Shame: Get that mask off!
Allow me to introduce you to this little girl here (Picture). Her name nickname from birth was Ka-atei (meaning the pitiful one). She was born tiny and colic. she cried day and night and she gave her parents many sleepless nights. She became the real-life energy of the nickname she was given. Her childhood was marred with seasonal health issues, tropical illnesses and she was always underweight. At the age of 7, she learned that the name she had been carrying was weighing her down. she dropped that with a lot of resistance from family and friends. See she learned that everybody around her wanted her to wear masks that looked appealing to them; Not her... The pitiful one was great for the poor little child. But she quickly learned that she had to peel off that if she was to change her trajectory in life. As soon as she got it out, the society was waiting for her to put on another mask… and this goes on and on to date. That same girl on the picture is this one here (Picture). In between the 7yrs and now, she has worn many masks, some she made for herself and others were put on her. I will divide the masks into three categories: The contemporary meaning of shame means a painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy, disgrace, dishonour, pity.
Shame 1: Scarred Hearts And Missing Experiences:
We have all worn this mask. I remember one of those times I wore this mask was when I was sexually abused at the age of 10 years by a close relative:
Although I got support from my family, the undertones, were “She deserved it, she must have seduced the poor man, how is that even possible? she is framing the half brother. She wanted it, look at her full behind, isn’t that seduction?”
This divided our family in half and divorce was knocking at the door. Who caused it? Me of course!!
I felt guilty, ashamed and hurt. For this reason, I avoided romance and intimacy of any kind just so that I don’t repeat history again. I quickly learned that ‘men’ can get what they want out of you and then place a mask of shame on your pap!
I carried that mask all my teenage years and early adulthood. I wore it as a defence against any advances, any interested suitors, any curious lovers etc.
I was scarred. I missed all the dating games, unapologetically though. I indulged in sports instead, to fill up my time. I trained till I dropped and then I slept through the campus parties.
My first boyfriend who somehow managed to get through the mask didn’t help either. Three short months into our relationship: I caught him cheating with my then best friend. I swore to never indulge a man in my life again. I was done and I meant it. Fast Forward to today, my second boyfriend who took six years to help me peel off each painful mask and heal each scar… is my husband.
No wonder Patrick had to work extra hard to peel off that mask and the skin that had stuck to it.
As Andre said: “We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”
― André Berthiaume
Often times we wear those scarred masks for so long it becomes part of our skin. We forget how we beautiful we look without those shameful masks.
So what is your mask? You often wear them with pride and own them, or with shame: PEEL OFF THAT MASK!! Shame 2: Should Have Already Mastered Everything!! In 2004, on my second posting as a college tutor, I was tasked with job of marketing our institute, publishing in the newspapers and media to help increase student enrolment. On one particular occasion, I was to publish an announcement in the national media about our open day. All Parents and stakeholders were invited. The guest of honour was to be the minister of Higher Education, science and technology. I was to buy space in the newspaper. Unfortunately, The story we intended to publish was too long for space I was asked to pay for. Remember this was a national event: I tried to get in touch with the institute’s principal and asked what I would do. He said, “ Mrs Juma, I am in the middle of something important right now. Why don’t you use your language editing skills? I trust you will do alright”. So I did the best I could and went home for the day. The big event was the following day. On getting to school, nobody wanted to talk to me. The principal was mad at me. He could not believe how I had messed up. “ I thought you were smart enough to know which part of the information could not be deleted…,” He said, “I trusted you were smarter than that…” Shame… but alas! I had not mastered everything as they thought I had. The “Hellen’s hot mess story” was told in the college for as long as I was there. Embarrassing? Yes. Luckily, life did give me a second chance, and this time I peeled off the mask and score highly. In your field of expertise… how many times have you goofed and colleagues pile up masks of shame on you? Peel off that mask! It is okay to not know everything. It is alright to mess as long as you learn from it and move on. Shame 3: Suffering Has A Measured Effect How often have you heard, “No pain, no gain!”? This is my mantra to date. I use it every morning when I have to do those crunches and jump ropes. It hurts. Having let go for a long while… I totally agree with his mantra. However, pain should not include your peace, your joy, your pride your, confidence, or your freedom. Meet Susan(Picture), my good friend (Picture). She is happily married, ( Or so I thought). She lives in a beautiful suburban mansion in Nairobi and is blessed with four beautiful children. One day as we were having our usual coffee date, she broke out and started crying. “ What is the matter now?” I asked her.” Sam has been cheating on me and now has infected me with an STI.” She whispered in between her sobs. I knew everyone knew about her husband's behaviour. We had tried to talk her out of this relationship when she had only one child, but she refused to state that he treated her like a queen. He abused her physically and we also knew it. He would abuse her and then take her to an expensive hotel for a night out or a trip to Dubai for shopping. She dressed elegantly and drove a beautiful car… She was unhappy. My dear unhappy friend hangs in there until she was infected with HIV. Her husband could care less even if she died. He had the money to get whichever woman he wanted. My story here is… How much shame can you carry, for how long… for who and why?
“If you walked away from a
toxic, negative, abusive,
relationship or friendship
— you won.” ― Lalah Delia As queens of our homes, we need to know where our queendom ends and where it begins, so that we can rule our lives peacefully. This applies in dating, marriage, friendship, business etc. It is toxic for you, it is toxic mask. Peel off that mask!! Instead of others giving you what they think suits you, m request for you is that you get your own mask, design it your self, decorate it for you and if you have to wear it… with confidence because you are a diva/king of your dominion!!
Conclusion “I believe in my mask-- The woman I made up is me I believe in my dance-- And my destiny” ― Sam Shepard