“We heap on the darkness, constructing a variety of false selves. We become adept at playing games, wearing masks as if life were a masquerade party.” --Sue Monk Kidd
The young woman sat before me dressed in her work clothes of tailored black pants and crisp white shirt. Her face clean of makeup. Her eyes tired from a cold—or was it more? Her long silky hair pulled away from her face in a ponytail that was a little messy, but still very ‘together.’ She held onto herself, grasping her stomach tightly, throughout our time together. Her face turning deeper shades of red as she tried to convince me that she ‘operates best under stress.’ It was almost as if I could hear her saying, “if I just hold on tight enough, all of the emotions I feel inside will not spill out and fill this room. If I can just convince you maybe I can convince myself that everything is alright and I don’t need help.” But she did not convince me.
I could see the terror on her young face. Terror and determination as she talked of breaking away from her “controlling parents.” Parents who were concerned that she wanted to work multiple jobs while going to school and playing sports and maintaining an active social life. From what was she running? If she were to slow down, I got the sense that the feelings would drown her. Did she have that same sense? Nowhere to turn. No one to trust. A ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
She hinted of betrayal. Friends she could not trust. A young love gone bad. The fighting in her house followed by the absence of family members. “They just leave,” she said with a shrug. The themes were all over the place, but still she tried to convince me that she did not need help. She could not fit in one more thing. She could only trust herself. But, here she sat betraying herself. Pushing her body. Exhausted and worn out. Driven. Holding tight. She saw herself as moving toward something. I saw it as running away. Her attempts at security were slowly eating away at her soul.