This past week we all had a great time being somebody else. It was great fun to see the little Princess, the Cowboy, a super hero, astronaut and all the rest. Don’t you think that all of us would like to be somebody else for awhile – even just for a short time on Halloween eve? Yes, we all would like to be somebody important, somebody who was a mover and shaker, somebody whom everyone loved. You know, like a comedian, a super hero, a great military leader or a great statesman, like Abraham Lincoln. Yes, Halloween is a great time to act like we are someone else. To put on a false face. Everyone wants to know who that is behind that mask?
Have you ever imagined yourself someone else and felt like it fit you quite well? A perfect fit, so to speak. It’s obvious that it brings great fun and laughter all around. We all know that it won’t last long and I can be me again, but not so magical when we are someone else.
I remember when it was Halloween every day, for over a year at a painful time in my life. I was no grand champion of civil rights for the down trodden. I was no medal of Honor recipient for his or her valiant deeds. I was just me – still wearing my false face from Halloween. I never took my mask off. I had to always wear it because I could not let anyone see me, the real me, the hurting and isolated me, imprisoned in my habitual self, serving time till someone freed me from my anxiety.
Years ago, I had a friend who was a medical doctor and who was addicted to opioids and other addictive substances. I still remember his words like they were spoken just yesterday. He wore his false face well. As we talked late one night he shared with me his soul, the mask peeled gently from his face , the tears streaming down his face, as he told me something he never was able to tell anyone else. He told me, hesitatingly, that if “I had the courage and the guts, I would get as high on this hospital roof as I could and shout for everyone to listen up. For everyone to look at me – a horrible and pitiful addict. I would tell them what a fake I have been all my life, that I am a fraud. I the healer telling every one how to live their life and I can’t even begin to live a day without the shot, the pills, alcohol. I want so badly to just be me. Me, to tell others who I really am.”
My visit that night with the doctor has stayed with me all my life. It has stayed with me because I too was at a point like him later one in my own life.
It came upon me so slowly, the feelings of hollowness, the jitteriness and fear. Always the fear. Fear, that someone would discover someone else behind my mask.