All of us create personas, masks which allow us to keep everyone else from seeing our soft, vulnerable insides. Some are useful, healthy even. Some are not. But we all develop them as we grow. Each experience, each relationship, each interaction with another thinking, feeling being helps to put another layer on the mask.
I’ve built quite a few over the years, some of them fine or even beautiful, others monstrous. I used to call one the “Sociopath”, but the reality is that it is more the “Ice Queen”. It’s that part of myself that I have hidden the most. It came out quite often in my marriage, because it got created as I was slowly letting my ethics, my guiding principles and my true self be eroded on a daily basis. It was the only way I could function. But it meant giving up far too many parts of me. It meant giving up my honor and my integrity. It sucked out much of my compassion, my empathy for my fellow human beings. It was hard, lacking in regret or shame and far too often easy to hide behind. Emotions, while hiding behind this mask, were only ways to manipulate others. It is a part of myself that I am systematically destroying piece by piece. As I recover my honor, my ethics, my guiding principles and rebuilding my true self, I am able to leave her behind in the dust. I have learned from her, but I will not allow myself to be her ever again.
Another was the “Robot.” While for many people, this would seem to be exactly the same as the Ice Queen. They could not be more wrong. This is a persona I put on when my emotions were too chaotic, when they were not conducive to solving a crisis (which, in my marriage seemed to happen multiple times a day). Everything for this persona was black and white, binary thinking (making everything a 1 or a 0). It either supported the continuation of the life we had built, or destroyed it. And believing that my ex-husband was just “misunderstood” or being “demonized” by the mainstream herd was a central truth. Anything that did not agree with that single data point was simply garbage.
I find how this persona’s destruction got started amusing as hell. I actually was forbidden by “majority decision” to hide behind this particular mask. And, the ex-husband was the most vocal about this.
Honestly, it was part of the beginning of the end.
Think about it. The central pillar of that persona was that data point, that my ex was to be pitied, not hated. That he should not be expected to be responsible for his choices, because his rage was uncontrollable. That the excuse of “You only see the rage I can no longer control, that portion I lose control over. I have so much more inside of me” was simply justified because there was so much rage still hidden.
There is no excuse for abuse. EVER.
Every single one of us contains storms of emotion. They might not all be rage, but they are no less tempestuous, no more chaotic and difficult to control. This is the same kind of excuse that people give for not being responsible about safe sex. Think about it. The excuse is that “in the moment” you just forget it. I don’t. I learned the hard way from the idiot who took my virginity. It didn’t matter that I was on the pill. He needed to STILL use a condom. But I didn’t insist, because he said it was safe. Yeah, no…..I no longer listen to the excuse of “trust me, I’m clean.” Not unless you have had your regular testing for STDs/STIs. Of course, the ex-husband gave that excuse back in the beginning of our marriage too.
What other personas have I created in the past? There’s always the wonderful “Great Mother” that our culture tries desperately to instill in every single woman. This persona is that part of women who sacrifice everything for their family, the co-dependence that makes us feel that we are only “good enough” when we are giving away everything we are. That literally destroys a woman until there is absolutely nothing left. By the time I left my ex, I literally had to force a smile. I have wrinkles of frown lines, because since my 20s I haven’t really smiled all that much. That winter of 2014 after I left him, I found myself smiling for absolutely no reason at all. It shocked the hell out of me, because I had forgotten how my face looked when I smiled. I no longer had crying jags, but even started laughing more easily. I’m not completely recovered of that, but it’s progressing.
There are some parts of that persona I want to recycle. The compassion for my fellow man, for example. But I will no longer sacrifice myself for anyone else. I will give, I will share, but I will not destroy myself ever again.
Then there comes the “Executive.” There are some good parts to that one. But, when unchecked it can become a problem. The Executive is the part of me that leads, but also is the part of me that is controlling. This is the part of me that mirrors my father’s mother the most, and is the part that can be very bitter about relationships. Grandmother Rose didn’t exactly trust a lot of people, which is somewhat understandable given many of the things she lived through. But transference from her impacts my relationship with my father.
And that really is what I am doing. I am still my past, and it is always with me and part of who I am, but I can pick and choose which parts of it that I will keep held close to my heart, and what parts I can release away to the Universe.
Only stagnation is quitting or giving up. I won’t choose that anymore.