So Why Do It?  

curious082385 32F
4230 posts
4/14/2006 1:28 am

Last Read:
11/14/2006 4:18 am

So Why Do It?

This post was inspired by reading StillSmokin2oo6's post, [post 308348] about why people pretend to be someone other then their true self. Putting out the warning now, if you are looking for a light-hearted, impersonal or short post to read, you might want to skip this one.

When I was about 2 years old, I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of my mother crying. Sneaking out of bed, I tiptoed down the hallway and peeked around the corner. My mother was sobbing in my father's arms in a bloodstained nightgown. She was having a miscarriage...of a baby they had only just found out about.
"What if I can never have another baby? What if I can't get pregnant again? What if she is the only one I ever have?"
This was the first time I had ever seen either one of my parents cry and suddenly the realization that mommies and daddies could be hurt too came crashing down on me. In my little 2-year old mind, Mommy was unhappy and crying because of me.
If I had been a better daughter, she wouldn't be so upset about only having me, right?
If I had been a perfect daughter, she wouldn't have wanted or needed another baby to hold, right?

Over the next few years, there were several more events that reinforced this belief. Then when I four, the physical abuse from my maternal grandmother (who lived next door at the time) started. I knew how close my mom and my grandma were and I knew how hurt Mom would be if she learned that Grandma was hitting me. And one morning, the thought occurred to me. I obviously wasn't the perfect golden child that my mother wanted....but maybe I wasn't a total loss after all. You see, I realized that I had the power to protect Mommy. By hiding the abuse from her, I was saving her from being hurt. She would never know that I had helped her, but I would know. I would know that I wasn't useless. (remember these are the thoughts of a 4-year old Curious, not the 20 year old)

Always be as perfect as you can.
Don't let your parents be hurt by your pain.

By the time I was five, these two were the driving force behind everything I thought, did, said and was. Every decision and choice was carefully measured against those two ideas. It got the point of being ridiculous. My parents love the outdoors and being in the wild. On the road to my uncle's house, the mountains have been very heavily clear cut, leaving huge ugly scars on the hills. I remember knowing that the sight of them caused my parents sadness and for the whole time we were driving through that area, I would try desperately to keep their attention on me in the hopes that they wouldn't look out the window. Crazy, huh?

Eventually, over time, those two ideals expanded to include everyone, not just my parents.
Mistakes are inexcusable.
Never let them see you cry.
Always perfect, always poised.
Say the right thing, do the right thing, be the right thing.
I became the "perfect daughter". I rarely broke the rules, pushed myself to excel in school, did everything that was asked of me. Not that any of that is a bad thing...just that I was doing it to keep up a facade, not because I truly wanted to for myself.

When my sister's problems began, I was about 11 and the whole family ended up in therapy sessions to learn how to understand and deal with her. Somewhere in those sessions, our therapist realized that my sister wasn't the only one with self-imposed complexes. She is the one who put all of the puzzle pieces together for me and helped me realize how misguided my thoughts were. Those original concepts that drove my behavior are no longer ones that I believe in, but after holding to them for 11 years, they are hard to shake and it is something that I still struggle against sometimes. Letting other people see me cry or see me lose control is very hard for me and, in public, I tend to mold myself into the "perfect Curious", whatever that might be depending on the situation. In situations of pressure or vulnerability, that "toned-down" mask still comes up. Defenses snap into place and, if you say or do something to hurt me, you'll never see it. I go cold. I know who I am inside, but those walls rarely come fully down except with those who are closest to me. And here in this place.

StillSmokin2oo6 asked, "why do some people try so hard to fit in, even if it means becoming something or someone that they aren't?" I know why I started doing it, why I fought so hard to be what everyone expected me to be. But knowing that I had a reason doesn't change the fact that, up until I was about 17, the majority of my choices were made based on what I thought everyone else wanted, not because of what Curious wanted for herself.

