We are raised in a society where we are taught to “mask” negative emotions at an early age. Throughout childhood and adolescence, we are programmed to embrace more pleasant feelings and/or told to “get over” pain, sorrow, shame…and the list goes on. Often, survivors of trauma, friends,and family are ill-equipped to hold, contain, or understand the complex evolving world of trauma.
Survivors often seek comfort in the shadows of silence and don the mask of invisibility to hide what is perceived as damaged or broken, to mask self-perceptions of shame, blame, inadequacy, and self-loathing, to disguise feelings of depression, anger, and doubt, or re-create an image that is more palatable to family or friends.
What would you see or do if a survivor of trauma allowed you to SEE behind the mask? Would you look away? Ask them to put the mask back on? Or remain still and accept the person behind the mask?
(Photo Credit: Dr. Tama Lane – New York, May 2015)