I Can't Breathe in This Mask

Dirty Little Secret Continued

I Can't Breathe in This Mask

“Erin, watch where you’re walking.”

“But I can’t see.” I was 4 years old.

I was wearing the first Halloween costume I can remember. I was Isis from the old TV show about the “Super Friends.” I remember being so excited about that costume with its plastic slip over dress and that molded plastic mask with the perpetual grin and the small slits to breathe through. The eye holes clearly didn’t line up with my eyes.

“Just take my hand.” My mom and I went trick-or-treating.

I’m not sure if this is the first time I participated in this past-time, but it’s certainly the first one I remember. And although I loved the costume and what it represented to me (at 4 years old, the ability to become something I wasn’t, even for just a little bit), I couldn’t stand that mask. I could feel my breath going into my eyeballs. I felt like I was suffocating.

“Mom. I can’t breathe in this mask.”

“Well take it off then.” I spent the rest of the night with that plastic mask on top of my head.

Can't believe I actually found a photo of this costume!

We all wear masks through life. Sometimes we change them up. The “I look happy even though I’m not” mask. The “of course I’m listening to you, dear” mask. The “I’m going to survive this quick trip to the superstore” mask that almost breaks its strap every time you get to the checkout line.

Some of us wear multiple masks at once! Currently I have on the “I’m in control” mask on top of the “of course I want to advance and keep on working myself to death” mask on top of the “don’t look at me, I’m just a normal human” mask.

The truth is, I can’t breathe under these masks. The truth is, I’m on the edge of a mental breakdown. I just want to stop and rest for a while. And the big one. I’m not human, not completely. The question at hand: how can I make a life for my family and myself, make ends meet, and be fully and completely myself at the same time?

People who profess to be different, to be special, to be not like the others don’t seem to make it very far in this world. They are teased, ridiculed, laughed off the stage. I’m not saying that I come from another planet. I was born to human parents on this Earth. But, my soul isn’t from here. I have memories of lifetimes as other forms, from other places, from other dimensions than this one.

I have worked so hard to legitimize myself. “See me succeed?” this one particular mask seems to shout from a voice box mounted inside. “See me get another degree? See me working hard to try to make it? See me plugging away hour after hour and losing precious time that could be spent with my family and working on my own personal and spiritual growth? See me not being the weirdo you think I might be?” It takes so much energy to pretend to be something you’re not. It takes misdirection. It takes missing opportunities that could really fulfill you. If only you were strong enough to just be yourself. And for goodness sake, don’t look in the mirror!

The other night I was struggling to get my mind wrapped around this current problem. How can I continue to work at a place where I can’t be myself fully, where I’m not making enough money to sustain my family, but where I have been supported and helped through the end of my master’s degree and they are willing to support me through the long licensure process? I have my master’s degree. This is a natural process that people struggle through as they become professional therapists. But…but… something is missing. If this is a natural process, why am I struggling so? I haven’t been able to put my finger on it yet.

I was bemoaning my woes to my friend who is sensitive to energies and she blurted out, “You need to go back to the library.” I worked at the public library here in town for over 10 years, and though I miss my job, it’s clearly not in the therapeutic field. However, it was calm, predictable, rote work in which I could let my soul journey and take notes while doing my work at the same time. I cannot currently do that.

Coincidentally (well, I don’t happen to believe in coincidences. Everything happens for a reason) I had just learned that my old position at the library had reopened. I learned that just a day before my friend had the insight that I needed to go back. “My God, maybe you’re right,” I told her. So, I messaged my old boss. We talked back and forth about the pros and the cons, and she told me that no matter what I choose she’ll support me. I hemmed and hawed. I said to my husband, as he brought me dinner “I think I’ll apply for my old job at the library. What do you think?”

He looked at me blankly. It was like he stopped breathing. Eventually, he said, “I’m going to go wash some forks for us to eat with,” and he turned around and marched back into the kitchen.

I followed him. “Did you hear what I said? Because what you said was incongruent with what I said.”

“I heard you,” he said, “I just didn’t know what to say.”

I made my way back to the living room and slumped back on the couch in a pout. The thought “I can’t not be myself,” reverberated in my mind. I can no longer live under this false identity I’ve put forth in the world. This identity of a strong, well put together woman, striving for an achievement that will take several more years to accomplish. In reality, I’m falling apart at the seams, suffering from deep anxiety, and I’m just not sure what I want anymore.

A commercial came on TV while I sat there debating with myself. “Do you love your job and your coworkers but still feel this nagging sensation that you aren’t doing what you are supposed to be doing in life?”

