Yesterday I read a beautiful and moving Huffington Post article by a woman named Mary Moss about her struggle with online dating as a woman with an obvious physical disability and as a single mother to a transgender teen. You can read her article here. It touched on many different aspects of this woman’s life, most notably removing your ‘personal mask’ while dating – putting your baggage on the table for the other person to see.
Mary said, “We all wear masks every day. We smile at the boss we would prefer to frown at. We embellish our experience in job interviews. We say we are doing great to passersby who ask how we are even though we may be feeling very sad. We take on that one favor for a friend and act as if it’s no bother even though we are bogged down at work.”
I couldn’t agree more with her and I feel like this applies perfectly to addiction. Addiction is a mask millions of people wear. A mask that comes with shame, embarrassment, regret, and guilt. I was there once, but I got sick and tired of wearing the mask. I got sick and tired of thinking something was wrong with me, that I was a bad person, when in reality I was sick. Coming out of the addiction closet was one of the best decisions I ever made, and trust me it’s not easy. I thought maybe I could get sober and keep it to myself. But I couldn’t keep lying to myself and people around me. I am different and I decided I would celebrate my differences and share my story.
Mary mentioned in her article that we all just want to love and be loved. We are all striving to find that one honest, true love, and friends that know all of our faults and love us anyway. So why do we put on these masks? There is something scary about revealing our true selves. But when we do, a weight is lifted off our shoulders. Don’t we want people to truly love us for who we are? We don’t want them to love us because of the masks we wear.
I receive emails and messages every day from people telling me I have inspired them to quit drinking, or to cut back, or to just know that there IS such a thing as a fun, sober life. I never expected by taking off my mask, I would encourage so many other people to take off theirs. Revealing my true self has not only been therapeutic for me, it has helped me build and take part in more honest, loving relationships. I know when people love me it’s because they know who I really am, flaws and all. I am now able to live an honest, joyous, and free life.
So I propose this to you, my friends, family, and readers. This Halloween take off your masks. Shed those walls that you hold up so tight to protect your true self from being seen. Share your feelings, share your story. Being an alcoholic, an addict, having alcohol abuse issues, whatever you want to call it – is not your whole life, but it’s a part of it and it helps shape who you are. There is no reason to hide it.
Break the stigma. Come out of the addiction closet. Live freely and inspire others. You are beautiful just the way you are.