“Don’t let them change you,” he managed to whisper between gasps. He reached into the pocket of his trousers with his remaining strength and pulled out a beautiful locket with a crystal embedded in the front and dropped it into my open palm. “You’re my perfect snow angel, don’t forget that…” As his voice began to fade I leaned closer hoping to hear him say just one more thing.
“Philip? Philip please, please, don’t leave me! I can’t do this without you. Please…” it was no use, there was no longer vigor coursing through his once strong body. His blue eyes, once as vibrant as a crystal lake, had iced over with a lifeless glaze that finally broke me beyond repair. There was no stopping the tears that were flowing heavily now as I pulled the shell of the man I loved as close to me as I could.
If there was one thing I needed right now, it was time: time to process, to grieve, to begin healing. Unfortunately that’s the one thing I didn’t have… they would be coming after me too.
I laid him down beneath our favorite Weeping Willow tree, whose branches had long been frozen over with a layer of ice so thick that it looked like a master artisan had crafted it out of glass. I gently kissed him on the lips for the last time and clasped the locket he’d given me around my neck. I put my disguise back on and slipped out from under the tree’s drooping limbs into a journey I had never predicted for myself.
“Don’t let them change you,” he had said. I guess he didn’t realize they already had…
The above passage is a piece that I wrote to accompany the backstory for a character I was able to portray in a photo shoot this winter. The concept for the shoot was to capture a lonely snow queen who had recently lost her fiancé because of the villagers’ anger and incapability to understand the need for winter. Because she is running away in the storyline, I wanted her to be captured outside in her element, and for the viewers to be able to see the evolution from sadness and loss, to acceptance and power. Once I got to the shoot and the photographer, Jessica Malone, saw that I had brought a mask with me, she decided to take the concept a step farther and have a very defining moment of the queen finally removing her mask, which ends up being the turning point not only in my character’s story, but in many of our stories, as well.
For those who have been following me for a long time (let me just say, thanks for that), you may have seen my previous post Laying Down the Masks. For those just tuning in, feel free to check it out, but I’ll also give you a brief run down; that post was written at a time when I felt that I wasn’t very confident being fully the real me without a mask, which in this case I was referring to my characters on stage and sometimes off. Since that post, I have talked about how I have begun pursuing some performing opportunities again because in that time I was able to discover more about myself and I feel that I can have a healthy balance of truly being me while still having a passion for acting. With that being said, this time around, laying down the mask has taken on a whole new meaning.
Yes, I feel as though I don’t necessarily hide behind my characters anymore, but completely ridding myself of all of my masks is a more in depth process then I may have realized in the beginning. Just as the snow queen in my story, things people have done and said have changed me more than I even recognized at the time. Like her wearing a disguise due to being afraid that the villagers would identify her, sometimes fear is still the main thing that keeps me from really moving forward in true freedom. While I addressed fear in that previous post, I just felt it was worth discussing more thoroughly because I’m so tired of letting it dictate my decisions.
The problem with fear is that it is almost always speculative. Based on sometimes only one previous event, our minds decide that every event is going to occur just like that and talk ourselves out of even attempting to find out otherwise. It causes us to sit and stew on every possible version of what if, and usually in my case, come to a conclusion that the risk isn’t worth it because of those theories.
We cannot let the fear of what may or may not happen keep us from truly finding out what will actually happen.
In my case, my masks may have already been removed, but the fear is keeping me from leaving them behind me and truly believing that I have the potential to do more than I imagined with God’s help. For you, maybe you’re still on step one; the fear of finally removing the mask you’ve been wearing for so long is relentlessly whispering, “you can’t do it.”
My friend, aren’t you tired of just pretending to be who you think they want you to be?
I believe in you. I believe that God crafted you for a purpose. Don’t let fear keep you from it…let’s do it together. I will warn you, it’s not easy; it’s a process. We may go through more stages of fear, anger, or doubt, but because we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength (The Holy Bible; Philippians 4:13), we can also arrive at a place of peace and triumph.
So, as the last of winter’s briskness fades and transitions into the bright blooms of spring, let’s leave our masks and our fear in the snow and watch it all melt as we move confidently forward together!
All photo credit goes to the unique and extremely talented photographer, Jessica Malone, of Requiem & Revelry. I highly suggest you go check out more of her work!
More of the journey after the mask is no longer an issue…