Now, here is the question. Who I am in public is certainly a mask, a persona that I take on when I'm around strangers or in a state of vulnerability...but it is still me. Just with certain aspects toned down and with defenses very much in place. More cautious and guarded.
But does that make me a fake?

GoddessOfTheDawn 106F
11240 posts
4/14/2006 2:01 am


at least not in my book. You survived!

rm_pharlap1930 36M
25 posts
4/14/2006 2:18 am

That doesn't make you a fake. That makes you human. Whenever people are in situations that are "foreign" to them, they do their best to assimilate or conform to the views of their peers. I can say that I have done this and it is not until you feel comfortable that you will let your guard down and embrace others into your circle of trust and allowing them to be associates, friends or something more. I hope my opinions and thoughts have provided some answers for you.

rm_1hotwahine 64F
21091 posts
4/14/2006 2:20 am

To thine own self be true. If you are, then the answer is no. If you aren't then you're human.

That was my glib response.

My real one is this--

We are not compelled to show every bit of ourselves to everyone. What you've described (the "you" of today) sounds to me like you exercise discretion (willing or otherwise) in revealing yourself. The way I'm looking at it is that this might actually be an indication of the opposite - a greater ability to be real.

Yeah, I'm still [blog 1hotwahine]

8337 posts
4/14/2006 2:24 am

You're not a fake, but you're still not essentially what you are.

Exactly what you are, without filters and barriers.

I understand why you hide yourself, as a defense mechanism to survive, and it's completely understandable.

To answer your question succinctly, you are not a fake, but you aren't exactly true either.

Most people don't have the courage to be what they are 24-7. They don't have the fortitude to take the punishment (negative reinforcement) that comes with it.

Society likes puppets, but not people who are individuals.


"My every move is a calculated step, to bring me closer to embrace an early death." -Tupac Shakur

papyrina 52F
21133 posts
4/14/2006 4:26 am

your as human as all of us,we all were differant masks at differant times.Self protection in differant stages of our lives.hugs honey,

I'm a

i'm here to stay

dasher121 37M

4/14/2006 5:49 am

no it doesnt make you fake at all, its a defence mechanism. We all havd and use them, they are just different to each person.

nightstalker172 38M
1258 posts
4/14/2006 6:37 am

I dont think you're being fake...your defenses are part of who you are and anyone who says they dont have them at times is lieing. More often then not Im alot like you in the respect of going cold...I do that alot...but its because mainly if I get upset...I dont cry...I tend to...lash out whether it be verbally or physically depending on the victim...I tend to go cold to prevent prevent hurting someone else...emotionaly or physically...Its my way of controlling my temper and typicaly I'll do something physical to vent it later...often ending in my own injury depending on how upset I am...I rarely pay attention to my physical limits when Im "upset"...been to physical therapy one too many times..but if Im lucky..Ill get the cute nurse to give me a massage ...but I dont think being cautious is being fake

caressmewell 55F

4/14/2006 7:06 am

Your not fake..many put up walls or wear masks to protect themselves, we all do it to different degrees.

StillSmokin2oo6 45M/44F

4/14/2006 9:03 am

That's not fakin or pretending, your just protecting yourself...
If you can open up like that, your obviously comfortable in your own skin!!! Amazing post, thanks for sharin it....

Seriously_Real 49M

4/14/2006 5:59 pm

Fake? No. All there all the time? No. I am a musician. Does that mean I'm fake when I'm not singing? No. I am a lawyer, who uses linear logic to address crises. Does that mean that I cannot write poetry (okay, shut up)? Of course not. Situations dictate what our response is.

HOWEVER....A defense is different from being who we are. Smiling through clenched teeth (as I do at EVERY visit from my parents) is fake. It is an understandable defense, but it is not who I am.

So, I guess, you see there is a differnce between being fake and being different in different situations. That's my take.

It bothers me that our society is constructed in such a way as to encourage pretending one emotion over a real one. It is what leads to anxiety, depression, and breakdowns.

