Many of us may have grown up with highly controlling parents and learned to hide what we thought and built ourselves masks to hide behind in order to feel safe. We gave the appearance of being a happy child to those we met but inside were screaming. “I cannot say or be or what I really feel.” Therefore we learned to put on a mask everywhere. 

At school kids would bully hiding your outward feelings until you got to your private area where you could let your emotions explode. The mask got more defined as you matured because that is a form of survival. Thinking you can get rid of the mask by being successful in business, marriage, or developing a talent begins to allow you to try and take off the mask until you are ridiculed or rejected in which you put the mask back on. A counselor said that I needed to become a pastor. So I became an ordained pastor yet, I had to put on new masks because people think pastors never make mistakes and put you on a pedestal with expectations that no one can meet. 

When I had to go through a divorce, I was scolded, so a heavier mask was constructed. Even today some people do not try to understand feelings and accept a person just as God created them. These masks can lead to times of personal depression. Today we meet people and friends and when they ask, “How are you today?” Our response is always, “Fine!” They are not really interested in how people are doing, we just say the words. In my efforts to get rid of my mask, I have learned to ask a second question, “How are you, REALLY?” Most people will then break down a wall and mask to tell you how they are really feeling. Listen to them as they attempt to get rid of the mask. 

When I have a couple of close friends who accept me for being transparent, the mask comes off. I have made the mistake of being transparent only to have it thrown back into my face later on. That makes the mask out of steel when around them. It has been through an introduction to nudism that I have friends who accept and like me for whom I really am. My first experience was apprehensive because of a physical condition with my body. 

What I discovered was that nudism allows you to get rid of the mask and no one is critical. The most difficult part is that when I go back into the clothing life, I find that the mask has to go back on. I appreciate the folks associated with AANR in that I can learn to have the mask down and appreciate what God created. Using a pen name for all my writings avoids more criticism. Getting rid of a mask is a lifetime effort. What mask are you wearing?