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In 2020 face masks became one of the most topics of discussions or arguments. We were told to wear them to protect others from spreading COVID-19. It is 2022 and face masks are still today a topic of discussion and those who choose to wear them do and those who do not don´t.

What about face masks we wear continually without even recognizing it? Do you look in the mirror and find yourself not relating to what you see looking back at you? I went on a recent trip for self care and I recall washing my face and removing the makeup on my face. I wiped off one side of my face and saw my pale skin, tired eyes and acne show versus the face that was made up with foundation, toner, concealer, bronzer, lashes, eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara. I realized how I related with this two face individual. She reflected the mask I wore versus the person I am.

The day after the Christmas holiday I had a mental anxiety breakdown that I admit was unsafe for myself. I sought out assistance from my therapist, physicians, and even friends. All of which in common stated words to me that I refused to acknowledge.....BURNOUT!

I was physically, mentally and emotionally burntout. There was literally nothing left of me except running to do harm and disappear into another world.

How did I get here?

I was diagnosed with gastric cancer stage 2b in Dec. of 2020. I was more concerned about my business and friends than my diagnosis. When it became understanding of what treatment regimes I would endure. I recall losing a very good friend because I did not feel comfortable committing to things she desired to do as I did not know what my future held.

It was after that blow that I chose to focus on ensuring I did not appear weak to anyone for any reason. I found myself pushing myself through treatments, to come home and continue to build and work on projects, managing my daughters mental health issues, and maintaining my full time job. I was in continual pain, chronic fatigue and nausea but I still ensured the mask I wore was worn.

I would schedule classes, shows, installs, builds daily, after work and around soccer practices. I was told by many friends to take it easy, or take a break.

When my marriage hit the fan and I exposed years of unhappiness, I realized how much I was forcing the mask on at this point. I would still force it on, and proceed on as if all was well but inside I was slowly chipping away.

So back to after Christmas, my best friend Miki heard my breakdowns and agreed I needed a break and insisted to watch my Tia while I could relax. Forever grateful, and very scared I decided it was time to peel this mask off and reveal my vulnerabilities. Below is the video of my trip, and virtual journaling. I took the time to journal, to cry, to scream, dance and sleep.

I shut down my business, and limited myself to only making things I WANTED to make as therapy. I allowed myself to enjoy scaling back my To Do Lists and saying ¨no¨ is acceptable.

I am learning to say no

I am learning to say ¨I am not okay.¨

I am learning to set boundaries

I am learning to pray and trust more

I am learning to keep the that particular mask at home.

I am learning to find self care is important

I am learning new friendships matter

I am learning my value and worth

I appreciate all friends who assisted me in the last month, who have taken the coffee dates with me, who have laughed with me, cried with me, prayed with me and even drove all the way over to ensure I felt loved. 2022 will see the real me.

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