Of late, I’ve been in several meetings where the idea of imposter phenomenon or imposter syndrome came up in more than one share. Now in my sixth decade of life, and second decade of recovery, I still feel the need to pretend, to hide my true self. Some of my earliest memories from elementary school are of feeling inadequate academically, athletically and socially.
I tried to be more than I was. Upon reflection, by several measures I’m accomplished, yet I fear being judged and compared. I fear disappointing others – of letting those dependent upon me down. I fear you’ll see my weaknesses and flaws beneath the veneer I wear.
I now can see that the fear of not measuring up, of letting others down was connected to my dependence on alcohol. Today, I am aware of the urge to put on well-worn masks (I’m okay, I’m fine, I don’t need any help, I’ve got this thanks) to pretend, to fit in, to appear comfortable within my skin. But it’s only when I take off my mask and resist the urge to put them on, that I become willing to see me and to let you see me as I am, that I am truly free.
These Masks I Used to Wear
This person in the mirror I do see
Looks quite familiar sometimes
And sometimes a stranger it seems
The visage it does resemble me
A me that I used to be
Beneath the wrinkles and scars
Sometimes I long for that
Once upon a time me
When my universe was
Replete with possibility unbound
An optimistic idealist I was
But sometimes I must admit
The me that I see is of life unfulfilled
Of never quite measuring up nor making the grade
And so in fear I reach for a familiar mask
The mask that hides my sorrow and shame
That covers up my disappointment and pain
I try it on but it’s grown in comfortable to wear
So I put it away and I sigh letting you see me
This me all the of me the just exactly as I am me
About the Author
Robert B. is a sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.