Heart’s desire

What do you want?

I know the right answer to that question in the sense of what will produce nods and smiles and happiness in others. If I want that, it will be a sign of Lucie’s success, moving me forward in a quantifiable way. It will be a statistic her manager can report to the funders. So, with my mask on, I would give that right answer and we would both be happy. And I have decided that the mask is my most important problem, the thing I must take off before I do anything else.

I want her to be happy now. That would make me happy (really!) But there would also be a gnawing doubt and resentment underneath, that it was not what I wanted that mattered. The mask is the right answer, which hides my true face, my own feeling. The mask mirrors the other’s feeling, happy when I ought to be happy because the other is happy, or concerned, sad, remorseful, whatever is appropriate in the moment. Under the mask my feelings are otherwise, but the mask shows the right feeling, however painful.

The mask exists because it was essential to ingratiate myself.

I did not know I was wearing the mask, at first. I thought the feelings the mask showed were my feelings. I denied and suppressed the discomfort underneath so that I was unaware of it, then it was a nagging feeling which I could not put my finger on, and now it is the only thing that matters. I remember a moment when the mask would not work, where there were two incompatible appropriate feelings. The Aberdeen University Debater (motto: Thay haif said Quhat say thay? Let þame say) travelled to debate with the Glasgow University Debating Society. We were two teams, and one of our teams was late. I expressed anger at the Aberdonians’ lateness to my Aberdonian partner, and felt contempt from her. I should be sticking up for my lot in front of the Glaswegians, whatever I said to them in private after. I long thought of that story as proof of my cowardice, but now I see it was an insoluble problem: I could not mirror Glaswegian resentment and Aberdonian defiance at the same time.

With the mask clamped over my face, there is no me.

What do you want?

I don’t know. I want Lucie to be reassured- that is, I want the mask. Underneath it, I am anticipating the future, and I feel catastrophising fear. Everything will go wrong and it will be my fault.

In part it is a problem. If my heart, my real self, wanted that, which would please Lucie, it would make life so much easier right now. My conscious self leans down, trying to catch the quiet voice of my heart, but at the same time wanting its answer to be the right one. So I would not know, if I think the answer is “Yes I want that” if it were my heart or the mask speaking.

The trouble is, if my catastrophising belief takes over, I will not do the preparatory work. Unconsciously I will sabotage what the mask claims I want, which will make me feel confused and distressed. So Lucie imposes a target for that of three weeks, with a review when we meet again in two weeks. It is six hours’ work, which I should be able to manage in three weeks, whatever else I have to distract me, whatever else has to be done. Yeah. Logically I can see that. Tolle writes of “Awakened doing”- taking action in the presence of the Life-force, rather than in the ego (mask). That sounds nice. Whole-I might exert its strength, without different parts of me in conflict.

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