I have made this second part of “The Mask” another posting in the “Mary Elizabeth Reveals” series because I know that only by sharing some of the deeper realities of my life’s journey can I hope to impact others, in a meaningful way, on their journeys. I had previously revealed the emotional wounds I had sustained during puberty. (See Mary Elizabeth Reveals – Part One.)
When I was nine years of age, my mother and father separated and my mother moved to another state to be near her sister for support. She took my brother and me with her. When I was ten, my parents reconciled, and a year later my younger sister was born of that reunion.
When I was 10 or 11, I remember telling my mother that if my life was going to be as it was – for the rest of my life – that I did not want to live. Those unusual feelings had little to do with my parents’ marital problems. I remember realizing that I felt the way I did because of the way my mind viewed reality. I have a strong affinity for John Lennon. Recently, having purchased a limited edition print of Lennon’s artwork, I read these words by Lennon: “In one way, I was hip. I was hip in kindergarten – I was different from the others . . . there was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things people didn’t see. I always saw things in a hallucinatory way.” So it was with me; I knew that I saw reality abstractly, and that I did not connect with my peers in ways that were fundamental to them. That isolation from others was painful for me during my formative years. Unlike Lennon, I did not think of myself as “hip” because of it, only different. Fortunately, with enlightened self-awareness, I have learned to live contentedly within my own skin, embracing my abstract way of seeing the world. And, I have been blessed because – through the gifts of autonomy and insight – I have been able to will myself into seeing the world with pragmatic eyes, also. Thus, I have become a grateful survivor, and one who acknowledges that I have been blessed, by God’s grace, to overcome what, otherwise, could have been crushing brokenness.
So, given a rather sad beginning, combined with an innately serious, socially shy, academic nature, and a tenuous female development which caused insecurity as a budding woman, I was rarely asked for dates in high school. Thus, my adolescent years were also painful ones, but my essential life force and hope for my future, led me to summer stock in Connecticut, where I decided to alter my fate and present another self to the world. I created a mask for Mary Elizabeth. I showed a vivacious, energetic, friendly, and outgoing 18 year old to others that summer – that was my mask. And, I did fall in love with an intelligent and sensitive 24 year old apprentice/actor who wanted to be a writer. Two years later, the young man would become my first husband, and lifelong friend. We saw the world through similar eyes – the artist’s vision – so that, finally, I did not feel so alone. I had found a kindred spirit. Neither of us was interested in the ordinary pursuits of young adulthood; we were both seeking higher consciousness, even at that young age. The Bohemian set of NYC’s East Village was where we grew together, and then we grew apart. The person beneath my mask was emerging, as invariably will happen when masks hide greater realities. There were deeper problems, also, but we were wise enough to know, despite our youth, that neither should be blamed for those difficulties. So, we legally divorced, even while knowing that we would remain spiritual friends forever, and have – even beyond his death in 2006.
After almost a decade of being single, I had developed – even without fully realizing it, a second mask – that of the young, independent thirty-something woman who, with my slim body and long blond hair, cast a wholesome, sexy image. I was an excellent teacher and enjoyed my work, but I knew that I wanted a husband, a home, and a child of my own. At thirty-five, I met my second husband and he was intrigued by my image, and by the fact that I had lived in New York City. He had grown up on Long Island, after his family had migrated from France. He was thirty-one and had also been married and divorced, without children, and he, too, wanted a home. As a charming and handsome French immigrant, he appealed to me. We met in 1978, around St. Patrick’s Day, and married the next year. A little over two years after we were married, our daughter was born. I was 39 years old, and we three became “Les Trois” until his death of a major stroke, 29 years after we had met. We had shared the heart of life together, my good husband and myself, and I shall always love him and honor his name for that great gift.
I was blessed, by grace, in that the two men dearest in my life (besides my father and brother) had given me what I had most desired of life – beneath my masks. My first husband helped me leave my provincial roots and live in a more liberal, artistic setting, where I grew intellectually in ways common to my innate thinking, which I was hungry to experience. My second husband – God bless his soul – gave me what I had most wanted from life – and felt I might never have, given my adolescent female problems: our daughter – the joy of our lives – as well as a family life, and a lovely home in which to grow old, a home that nourishes my soul every day with sweet memories, even four years after his death.
Others that enter relationships based on masks may not fare as well as I did. Relationships are always changing because people will change, in time. Only that North Star, who is God, will not change. To have the best chance for lasting happiness in a love relationship, it seems to me, you must first know yourself in depth, trust that self completely, be true to that self, and be in the world who you really are – without a mask. Then, if the fates so bless your life, another on the planet, who is also without a mask, will connect with you in ways fundamental to your being. That love will be a lasting one. If you are so blessed to find the person with whom you connect that deeply, neither time – nor death itself – will alter that love.
My experience has been that any type of love one has on Earth will continue indefinitely, beyond death and time. According to Rollo May as he described in his book, “Love and Will,” pages 37 and 38, there are four types of love. Only one of the four types is romantic love. Even if you are not blessed to find the one who is meant for you romantically, by finding and being true to your inner self, you will be able to express the love in your heart in many ways while you inhabit the Earth. Those ways, too, can bless your life and nourish your spirit, as well as the spirits of others, and perhaps even more profoundly than romantic love could have done, alone. Trust and be grateful to God for whatever your destiny might be. But, first, find and be in the world who you inherently are, without a mask, in order to reach the depths of your being.
The person who made the video below, and who calls herself Mazay83, sings beautifully the song, “Hi-Lili Hi-Lo,” from the movie “Lili,” made in 1953, which stars Mel Ferrer and Leslie Caron. The love in her heart emanates from her voice as she shares her singing gift with us. Mel Ferrer’s character, Paul the Puppeteer, has a deformity in his leg so that now, in his bitterness, he hides behind the masks of his puppets. A part of his spirit, though, embodies each puppet – even the female puppet. Lili loves all the puppets, but it is only later that she realizes it is Paul, the person behind the masks of each puppet, whom she really loves. She had been infatuated with the more flamboyant Marc, the Magician. Paul loves Lili, too, but not until Lili grows to maturiy and realizes who she loves authentically – beneath all masks – can Paul express his love for her.
Enjoy the video, below. I first saw “Lili,” with my father, when I was 11 years old. I loved the movie then, and I still love it today. My innate spirit is eternal, as is yours.