Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a mask, I wear a thousand masks.
Masks that I am afraid to take off
And none of them are me.
Pretending is an art that is second nature to me
But don’t be fooled … for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
That all is sunny and unruffled with me,
Within me as well as without,
That confidence is my name and coolness my game,
And that I need no one.
But don’t believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask.
My ever varying and ever concealing mask
Beneath which lies no smugness, no complacency.
Beneath dwells the real me, in confusion, in fear, alone.
But I hide this.
I don’t want anyone to know.
I panic at the thought that my weakness and fear may be exposed,
So I frantically create a mask to hide behind.
A nonchalant, sophisticated facade to help me pretend.
To shield me from your knowing glance.
But I know your glance is my salvation, my only salvation.
That is, if your glance shows acceptance and love.
Your glance is the one thing that can liberate me from myself,
From my own self erected prison walls,
From the barriers that I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will reassure me
That I really am worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare. I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid your glance will not include acceptance and love.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me.
I’m afraid that deep down I’m nothing, that I’m no good
And you will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my game of pretend.
Confidence on the outside, but a trembling child within.
And so begins the parade of masks.
I chatter with you in suave tones, surface talk.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing
And nothing of what’s real, of what’s crying within me.
So when I go through my routine do not be fooled by what you hear.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying,
What I’d like to be able to say,
What, for my own survival, I need to say,
But what I can’t say. I dislike hiding. Honestly.
I dislike the superficial game I’m playing,
This superficial phony game.
I want to be genuine, spontaneous, be me.
But you’ve got to hold out your hand
Even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away the blank stare of the breathing dead that is in my eyes.
Only you can lead me into the world of the truly living.
Each time you show me kindness, gentleness, encouragement,
Each time you try to understand because you really care
My heart begins to grow wings, very small wings, very feeble wings …
… but wings.
With your sensitivity and empathy, your understanding
You can breath life into me. I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me.
You hold the power that will allow me to be the person I really am
If you choose to. Please choose to …
You alone can break down the wall behind which I hide.
You alone can remove my mask, can release me from my lonely prison.
So please … do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
My long held belief of worthlessness builds very strong walls.
The nearer you approach, the harder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, I know.
But despite what books say about man I am rational.
I fight against the very thing I silently cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than my walls
And therein lies my hope.
Please use firm hands to beat down my walls
But know I need those hands to be gentle,
For this child is very sensitive.
Who am I you ask?
You wonder at the person whom I describe?
I am someone you know very well
For I am every man, woman and child that you meet.
I am all of humanity.
9 thoughts on “PLEASE HEAR WHAT I AM NOT SAYING”
I memorized this once- probably about 15 years ago. Funny seeing it now. It means something different than it did then.
Hi Lindsay. It is definitely a powerful piece. I first discovered it in 1977. The message seems to be timeless and yet ever evolving…
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This poem seems to speak to anyone with even the slightest amount of social anxiety, anyone who knows what it feels like to be out of their element – a mouse in a house full of cats. I enjoyed reading this poem out-loud to myself and I attempted to place my own fears into this poem, fears of being forever lost in my own hometown, fears of remaining confused about my own species, and fears of never obtaining an understanding for how to deal with other people on the most personal of levels.
Thank you for this post.
Thank you. It is my hope that many will see themselves in this poem and find the courage to speak out and speak loud. Best wishes on your journey …
Reblogged this on bootsandmasks and commented:
I can relate to the poem as I also have lived in a prison of darkness. I have also written a poem about a prison, but not as well written as this one. Thank you for sharing your feelings in this beautifully written poem
Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed it. Stay strong.
I have re blogged your poem. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts about depression. I can relate to your words as I have also lived in a prison of darkness. And when I am amongst others I will help my friends who feel low to laugh n smile while screaming and crying behind my own hidden mask.
Thank you 🙂
Let the screaming and crying be out front and loud. When we make our voices heard we automatically, almost by default, experience a surge in our own self importance. It is an intoxicating feeling and rightfully so. Be well my friend ❤️ 5