I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Wearing Those Masks

(By Cecil Murphey)

We often speak of wearing masks—hiding our real selves so that others don't see deeply inside us. When I was a teen, a popular song about being rejected went something like this: "I'm laughing on the outside, crying on the inside."

That's as good an explanation of masks as I know. It means we intentionally withhold our real feelings and attitudes. That's not always bad. Masks can shield us from people who don't understand or who would exploit our weaknesses.

Hiding our identity from those who care about us is the problem. We're afraid to open up, don't want to take the risk of losing someone's affection, or don't have the courage to be our real selves.

Recently my wife and I watched a film on TV. Several adults were romantically involved but no one became vulnerable enough for the other person to know how they felt. "Don't they ever talk to each other?" my wife asked.

I smiled, and thought, in real life it's often that way, isn't it? For those who are important to me, I want to remove my mask as an expression of my love for and my acceptance of them. I want them to know the real, true, inner me.

If you love me, you'll love me more after I remove my mask. 
You'll love me more because you'll love the true, deeper me.

(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)

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