I am struggling to fully understand what my therapist meant by asking me to consider the question: “Who am I when I am not wearing a mask?” Up to this point in my life, I have primarily defined myself by what I was feeling or what I was doing. So my therapist told me it was more than that and I must dig deeper. So people are not defined by their behavior? This is confusing.
I even attempted to get the answer by looking up the definition of self in a dictionary. An individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. Or even this: a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one’s own self. The definition is just as vague as the term.
My therapist asked me “Who are you when no one is watching?” I responded “What am I doing when no one is watching?” That is when she told me I must dig deeper.
I don’t understand. I have often viewed “self” as some external entity that takes over during my worst states. Kind of like spirit possession. All of my worst traits dwell there; as well as my worst emotions. They are like a virus that creep in and infect me when I am vulnerable.
I do not know when I came up with the above idea of self. But my therapist tells me that is not self. Hmmmm. I am totally baffled then. How is it not a feeling or behavior? Those things I understand…well, I mostly recognize, at least.
In any case, if anyone out there has a different definition understanding of self that you think might be helpful for me, please share it in the comments. It would be greatly appreciated.
Several years ago, I began a correspondence with a pen pal via email. I was pretending from the very beginning…wearing one of those masks that I mentioned before. Early on I think I became more attached that I should have. But that is what I do, right? Idealize only to devalue later. I shared some of the most intimate details about my life with her. Some of it was even true but intertwined with so many lies it is hard to tell what is what now. For a long time she was my best friend…my only friend. But now that has changed. Lately, I have felt dismissed by her. Ignored. Unimportant. I don’t know what I was expecting really since she lives more than 12 hours away. I am even uncertain of what I wanted or needed. And so now it is time for me to do what I do when my “relationships” with others become uncomfortable or too difficult to maintain…or if I think they are getting too close. I must disappear. And this decision comes at just the right time. A time when I am moving to another town without leaving a forwarding address. So any snail correspondence she sends will not reach me. Only time will tell if I will feel guilt over this matter. -Shadow