Letting the Mask Slip

I am good at maintaining the image that I have it all together.  I can do “pulled together and competent” all day long.

I, throughout my adult life, have crafted a shiny veneer that looked pretty good.  I dressed pretty well, didn’t go out of the house without having hair and makeup at least sort of done, kept my house at a certain level of clean and decorated appropriate to the season/holiday at hand (when was a slight chance people who don’t live there might see it), kept all the plates of life spinning in an organized fashion as dictated by my cute day planner, and was able to keep up the façade that I could handle all things ever.  I talked a good game, and often I bought it myself. 

Even as I did that tap-dance, transparency was not something I did with most people.  I liked “fine, thank you very much” mask that I wore most of the time, and aside from a few select people, that’s what most people got to see.  Was I fake?  No, because I really am blessed and a generally happy person.  Was I guarded?  Yes.  Was I reluctant to allow people to see the mess “behind the curtain?”  Oh. Yes.  Because that’s a scary and vulnerable place in the middle of my mess. 

I wandered closer to the edge of “realness” in the past few years, gradually opening up my life a bit, but still a bit unenthusiastic to really let the mask slip, so to speak.  And then I got sick.  And it changed everything. 

I can tell you, when the rug gets pulled out from under your whole life, you tend to re-examine a bit.  And it became abundantly clear that I DON’T have it all together, I CAN’T just handle everything, I’m NOT perfect (not that I or any of the people who live with me thought I was), and it’s really okay.  It took being pushed into a big place of humility to be okay sharing my struggles.  And share I have.    

As I’ve worked on setting up this new website and migrating my blog to this new shiny space, I looked at posts that were written before my illness.  Without hesitation I decided to leave them where they were.  Reading those showed me how far my heart has come from those days.  Everything was awesome in my early blogs, and I was annoyingly chipper about many things (my retroactive apologies), but I didn’t share much of what was hard in what was real. 

Since I became sick last spring I have felt the burden to blog about what I was encountering, but more importantly, what God was doing in and through my life.  And to do that I had to take off the mask.  I had to be honest about my fears, my hesitation, my sadness, my frustration, my confusion.  And you all blessed and encouraged me beyond what I would have ever thought or imagined.  Turns out people appreciate the messy real person that is me much more than the “superwoman” façade.  Thanks for that. 

In this year long process of breaking down and rebuilding, I have shifted my focus, opened my heart, and listened to what God was saying.  He had to stop me cold in my tracks before I would be ready to take a step on the path He was preparing for me, a path toward a life-long dream.  And here’s the step: I wrote a book.  Labored over with love these past months, started as a gift for my daughter’s high school graduation, this couldn’t have been written in the not-so-distant past, largely because I wouldn’t have been so open with my considerable faults and failures.  I wouldn’t have been able to trust my readers with some really hard personal stories, and would have probably just come off as preachy. 

Though this process of becoming more transparent has been a challenge for me, I encourage you to let the mask slip.  It’s scary, it’s really uncomfortable, it’s vulnerable and can make you wonder how people will receive it.  But it’s worth it.  When you aren’t so concerned with keeping up the appearances, you can be open to what God has for your next steps.

Kathleen Tysinger

I’m a Christian girl on the journey through an adventure-filled life, a blogger, writer, speaker, and mom to two college students. I am blessed to be married to my high school sweetheart and we make our home near Sacramento, California. While I spent years as an English teacher and in the business world, I was given the gift of a “different-paced” life through the onset of a chronic illness in 2015, and my adventure continues…

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