Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Mask

The Mask

By: Rose Barbour

After another sleepless night
Filled with worry and regret
She has to start her day
My God, is it over yet?

She gets out of the shower
Leaves her face bare
She doesn’t have the energy
To even style her hair.

She runs a brush through
Pulls it up off her face
Life is so damn hard
She wants out of this place.

She is ready to go
“Where is it?” she asks
Oh, there it is
Her happy mask.

It has become a part of her
An essential piece
She doesn’t leave home without it
Oh, the secrets that it keeps.

It hides her devastation
The sadness in her eyes
It makes her look happy
It stifles her cries.

The mask throws them off
With its smile so sincere
No one seems to notice
That she is barely there.

She suffers in silence
Behind the smiling mask
She wants to be left alone
That’s all she asks.

In a moment of weakness
A wayward tear falls
The mask is cracking
She’s going to lose it all.

Her friend comes over
Are you okay?
She can’t tell her the truth
There’s no way.

She won’t understand
The pain of an addicted child
She won’t understand
How her life’s gone wild.

How she cries herself
To sleep each night
Dwelling on a life
That just isn’t right.

She doesn’t even know
Where her child is
He could be dead
How do you explain this?

She tries to say
I’m fine, I’m okay
But her friend insists
And she won’t go away.

She decides to open up
She takes off her mask
Her friend listens intently
Right to the very last.

As she sobs with grief
Her friend takes her hand
Removes her own mask
And says “I understand”

Written by: Rose Barbour


  1. Oh, Rose, you described perfectly how I got through the last couple of years. It's been so hard and lonely. People probably wonder why I never mention my children. This time of year is the worst as graduation time approaches. I just dread being asked if my child is going to graduate. Thanks for being such an advocate, Rose. Hope someday we can all take our masks off.

    1. I completely understand. Graduation is hard and so are holidays. People just don't understand unless they've been through it. I haven't worn my mask in a couple of years. My smile is real now. It took work, but you can get there too. If you find support for yourself, it will make a huge difference. You will begin to heal and get your smile back (whether your child is in active addiction or not). xo

  2. Lori Stelter-Buege23 June 2014 at 21:34

    Oh my gosh - I just read The Mask and I am sitting here crying. You have described my life, as well as many others, perfectly. It is very lonely and sadly there are very few (one in my life) friends, family or co-workers who even know I'm wearing a "mask" and that I'm going though something I might want to talk about with others, but am unable to do so. Beautiful writing!!

    1. I wore a mask for years, Lori. I have long ago gotten rid of it and it feels great. I came to see that there were many people around me wearing masks too. When I started sharing my story, they began to share theirs. We are definitely not alone, though it certainly feels like it sometimes to those who are still carrying the secret. xo


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