My jaw dropped so fast that my chin actually hit my chest. Did I really just hear that? Yes, I did. It was a commercial for going back to school after being in a career. It was perfectly timed, I really couldn’t discount it as coincidence.

Besides worrying about how to maintain my true self while I’m working, I’ve been doing my best to fully be myself without constraint. The more I stay true to me, the more people seem to gather close to hear what I have to say. I’m finally starting to feel that what I have to talk about, myself and my life, is valid and valuable to others. I’ve recently been flooded with friend requests on Facebook. That may not seem to be a big deal, but I’ve gone from 189 people to over 900 in just a few weeks. I think that’s significant. I’ve been approached to do a pod cast and have had an interview for a TV show. None of this would have happened if I wasn’t standing in my truth.

What does being authentic actually mean? What does it look like? Being authentic is going to look different to each person. It takes courage to live life with the strength to not bow down to societal expectations, family expectations, and to fully embody one’s true self. The ideal American male is strong, makes a good living, and always virile. Society wants a woman to be thin, blonde, a superwoman who can juggle a family and a full-time job seamlessly. The American woman loves makeup and wants to remain young looking forever. This isn’t me. It isn’t most people. Many people have family traditions that are hard to break away from. Often, living authentically means stepping away from those traditions.

There are pros and cons to living authentically. Just as with all choices, there are benefits and pitfalls to living your life authentically. On the downside, you may lose friends and family who don’t believe in what you are saying. You may lose a job or potential jobs if being yourself doesn’t align with them. On the plus side, you’ll attract people with similar beliefs. You’ll have greater acceptance and increased understanding of people’s differences. You’ll attract opportunities that will help you grow and solidify, or evolve, your understanding of who and what you are.

I’ve never lived without a mask of one sort or another. What would I be if there was nothing to hide behind? When I’m being completely honest with myself, this place is not one that I’m familiar with. By place I mean Earth, in this human bodysuit that just doesn’t fit right and tends to hurt. Moisture in the air, no matter how slight, hurts. Emotions are strange, powerful tools that I feel slightly disconnected from, until they come crashing in on me and I’m completely overwhelmed by them.

Over the last 20 years or so I've come to understand myself as a Starseed. A Starseed is someone whose soul came from a world apart from Earth. We often have difficulties fitting in, feeling like we’re on the outskirts of humanity looking in. We may become confused with social and cultural norms, stretching the boundaries of what’s acceptable. A Starseed is usually able to perceive stimuli with senses beyond the recognized human 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch). Our biological bodies will often have oddities and we often become frustrated with the constraints of our physical form. Often a Starseed will have memories of living in a different world, or of being something other than human. And, as I have noted repeatedly through my articles, we often have a mission that we feel we’ve come to Earth to accomplish.

Do you recognize yourself in this description?

When I was a child of about 12, I’d stand in front of the mirror and stare at myself. I’d drape a necklace with a tiny sapphire my grandmother had given me over my forehead. I remember looking deep into my own eyes and pretending that I was a liaison between humans and an alien race. I felt regal, noble, entrusted with a sacred duty. At the time I had no idea that the dark blue of the sapphire actually represents the third-eye Chakra that I was draping it over, but it seems I may have instinctively been letting my true self come to the surface guised in imagination.

Here I am. Naked of any masks. Standing before you now. I am a star person. I am still learning to live in this body. I don’t like it. It’s cumbersome, awkward, difficult to keep in balance and functioning properly, especially with wonderful substances like sugar and carbohydrates that my mind wants in excess. I came here, to Earth, for a particular purpose and that’s to ease communications between humans and other sentient beings, to allow both parties to work together from positions of strength and open-mindedness, from a place of healing and integration.

With this revelation, how can I stand up strong and maintain my role as a healer when other professionals may think me insane? My role as a therapist is not any different from the mission I came to serve on this planet. I’m here to help people be more comfortable in their own skin. To heal traumas. To reduce knee-jerk reactions while increasing self-worth and love of others. The truth is, I can’t help people as well as I could if I put on a mask. If I’m not being truly myself I can’t help them to truly be themselves either.

We are all beautiful. We are all here for a purpose. Let us stand strong, together, without masks, and know it is OK to just be who we are. To just be and live life to the fullest, no matter our soul’s origin. We’re here now, and we should take advantage of our differences instead of fearing what we don’t understand.

I’m an alien contactee and a Starseed. Who are you?

extraterrestrial
Erin Montgomery
Erin Montgomery
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Erin Montgomery

Erin Montgomery works as a counselor by day and works as a psychic, energy healer, and clears both places and people of spirits any time she can. 

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