The False Self

samuel-zeller-336980-unsplashUnless you’re one of the few friends or family members who know the connection between the real me and this page, you most likely don’t know who I truly am. That is by intention, that is by design. I hide behind the mask of a multitude of interconnected devices where information travels at the speed of light. I maintain this facade for two primary reasons: I have a day job where I’m a known and respected leader of others. More critically, I have several family members who have no idea of the stories I share, the stories I simply must give birth to when I can’t hold the truth in any longer, and who would be shocked to find out the fingers pecking at this keyboard belong to me. If they knew the true me behind this mask, they’d surely brand me as worse than the Devil himself. I’m drawing much closer to the day when the infinitesimally small part of me that still cares if there’s even the slimmest of threads connecting myself to those who shun me is going to relent.

Which further exacerbates the problem that continues to nag at me like sand flies on a hot summer beach.

I have a strong desire to be needed. I’ve learned to obtain significant boosts of dopamine from praise for my writing or the endless likes and positive comments on my social media posts. Unfortunately, but purposefully, this attention is being provided to my alter ego, to the persona who wishes to please and serve others. At an early stage in my development, I experienced parents and parental figures who proved to be wildly unpredictable, and at times abusive both physically and mentally. The suffering often washed over me and drowned me, yet I found a path to survival by creating a personality that appeared to have it all together. My teachers, my few friends, and those in my place of worship, knew little if anything about what I endured at home. By the age of nine,  I fancied myself friends with the superheroes of the day, and then ultimately became one in my own right, The Everything Kid, which turned into the Halloween costume I never wore, a story for another day.

The Everything Kid stuck with me, and through the years I became this impressive child, then young adult, and finally a full fledged adult who for all outward appearances seemed to have it all together. Those around me admired this “whiz kid,” as I was often called, buzzing about his tasks with a deftness typical of someone much older or more highly experienced. I could, and would, adopt any costume as my own, like a chameleon who blends in with his surroundings to avoid becoming prey. I studied others intensely, watched their mannerisms closely, and took bits and pieces from everyone along the way in creating and recreating my superhuman, yet supremely false self.

I became so miserably good at fooling others. But I fooled myself as well.

I woke up somewhere in my mid-forties. My soon to be third wife came into my life and pushed a large mirror up to my face. That is what the best partners and bosses do; they allow individuals to see their true reflection in the glorious and hideous bright light of day. They see through your contrived, outward appearance. For some, the mirror may serve as a life-altering day of reckoning, while for others it serves as a welcome and pleasurable relief. Granted, the cognitive therapy I’d participated in for much of the seven years prior to meeting her had already paved the way. It was after I’d fully understood how my parents manipulated me for their own interests that I was ready to do the much harder work of moving myself in alignment with my authentic, true self.

By no means is this work done. I’m not yet ready for the big reveal, for the merger of my two personas, or for the joy of casting aside my superhero costume for the last time. I’m still trying to figure out what the combined selves will look like. Perhaps I should just let the chips fall?  That wouldn’t be like me at all. I’ve mastered the art of being guarded. I need to maintain control over the process. Perhaps this too is something I’ll learn to let go of. I know my weaknesses, but I also know that rushing toward a conclusion doesn’t always provide for the best outcomes. I’ve been down that road countless times.

For further information, please read “How the False Self Gets Created,” on Barry and Janae Weinhold’s interesting site, “Resources for Creating an Authentic Life,” found at https://weinholds.org/how-the-false-self-gets-created/#