really cared about and valued. I gave them glimpses of me with very vague details as to who I really was. I had gotten to the point where being disliked was easier than even considering having them as a friend.  They couldn’t hurt or disappointment me because I had no expectations from them.

What I ended up with wasn’t happiness or anything close to contentment. I felt simply more loneliness, sadness and despair. I felt like I lost parts of me and pieces of my soul to my mask.  I had done it to myself without even realizing how out of touch with myself I had become.   It took me some time to figure out who I was again and to rekindle my real emotions vs. the mask I wore.

I had to learn to actually feel again.

Doesn’t that sound a bit ridiculous, but that is the real, honest and scary fact of it.  I had to work on me and address internal fears with myself and other things around me. I had to recognize and deal with the things I didn’t want to and it was downright painful. My mask kept me going, protected me and helped me function as an adult; up until the point I realized I had lost myself to illusion I gave with my mask on.

I had to admit to myself that everything was not okay, when I was acting like everything was fine. I had to learn to not be angry, when I was actually hurt.  Addressing these feelings and fears was something that was harder than you might imagine it would be.  Deep inside though I knew I was ready to confront these emotions because more than anything I wanted to be happy, to find myself and learn to feel again.

I had to go face to face with myself first and then I knew I could deal with everything else. I  started by recognizing what I liked, disliked and wanted to keep or change about myself.  More than anything I wanted to learn how to put myself first and love myself enough to commit to it.

I had to learn to process feelings and experiences. I reflected on circumstances and how it left me feeling, what I learned from them and whether or not I was growing from those things. I wanted to not only develop a new coping habit for myself, but to grow  and learn for my future. This was very difficult to not only confront but accept with myself. I had to choose to be optimistic and realistic about my feelings and the emotions I had hidden for so long.  The thing about being optimistic, is that I choose to see things with a favorable view. So that I could have better odds at achieving the happiness I wanted to find and the kind of future I wanted. Being pessimistic or negative about possibilities and expectations of outcomes is really not the best way to find the happiness I want.   Being realistic to really address how I felt or feel vs. what my mask protected me from. Applying my energy to becoming my own individual person vs. what society and others thought I should be or behave like. I  had to realize that my experiences and  hardships were my blessings in disguise. I  started to look at everything from a new perspective. I looked back at things and considered not only myself, but also those around me.  By reflecting on these things it gave me the chance I needed to process everything I felt. I learned how to  slowly remove my mask and to process my actual feelings vs. the mask I had used to deal with the experience at the time.

Some of the hardest things to do in life seem so simple, but are the most complex and difficult to achieve.

There is that famous quote “that things are easier said than done.” This quote is so accurate when it comes to forgiveness. How do you forgive those who caused such heartache and pain? Why would I want to forgive them and let go of the past? That is when I realized that my past was the opportunity that life had given me to become a better person and to use to have  a brighter future.  I had to learn how to forgive those who hurt me so, I could learn to let go of pain and move past those emotions. Holding on to the pain and the disappointments would have made me bitter, not happy.  That alone has to be one of the most difficult things a person can do.  To learn to forgive those who hurt us and caused such unbearable pain, that a mask and guard was created as the outcome. I did forgive them, for everything. My forgiveness wasn’t for them, it was for me. So I could let down my guard and naturally evolve into the person I wanted to be. So I could find the parts of me I lost. Otherwise, I would have remained emotionally guarded and hesitated to let anyone know who I really am.  Scared to allow and experience happiness because I was always waiting for the bottom to fall out.

I have slowly let down my guard and said goodbye to my mask.  I now genuinely have a relationship with myself, learning to put my feelings and needs as a priority. As fearful as intimacy, vulnerability and exposing myself is; I want to embrace my life while treasuring true friendships and companionship. I have learned how to appreciate simple acts of kindness, loyalty, family, and friendship.

So with my heart, mind and eyes wide open to the possibilities of what has yet to come; I now cherish the journey of life as I experience it by simply being real with myself and others.

“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.” Anonymous


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