SHARING and CARING…it’s what LIFE is all about!

Masking Our Fears

Posted by on Nov 16, 2012 in Blog, Family, Memories | 9 comments

Have you ever been afraid…I mean really afraid…the kind of fear that haunts you and becomes part of your daily day: in your thoughts, in your conversations, even in your dreams?

Orson Wells as The Shadow

When I was a child, I shared a bedroom and a bed with my older sister. Most Sunday nights Mary would turn on the radio in our upstairs bedroom long after our light was out, and I had to listen to The Shadow. I say I had to listen because I really had no choice! My sister was four years older than I was and I believed I would be struck with some kind of a life-threatening curse if I complained.

In my own defense, I was just a seven-year-old and The Shadow with Death in the Deep was never a consideration for this timid, introverted child, let alone a weekly ritual. Even though he was a good guy  and “an invincible crime fighter, who could defy gravity, speak any language, and unravel any code,'” his eerie voice was enough for me. Give me Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, maybe Roy Rogers or The Lone Ranger…hi, ho Silver and all of that…but The Shadow?

Despite the intimidation of my sister’s threat, my fear of darkness and a terrifying voice visiting me in the dark overshadowed her. I made such a

Charlie McCarthy with his ‘father’ Edgar Bergen

fuss that until she turned the hall light on, I wouldn’t be quiet!

Fears do that to you. They remove all logic and reasoning, and left unresolved, create unreasonable terror…like being afraid to hang your arm over the edge of the bed in the dark because you’re sure The Shadow lives under your bed and will grab you and drag you into oblivion.

Do you ever try to hide those fears, maybe because you are embarrassed, ashamed or, in some cases, in denial?

Oscar Wilde once said that “man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.” I suppose in some respects that’s true…hiding behind a mask so the real you can come to the front, hiding so that no one knows who you are, to judge you or, worse yet, ridicule you.

But I can’t help wondering if the opposite is more in line with reality. When we are faced with a terrifying fear—or any life concern that we are not ready to share with the world—don’t we often wear a mask and hide behind it? “Hi, how are you?” is put to us and we respond from behind our mask and say, “Fine, thanks. How are you?” never ready or maybe not able to share the shadows that haunt us.

Ever done that?

I’m reminded of a poem, Don’t be Fooled by Me by Charles C. Finn:

Don’t be fooled by me; don’t be fooled by the face I wear

For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks, masks that I am afraid to take off.

And none of them are me.

Pretending is an art that is second nature to me.

But don’t be fooled.

I wonder what Oscar Wilde would think of those words. On retrospect, would he agree? Do you?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Darlene L Turner

    I remember I was always scared to look under the bed or in the closet before going to sleep. HA! Funny how some things stick out in your mind. I believe we all wear masks at one point or another. We want to hide how we’re really feeling. When we remove our masks and let the real us shine through…that’s when we touch others. With God’s help of course. Great post, Ruth. Thanks. Miss you!

  2. Lisa Hall-Wilson

    Fear has a rational and necessary place in our lives, but our own irrational fears can be our undoing. I struggled for a very long time to figure out how to discern the two, but many times they feel like the same thing don’t they! Great story, thanks for sharing.

    • Ruth Waring

      Hey, Lisa…nice to see your name on my post! I totally agree with you, and I think the struggle to figure out the difference between rational and irrational can sometimes be life-long. Always appreciate your slant on things!

  3. Heather

    Alas, a commentary on our human condition. Fears of judgment, stigma, alienation, understanding, acceptance, hate, love, shame and trust. Oscar’s statement is an oxymoron. I believe he would rethink this statement, however only the Shadow knows… Great piece. 🙂

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