This is one of my favorite collages in my altered book because of the doll with the mask. She’s taken off her mask to reveal a luminescent face underneath. I haven’t written anything (yet) on this page but I know there is more to learn when I take off my mask.
I have been playing with masks for a very long time and I do consider it an adventure in mask making. Exploring the symbol of the mask and how we present ourselves to the world is truly a way to understand what our old programming is telling us.
Our outside face consists of the “good” person we were taught to be. Mine is made up of being the happy one that can mold herself into the best version to suit the situation. I always made sure that people around me are happy and to smooth over any conflict.
Do you feel the “I should. . . “, “measure up”, and “you can’t do that”? Know that is just something that was programmed into you at an early age – it’s not the real you! This mask flows out of the judge part of ourselves that tells us we aren’t enough.
The judge/inner critic develops to protect us from being hurt. When we acted as our real selves growing up and were told that isn’t how we should behave it tore open our little inexperienced souls. To protect ourselves we instinctively grew a part of our mask to show our “good” selves.
It’s in the parts of us that we feel are ugly that we truly reside. It’s the tender underneath parts we need to gently coax out again because that is where we shine! Here’s an example: I was always a talker in school which is due to the teacher side of me and that got me into trouble more times than I can count. Now I have a little voice that tells me that talking is bad and to be quiet. It’s a good thing my rebel side is stronger even though that is another “bad” part of me.
I wasn’t allowed to own any of my opinions growing up if it went against a certain authority figure. To this day I have trouble voicing my truth to men because that inner judge is still strong because I saw the wrath of trying to stand up for myself. This is one reason why I am very grateful for my boyfriend because I can test out my true voice with him and I am safe even if we disagree.
There are many ways to explore your mask. I have used a plastic mask you can buy at a craft store many times as symbols in my art.
You can draw a mask on an oval to represent your outward self (like the one I did above) and label the parts you have conformed to.
If you’d like your exploration to be less obvious or you don’t have a mask to use do a flap in your book.
Start with your background on a page. I used my bottles of distressed ink and then stamped all over with a rubber stamp in the same colors. You really can’t see that on the page anymore and that’s ok. When you start with the background it gives you time to get into your page like a meditation.
I used a piece of card stock as my “mask” and collaged my outside self on it. I decided where I was going to tape it down and then collaged around it.
I taped the flap down and then collaged my inside self underneath the card. I wrote a note to myself on the backside of the card. I found that my outside and inside are looking more alike these days as I practice being true to who I really am.
It started a long time ago as I identified the differences between my outside mask and who I really am. After I really looked at the parts of my mask, I could start to practice being supportive to those “bad” parts of me. We tend to shove a lot down especially if we aren’t validated as little kids. Unpacking these tender parts is emotional because it can bring up painful memories. Once you bring them out, and be a witness to the scars, the pain can flow away.
This process is simple to write down but doing it is hard because there are a lot of emotions tied up with these parts. This takes practice to validate yourself and honor these “bad” parts. Always do self discovery in baby steps and only what you can. It does happen in layers so don’t be scared that all your crap comes rushing out in a flood. I have been practicing being kind to all my parts for years and it does happen organically in baby steps.
Start with looking at your best parts and be really honest with yourself. Sometimes honoring ourselves feels like we’re bragging but that isn’t the case. We honor the truth inside us and the truth is that we are wonderful pieces of a beautiful universe.