Masks II

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/COLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Houten_dansmasker_gedragen_tijdens_feesten_voor_de_zaaitijd_van_rijst_TMnr_391-162.jpgI talked to Yvonne about masks.

I pretended to be male, and people did not guess I am female. Then I transitioned, and I was still doing the benefits tribunals, and I kept the same mask. The same way of being with people. I don’t think it works. Being without it, though, feels naked and vulnerable and confusing. If you have worked this one out, please let me know.

I had a rare opportunity to come over all professional yesterday. C asked me to come to a meeting. He had five of us there, and stated the problem in a way I found tedious and long-winded. I have no idea how big a problem it is, from minor inconvenience to life-changer, because it is not C’s problem: he was lending R a hand. Can we help R? Oh, OK, I would think that worthwhile, but first I want to know what help R thinks he might need, rather than impose my solutions on him like Lady Bountiful. From giving R particular help for one afternoon, we have somehow taken him on as a client or protĂ©gĂ©.

At the time, I wondered at C, thinking he was just not understanding and making heavyFile:Java Maske Panji Museum Rietberg RIN 204.jpg weather of something trivial. Now I see his generosity, including coming from the other side of the town to give me a lift in, an extra 14 miles. Foolish, or sweet? Two conflicting strong impressions of which I have been certain at different times.

Or there are A and B, a lesbian couple. B and I can be quite friendly, when we bump into each other. A stands slightly apart, monosyllabic. I could construct all sorts of stories around that. I am comfortable with B, and embarrassed with A, though wanting to be friendly.

I became aware of my mask or shell, and in February 1999 it appeared suddenly as if I was just me, without it. So strange. What of friends? Sunday afternoon I had lunch with S, and she was chatting away all the time. I really enjoyed it. I felt immediately at home with J, and have seen her since the snakes at the museum, for coffee. This is a friendship I could like. And- what really concerns me, bothers me, worries me, my midnight thoughts, I do not want to share with them because I fear they will judge me. Which may just be my judgment on myself.

I have met two men, beside the Polymath, who have seemed to me unsuccessful but fiercely intelligent. One actually stank- a bulk of resentment in a long black coat. But I have too big a heart to end up like that, surely, friendless without anyone to converse on their level.

5 thoughts on “Masks II

  1. “And- what really concerns me, bothers me, worries me, my midnight thoughts, I do not want to share with them because I fear they will judge me. Which may just be my judgment on myself.”

    Give it some time, but not too long. If their friendships are worthy of yours, then you’ll no longer fear their judgment.

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  2. I really liked this post, Clare. I think masks are an interesting metaphor for the faces we wear, depending on who we’re with. There is still that person behind the mask and I guess if we don’t forget that, then it’s okay at times to put on the mask. I’d say, I have slightly different masks, whether at work, at a party, with a group of friends. And maybe the only time I’m completely without the mask is at home. Maybe it’s just a part of our interactions with others? Try to be ourselves as much as possible, but realize that we do some shapeshifting when necessary?

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