While i was cleaning and purging the office in my home recently, i stumbled upon a very lengthy old poem i had sitting in a file along with a few other articles. The poem doesn’t have a date or signed by anyone other than at the end signed Anon and in brackets ( When you can say this with your heart, pass it on. )
I received this poem, Please Hear What I’m Not Saying in the mid 80’s while living in Bangor ME. My life was a mess then and it was by the grace of GOD that i had been given a wonderful opportunity with a new way of seeing that would allow me to be a better person. So many years later this poem still reminds me of where i was at emotionally and spiritually. I can’t believe I held on to this for so many years. I am reminded change happens only when we face ourselves and admit to another human or to the GOD of our understanding that we need help. In other words, the moment we surrender and allow the masks to fall we create space for change to happen. I feel it’s important and time to pass this poem on.
Please Hear What I’m Not Saying
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’m afraid to take off,
and none of them are me.
Pretending is an art that’s second
nature with 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 as well
as without, that confidence is my
name and coolness my game, that the
water’s calm and i’m in command,
and that I need no one.
But don’t believe me. Please.
My surface may seem smooth, but
my surface is my mask,
my ever-varying and ever-concealing mask.
Beneath lies no smugness, no complacence.
Beneath dwells the real me, in confusion,
in fear, in aloneness.
But I hide this.
I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness
and fear being exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask
to hide behind, a nonchalant,
sophisticated facade, to help me
pretend, to shield me from
the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my
salvation. My only salvation.
And i know it.
That is if it’s followed by acceptance,
if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me
from myself, from my own self-built
prison walls, from the barriers that
I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
of what i can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare.
I’m afraid to. I’m afraid your glance
will not be followed by acceptance
and love, I’m afraid you’ll think
less of me, that you’ll laugh, and
your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing,
that I’m just no good, and that you
will see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate pretending
game, with a facade of assurance
without, and a trembling child within.
And so begins the parade of masks, the
glittering but empty parade of masks.
And my life becomes a front. I idly chatter
to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
and nothing of what’s everything, of what’s
crying within me. So when I’m going through
my routine, do not be fooled by what I’m
saying. Please listen carefully and try to
hear what I’m NOT saying, what I’d like to
be able to say, what for survival I need to
say, but can’t say.
I dislike hiding, honestly. I dislike the
superficial game I’m playing, the superficial
phony game. I’d really like to be genuine
and spontaneous, and me. but you’ve got to
help me. You’ve got to hold out your hand
even when that’s the last thing I seem to want
or need. Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness. Each time
you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you
really care, my heart begins to grow wings,
very small, very feeble, but wings.
With your sensitivity and sympathy, and your
power of understanding, you can breathe life
into me. I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator of the person
that is me if you choose to.
Please choose to. You alone can break down the
wall behind which I tremble, you alone
can remove my mask, you alone can release
me from my shadow-world of panic and
un-certainty, from my lonely prison. So do not
pass me by. Please do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you. A long conviction
of worthlessness builds strong walls; the
nearer you approach to me, the harder I may
strike back. It’s irrational, but despite
what books say about man, I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
And in this lies my hope. My only hope.
Please try to beat down those walls with
firm hands but with gentle hands.
For a child is very sensitive.
Who am I, you may wonder? I am somebody
you know very well. For I am every man
you meet and every woman you meet.
( When you can say this with your heart, pass it on. )