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Can I just leave the mask on? Taking it off is too uncomfortable.

Sure, you can leave the mask on but at what cost. To remove the mask or to not remove the mask is a choice. No it’s not easy nor is it comfortable. I heard Steve Harvey say on his morning show, “to get to where you want to go you have to be willing to be uncomfortable.” He was referring to stepping out and living your dream, i.e. starting that business, going back to school, etc. However, the same can be applied to the healing process and removing the mask. In order to heal, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable.

Some of the questions you have to ask yourself are: What are the risks? Am I being true to myself and those around me? By keeping the mask on, does it change why you began to wear the mask in the first place? For every choice, there are risks and there are benefits. You have to decide which one outweighs the other. According to Webster’s Dictionary, risks are the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as an injury or a loss) will happen. The key word being "possibility" meaning that it may happen and it may not. You could have all of these thoughts and fears of what may happen and none of them ever happen. For example, as a survivor of rape/sexual assault, a risk could be that if I start to talk about what happened I may fall apart and not be able to manage my emotions. To be quite honest, you may become very emotional but those same tears are your body’s way of releasing the hurts and pain that you’re trying so desperately to hide and stuff away.

I'm sure you’re saying to yourself, “Yea that’s true, but it’s still hard. The mask allows me to be in control of how I feel, how I act, and what people see. I’ve been doing this for so long

and I think I’m doing okay. I go to work/school every day. I pay my bills on time. I go to church on Sunday. I pray every night. I’ve seemed to have managed to move past those things and people that hurt me just fine. Why take it off now?” Those are all valid points and you’re right all of us desire to have some level of control over our lives. Yes, you are a functioning human being who from the outside appear to have it all together. But have you ever considered the limits that the mask puts on you. Picture in your mind, wearing an actual mask such as the ones pictured here. When you look out what do you see? These mask would not cover your mouth and nose and you can still see; however, because of all the extra material on each side of your eyes, you lose what we call peripheral vision. You can now only see what’s in front of you which in medical terms is called tunnel vision. So by only seeing what’s in front of you and nothing to the left or right, are you really living a full life? Are you really protected? How many good things, fun things, exciting things that are to the left and right and all around you that because you choose to continue to wear the mask you simply cannot see?

I completely understand that wearing the mask is comfortable. You’ve gotten used to the limited field of view. You’ve learned to adjust to not having some of the things you want. You’ve probably even convinced yourself that you don’t deserve some of the good things in life. We settle for ignoring our past, our hurts, our pain, the anxiety, the anger, the guilt, the shame, the blame, the drinking, the drugs, the sex with random men or women and the contemplation of suicide and maybe even a few attempts.

But I’ll leave you with this, are you really living or are you just surviving? Is all of that worth continuing to wear the mask? Could our greatest fear of taking the mask off be that we just may find that there is a completely different life out there that we are missing out on simply because we’ve become comfortable?

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