I was recently asked, as a part of group workshop, to think of a side of my personality right now that I don’t like and to then decorate a mask to represent that character trait. Initially thrilled at the thought of doing some ‘Art Therapy’ I quickly became very apprehensive.
It didn’t take long for me to identify the part I dislike the most though. Its quite simply all the worry, fear and anxiety that I carry around with me and that has taken a hold of my life for the last 4 months. I had no idea how that would transpire on a mask and then it dawned on me – it was manifesting itself in my head, through my thoughts and was working its way down through the rest of my body.
I grabbed some wrapping paper, tore it up and started to glue it around the forehead, sprinkling over some sequins to represent the hundreds of thoughts I had day and night that were uncontrollable. All the “what ifs” and “whys” that went round and round, all the hundreds of lists of things I needed to try and remember about what I should and shouldn’t be doing, how my life was, and what it is now, why this had happened and what was going to happen to me, to my life and how that would affect the people I love around me. Millions upon millions of thoughts that were mounting up and weighing me down.
The black areas below my eyes then became the weight that worry was having, causing me sleepless nights and huge amounts of pain and anxiety.
Tearing up pink tissue paper I covered the rest of the face. Keeping the seems open and tattered to show the effect this was having on the rest of my body and how it was tearing me apart.
The shiny, smiley sticker faces above the eyes are for all the times people ask me how I am. “Yeah, everything’s fine thanks. How are you?” had become the standard response but it was just too far from the truth for me to feel comfortable to share. The smiles are quite simply the faces I wear to make everyone else feel better.
The whole exercise was very telling and explaining it all to the rest of the group was incredibly emotional. It made me realise though that I am only hurting myself by worrying and letting my fear rule my life.
This was my face, the fear.