Beyond the mask…nothing

My delay in writing has been due to moving into a cabin in the woods that I was excited about a couple of weeks ago.  It is such a lovely, quiet place. Unlike the dwelling of the Unabomber, my cabin has more than one room, running water and electricity…and I am not seeking a primitive lifestyle; only quiet, semi-seclusion.  For the record, I have no interest in making bombs either. These days, I’m more of a hazard to myself than others.

I have been contemplating the question by my therapist: “Who am I when I am not wearing a mask?”  I am still no closer to an answer than I was in 1986 when I first began therapy. Seems it is automatic for me to define “self” according to whatever behavior I may be engaging in at the time or whatever emotion I might be experiencing at any given moment.  

Several months ago, I attempted to discover self through meditation.  According to some Youtube videos, I could achieve this by “looking within”.  Although I must admit, I don’t know where “within” is exactly. I don’t see anything when I “look within”…just blank.  My therapist suggested that I might have a “blockage” and that could be why I can’t “see within”. Blockage? Why can’t it be that there’s nothing there?  Where am I supposed to be going, anyway? I’m not even clear how meditation works. Perhaps it requires a different skill set I have not yet acquired.

I am pretty good at psychological projection onto inanimate objects though.  Which I suspect is somewhat akin to religion. Speaking of which, I wrote a type of poem about the goddess Morrigan after reading about her through the study of Celtic mythology and beliefs.  It is a mixture of how she is portrayed by others, as well as my own search for self and attempt to see beyond my own mask.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Phantom queen.

Binding my fate

And setting the scene.

Morrigan, Morrigan

The one not clear.

Challenging me

To overcome my fear.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Who ignores demands.

They run through my fingers

Like grains of sand.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Weaver of time.

Creating a mountain

Then hurrying me to climb.

Morrigan, Morrigan

Shifter of shape.

Constant lessons

I cannot escape.

Morrigan, Morrigan

The one who knows.

I follow your path

But see only shadows.

Morrigan, Morrigan

I must open my eyes

If I’m to see you

Beyond your reflected guise.

©Shadow

Memories

Holding the faded photograph

Of a moment I cannot recall

From a time long ago

Of when I was small.

 

As you clutched her in your arms

My face is turned from view

We all posed for a picture

But everyone looks blue.

 

What was it all about?

And why do we all look so sad?

Were you unhappy about,

The family you could of had?

 

We all had our secrets

Hidden behind our frowned face

But now, for the last time

I must leave this place.

 

It’s funny how

Bad memories are erased by years

And sometimes the mind creates good ones

From a time there were once tears.

 

©Shadow

What do you know about her?

Note:  I often use kennings in my poetry.  To help make this poem more understandable, I used the following kennings:

the fire of the sky=sun; swan of blood=raven; Thor’s laughter=thunder; weeping of clouds=rain

What do you know about her?

This one who loves to see

The fire of the sky

In the evening, alone with me.

 

What do you know about her?

The one who is intrigued by

The odd swan of blood

But know not what makes her cry.

 

Tell me what you know

Of what she likes to hear

Thor’s laughter in the distance

Music to the ear.

 

Tell me what you know

Of what she likes to smell

The weeping of clouds

Makes her emerge from her shell.

 

Tell me what you know

About all of her tears

Her lifelong problems

Of tantrums and fears.

 

Do you know this little girl?

Living down below

Deep in the shadows

Still in chains from long ago.

 

Who is this little girl?

Who learned to be an imposter

Never growing up

Still waiting for her well-being to foster.

©Shadow

Defining self

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.

-Shadow