by Kenneth Justice
~ Last week at coffee I ran into an older gentleman who has become a somewhat regular reader of my blog this past year, “Kenneth, I really enjoy reading your articles but I feel that you keep quite a guard up regarding your personal life….have you ever thought about writing more openly and intimately about your personal life?” he asked.
For those who are regular readers of mine, you know that I’m not a big fan of ‘wearing masks’ i.e. putting on a fake face when your at work, at church, or wherever…and trying to be someone other than who you really are. People tend to ‘put on masks’ in order to try and impress others;
—-) People put on masks to make others think their lives are perfect
—-) People put on masks to try to mask emotional pain that they don’t want to face
—-) People put on masks to hide the scars from their past
Thus, on many different levels putting on a mask is a way to deceive others; to make others think that you are someone else other than who you really are……..and it would seem to me that if you’re wearing a mask to deceive others than you may want to consider reevaluating your priorities in life.
However, not all instances of ‘wearing a mask’ are necessarily bad………
During my first month of working as a substance abuse counselor a couple years ago I had a client who would come to my group counseling session twice a week and would never talk. He didn’t want to be there but was court mandated to be in my group session. It was around the 9th or 10th session that he finally opened up and it was then that he shared the story of his life long addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine and his most recent crime that had landed him in prison; he had tried killing his wife by stabbing her five times in the chest. After sharing his story in the group he asked to meet with me in a private session where he expounded on the story and asked me quite seriously, “Kenneth, what I’m here to ask you is how you think I can get back together with my wife after what I have done?”
Of course, this was a difficult position I was in because if the wife was sitting across from me privately I would of probably told her to run as far away from this guy as she could; don’t let back in your house a guy who stabbed you five times! However, because of my role as his counselor I didn’t believe it was any of my business to defuse this guy’s attempt at reconnecting his wife; the final path I chose was to gently change the conversation away from his wife and back to his own problem of chemical addiction.
Working as a counselor forced me to wear masks; I had to often suppress what I really wanted to say to someone.…and instead listen to them or tell them what was ‘best’ for them to hear. In a way; because I couldn’t simply tell my clients what my opinion was on every single issue in their life…….there were many times that they weren’t really seeing my true self.
On the same token, because I was often working with people who had dangerous past lives; I also had to suppress many details of my private life. There was no way I could ever open up in such a way that could lead these people to being able to find out where I lived, worked, or hung out….because my highest priority was to protect all of my friends, family and loved ones.
I recall one evening that I ran into an ex-client of mine from the jail I used to work at…..I was hanging out downtown and felt someone tapping me on the shoulder. “Kenneth!” the stranger exclaimed. And although I didn’t recognize him I had a good idea that he was likely one of the ex-inmates from the jail, “I just wanted to thank you for all that you did for me, I’ve been clean for two years now” he said. Thankfully, that incident turned out okay, but for a singular moment I was a bit concerned due to how that situation could of turned out for the worse.
Thus, as I sat there with the older gentleman at coffee I explained to him many of the things I’ve written here today, “When it comes to my close friends I’m actually an open book. There’s really nothing I hide….but due to the nature of writing articles to so many people that I’ve never met and have no idea what they are like……out of safety I have to keep certain details of my life private”
Yet even though I keep the details of my private life off the table…….I nonetheless strive to write as openly and honestly as I can.
.We live in a strange new era….
—-) Through Facebook people share some of the most personal elements of their lives
—-) Through Twitter some people give a 24/7 constant streaming update of what they are doing at the moment
—-) Through Instagram people post pictures of themselves naked
We live in an era where personal lives are right out in the open. People even post videos of themselves on the Internet having sex with their significant others for the entire world to see.
And while I want to be careful not to criticize or condemn anyone who chooses to do those things……I guess I simply want to explain that I’m still a little bit old fashioned when it comes to sharing the intimate details of my personal life. What I’m trying to say is that you won’t see any naked pictures of me on the Internet any time soon….
I really need another coffee,
p.s. if you are on the Internet New Years Day stop back by and check out my announcement for the New Year 🙂
Categories: Culture & Society