Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the mask 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 second nature with me,
but I beg you, don't be fooled.
I give the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny, unruffled,
that confidence is my name
and coolness is my game
and I need no one.

But don't believe, please don't!
My surface is my mask.
Beneath is the real me,
in my confusion,
in my fear,
in loneliness.
But I hide this,
I don't want anybody to know it.

I panic at the thought of my weakness
and of being rejected.
That's why I frantically create
a mask to hide behind.
To help me pretend,
to shield from the glance that knows!
If that glance is followed by acceptance,
if it is followed by love, it will save me.

It's the only thing that will assure me
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 love and acceptance.

I'm afraid you will think less of me
that you will laugh at me
and your laugh will kill me.
I'm afraid deep down inside I'm nothing,
I'm just no good,
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play games.
My desperate pretending games,
with assurances on the outside
and a trembling child within.
And so begins the parade of masks
and my life becomes a front.

I idly chatter with you
and tell you nothing of what hurts me inside.
Please listen carefully
and try to hear what I'm not saying.
Those things I need to say but cannot.
I dislike the hiding, honestly I do.
I dislike the superficial, phony games I'm playing.

I'd really like to be genuine, spontaneous and me
but I need your help.
You can help me by holding out your hand,
even when that's the last thing I seem to want or need.
For each time you are kind or gentle and encouraging,
each time you try to understand
because you really care about me,
my heart begins to grow wings!
Very feeble wings but wings!

With your sensitivity,
empathy and understanding I can make it.
You breathe life into me.
I want you to know how important you are to me.
Only you can wipe away from the eyes
the blank stares of the breathing dead.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I hide.
You alone can remove the mask.
You alone can release me
from my lonely prison of panic and uncertainty.

Please do not pass me by.
Please try to beat down my wall with firm hands,
but be gentle -- for inside
I am a very sensitive and frightened child.
Who am I... you may wonder?
I'm someone you know very well
For I am ...................

Every Man!
Every Woman!
Every Child!

Hear what I'm not saying
by  Charles C. Finn
September 1966

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