Then again, if we were all so liberated, there'd be alot more fights in bars, restaurants and blogs, too....


onelittlesecret 34M
1579 posts
4/14/2006 10:10 pm

When I'm in a situation where I feeling maybe scared, my "defense" is to try to exude happiness and confidence.

Then later on, when I’m by myself, I get to thinking that because what I was putting on was an act, then my true self must really be a frightened, miserable soul.

But maybe it’s kind of like what I was talking about in my poem; where because we feel a part of ourselves is being neglected, we get to feeling that the part that isn’t is fake.

The truth is, often times I am genuinely happy and confident, just some of the times I’m not. The defenses we develop do help us do what we feel is best short-term, but because they’re instinctual, it can be hard at times to get rid of them when they’re no longer helping us.

A young tree that was growing in the forest had two light sources to choose from. One gave it’s light in the early morning, the other at high noon. Naturally, it ended up growing toward the more bright afternoon light, it’s leaves reaching out high and bountiful.

Something happened as the years passed though. As the young tree grew taller, so did the other, older trees around out it. And as the limbs and the leaves on the other trees grew, the light from that afternoon sun grew less and less, until finally the forest canopy blocked it out completely.

The young tree, desperate, then looked for another source of light. And there it was, the morning sun, still peeking through. But our young tree’s branches had grown too high, it’s leaves couldn’t reach into the light, and it was left in darkness to slowly pass away.

Moral of the story: good thing we’re more flexible than trees.

rm_corezon 54F
3376 posts
4/15/2006 1:51 pm

No, hon, it doesn't mean that you are fake.

Most sane people have different personas for different situations and stresses and they are all legitimate facets of our personalities. I cannot say or do everything I think at work; I have a professional, social persona for work but it is only one aspect of my personality and it is advantageous for me to have it.

Some personas are defensive personas...we all have to learn to defend ourselves at some point in time and women in particular try to be appear obedient and likeable rather than aggressive fighters.

The most important thing for healthy self-growth is that you recognize your personas, especially the ones that tend NOT to bring you what you really want; the ones that you lapse into out of habit. Once understand the origin of the persona and become aware that that particular persona and aspect of your personality is no longer serving the purposes of your whole self you are in a much better position to rework it in a way that will. Instead of it controlling you, you become able to control it.

Theator has always been terrifically interesting to me; actors and actresses strive to readily assume the personas of the parts they are playing. It seems to me that this is the pinnacle of control. They identify with the persona but they do not mistake it for being THEM. (at least they shake themselves out of it once part is over; but maybe each of these assumed personas always stays inside of them, ready to be dusted off if it is ever needed again) To control a dysfunctional persona, you must consciously be aware of it AND become aware that you are distinct from it and that you can CHOOSE not to allow it to become you.

Thinking about the arts and your gift for writing...and I think you are very gifted, leaves me with another thought. I think professional fiction writers also indulge in personification when they are creating their characters and giving reason to their actions and helps them predict the actions of their characters...these things help make a good story! The common belief is that most first books are much more personal and autobiographical than later've got to cross that line, pull from reality and create a parallel world. I think it gets easier once you have managed the first book hurdle.

curious082385 32F
4925 posts
4/17/2006 4:39 am

Thank you to all who responded to this one. This was one of those vulnerable, debated-on-leaving-it-up posts...but I'm glad I did. Wonderful feedback and always.

Fox4aKnight1 44F

4/17/2006 6:32 am

Curious, I am sorry I took so long to come over here and visit. But I need to say something on this. Or at least feel I need to. You recognise that they are a part of you. But think in one of my recent posts I belive I said that people have factets like a jewel. You can't always see the whole jewel. But they are real. As real as anything else. We all see things most often how we want to see things. Sometimes we put up parts of ourselves that are tougher or more mean to help us deal with things. Or we do whatever makes us more comfortable. But that does not make us fakes. It simply means we are allowing people to make their own assumptions either about us or not. We do not have to tell everyone everything about ourselfves.

hugs Kelli

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