Friday, December 20, 2013

Removing the Mask

I have had many a defining moment in my life; driving overland back from India on my 1965 Enfield, crashing into the sea in a helicopter whilst filming in Dubai and last week going to my great mates Joseph’s 40th and being sober!

For those who don’t drink this is not a big issue, but for those that do, big social occasions such as these, are so much easier to cope with ‘armed and dangerous’.


I guess, because it offers an opportunity to put on a mask, and escape from the rigmarole of daily life. We can conjure up a new fa├žade that makes us feel more special, beautiful, confident, but invariably has the opposite effect. The mask fills the void - that uncomfortable place where our emotions are real and raw, and present themselves as; fear, insecurity, loneliness, abandonment etc. And it is precisely those emotions that need to be acknowledged and nurtured because they are real and who we are. The mask just helps us hide from these.

The reason why this is so prevalent for me right now is because the man behind the mask I know so well. He is my shadow - the ‘party man’, and we are great friends and have been on many journeys together. But my challenge right now is how much does this ‘mask’ serve me and more importantly who am I without it? The honest answer is I don’t have a clue, but I am willing to find out.

Anyway, back to the party………

We had hired a house down on the coast where the sea lapped at our feet. It was really good friends from far and wide coming together to bless and honour one man’s birthday. We had the band, the dj’s, the kegs of beer, cases of wine, and of course my favourite – fine tequila.

It is precisely this scene that warrants the mask. How am I going to get through this without some assistance? Under normal circumstances, it is precisely at this stage that the most over whelming feeling takes over and I decide to have a drink. There is a  little gremlin which sits behind my right ear and is better known as the ‘fuck it switch’, whereby I instinctively go against my better judgment and invariably have a drink or roll a smoke.

But something changed for me this night and when that gremlin showed itself, I took myself down to the sea and took a few deep breaths, felt my feet on the ground and the wind in my hair and gave myself a little talking to.

It went something along the lines of, ‘if you want to go back up there and pour yourself a pint and get stuck in it is entirely your choice and no body is stopping you. But the challenge is that you will fall back down the rabbit hole, which is exactly where you do not want to be. Why would you consciously do that?

So I guess that is where the self-sabotage comes in. 99% of the time, the urge to put on the mask is so strong and very often sub-conscious, and I end up getting fairly smashed, waking up with a hang over from hell and regretting the night before.

So it felt good to have broken the habit,  I was in bed by midnight and woke up clear as a bell feeling like I had a real break through.

I have said from the beginning that this is an experiment and what I noticed just from that night alone is that I was much more present, grounded, interested and the impact was that I talked to people that I would normally have given a wide berth, and consequently were enriched by their stories. I woke up clear as a bell and was able to engage with my four kids fully rather than nursing a hang over and best of all I followed my heart and it felt good.

Wishing everyone a wild wacky Christmas, ‘pissed as a fart,’ ‘high as a kite’ or  ‘sober as a judge’ - we are all on our own journeys !


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