Taking Off The Mask

“After my divorce, looking for ways to meet new people, I took a small part in a little theater production. One night at rehearsal I suddenly realized that’s what I’d been doing in my marriage- reciting lines. I wasn’t myself, I was in character in a romantic comedy-tragedy.”  – Scott

images-268At this point in your your divorce journey you probably have a good idea of what happened, and hope to start thinking about how you’ll avoid similar mistakes in the future.  One key element in successful relationships is openness.

Were you really honest with yourself? 
Or do you hide behind a mask of “everything is okay/”

Masks and Openness
All of us wear masks at times.  Sometimes you just don’t want others to know what you’re feeling and a “mask” is a convenient way to hide what’s going on inside. – a protective shield.  So the mask projects a different attitude or feeling on the surface, protecting you from the pain underneath.  The pain may be fear of rejection, fear of somebody not liking you, fear of inadequate, or maybe just a feeling that nobody really cares.

Young children don’t wear masks as adults do – that’s of one of the reasons it’s enjoyable and delightful to be with them.  We develop our masks and become “socialized. ” It’s not a conscious effort to deceive, the idea is simply that the masks will help us to interact with people more effectively.

However, some masks are not productive in helping us connect with others.  Instead, they keep us at a safe  emotional distance from the other person.  Openness, after all, can be pretty scary at times. “

The above except taken from, “Rebuilding, When your Relationship Ends,” by D. Bruce Fisher.

We’ll begin to take a look at openness, by taking a closer look at the masks we wear.

Try these on for size:

The Humor Mask – worn to keep people at an arms length emotionally.  Should anyone try to get close emotionally,  immediately start making jokes and cracking humor to create a safe distance and space.

The Barbie Mask – whenever someone tries to get real with you, and talks about important things,  put on the happy , smiling, unchanging face like a “Barbie doll.”

I’m So Strong Mask is worn to project an image that ” I am strong and have it all together.  Under no circumstance am I willing to show any sign of weakness.

Don’t Mess with me – Angry Mask is very effective in keeping people at arms length.  Wear when you want the reputation TOUGH!


1.  What masks do you wear, and for what purpose?

2.  Who are you masking from?

3.  Are you actually denying your own hurt, and fooling yourself?

4.  Are you ready to take off your mask?







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Truth or Dare?

Remember the reality TV series where we were all glued to the set watching, pulse-racing, “Fear Factor” contestants decide if they had the guts and determination to face their most primal fears. If they completed their task they advanced. If fear stopped them from completing a stunt or they failed the mission, they were immediately eliminated.

Bottom line:  What fear is stopping you from completing your task…or will you advance and complete your mission?

In order to answer the above question first we have to identify our fears, bring them out of the dark and into the light.

Are you afraid of the dark?

Remember when you were a young child and as soon as you went to bed and turned out the lights, the monsters hidden in your closet and under the bed came out?  Or maybe your monsters were like mine, and when you looked up through the shades of the bedroom window the street monsters rose up in enormous proportions and spooked you outside your window.  Much is the same with our fears.  When we are busy and occupied with the busyness of our day-to-day life, we push aside the Monsters that are lurking in the shadows.  Yet, underneath, their haunting voices are screaming inside our head.  Those “voices” are your FEAR FACTORS!

In order to move past your fears, you first must identify them…the “unknown” Fear is by far the largest Monster who has the ability to enlarge and fill whatever space he is allowed.  He also has the capacity to take over not only our physical space, but also our mind, and then begins his daily treadmill routine, regurgitating the same thoughts over and over again in our head.

Did is ever occur to you to turn on the lights?

When you courageously bring your fears into the light, you’ll be able to see the “monster” for what it really is.  When we take a closer look and examine our fears, we get a clearer picture, which automatically reduces our fears.

It is our limiting beliefs, our thoughts which keep us small and stuck and “afraid” to move forward.

 The first step to stop this vicious cycle of rumination is:  AWARENESS

Having a conversation with what we are afraid off this is called enlightenment.
By definition, enlightenment is two-fold:
          1.   Casts light on something so you can see it clearly; it allows you to be aware              of something that you were previously not an aware of. 

           2.   Relief of a heavy weight in which you are now lightened.  

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could see your fear for really what it is and simultaneously be relieved of the heaviness that you are carrying around because of it?

Here are 3 steps to help you bring your fear into the light and reduce the burden of them.

  1.    Sit down and write out the situation longhand, then ask yourself:
       • what am I afraid of?  Name the fear! 

     2.    Apply TLR (Truth Logic and Reason), to reduce the behavior even further.
            •Under your named fear write: TLR
            •now write out the truth, logic and reason for the fear

      3.    Write the result of applying the TLR
            •the result is usually a ACTION item!
            •what are the small baby steps that you can do to move through the new                  reduced “fear?”

When we bring our fears from the unknown to the known, we can identify them and name them.  By working through the TLR process, we are no longer allowing our fears to control us, but we are taking charge of our fears, and therefore our life!

FEAR FACTOR:  will you complete your MISSION?

Truth or Dare?


  1. Do I want to continue giving power to my fears?
    •If not…. Take time, call upon your fierce courage to:
  2.  Write out the top 3 fears you are facing today
  3. Apply the TLR factors to each of the fears identified

Who Me?

Have you ever heard anyone say, as they roll their eyes, “Oh he’s in denial!”
What does that really mean?  Is the person really that stunned, and actually so unaware of their own circumstances?  Possibly!  As onlookers, what appears obvious to us and everyone else, is really and truly a blind spot for the person going through the situation.
When initially separated, denial is the first stage that each person in the relationship will experience.   It may be conscious or unconscious. Initially, denial shows up as a means of protection, creating a false sense safety.  On a conscious level we may not be totally oblivious to our situation, but perhaps not ready or ill equipped to do anything about it. Secondly we may be unaware of our own issues and how we contributed to the disintegration of our marriage. Denial or dismissal is a way of putting things on hold or hitting the pause button as a need for a time out!   We may be experiencing too much change or chaos  and we are at a loss of what to do? denial-1In order to move past denial, and get your head out of the sand, it is  important to ask yourself:
Why? Why? Why?
Why did my love relationship have to end? 
Until one can except the ending it’ll be difficult to begin to adjust.   Further, in order to accept the ending, we feel that need to understand what went wrong and begin to make some sense out of it all.  As people grow in a relationship there is a lot of change that both people experience.  Changes in in their own personal growth due to: their religious attitudes and beliefs, crisis, illness, relocation. etc.  Often these “events” experienced as real stresses, either bring us together as a couple, or pull us apart.  In order to address the why we first need to take a closer look at system within the previous relationship.   Was each person willing to contribute to that the relationship so that the team could move forward together through the changes that life brings?  Were you a strong team of horses moving forward together, or a team of oxes strongly moving independently apart?   In order to move through denial and on to acceptance, we need  to be brutally honest and answer evaluate your past relationship.
Take a time out, a time to sit quietly  with yourself and your thoughts,
Ask yourself…
  • Were you and your partner friends?
  • Did you confide in each?
  • Did you share similar passions and hobbies?
  • Did you have similar goals?
  • Did you go out together socially?
  • Did you give each  each other  space, and time and alone?
  • Did you  trust each other?
Now think back to when did you stop working together and start pulling apart?
How long has the relationship been “over?”  Separation and  divorce is the acknowledgment that this relationship is no longer serving each other well and it’s time to have a formal closure, so that you each can move on.
Self reflection is NOT an “if only” game where we beat ourselves up with

         “if only I…”         “I should have… ”       “I could have…”  etc.
These thoughts are your own gremlins, and they play havoc in your mind, causing you to spiral in exhaustion.  As the saying goes, “your history is your history” and there is nothing you can do about it.  In order to move on through denial and on towards acceptance one just has to first face the reality and acknowledge that your love relationship has ended. PERIOD!  It is over!  Even though the emotional pain is intense, it is this pain that will provide the motivation for personal growth.  It is important to spend some time with denial, bring it into the light, take your head out of the sand, address the why questions, and begin to work through it, so that you can continue to move yourself forward.
Reflections:1.  I am willing to except that my love relationship is ending?
2.  What are of the reasons why my love relationship ended?  Where were we working   together as a team, and where were we pulling apart?
3.  Am ready to invest in myself and in my own personal growth in order to become the person that I would like to be?  Who am I willing to ask to hold me accountable for my own growth?