By | 2014-04-18T07:00:26+00:00 April 18th, 2014|Healing, Trauma|0 Comments

In the middle of a family Christmas party, my sister-in-law saw through the mask.Unmasked - Sarah Brassard

I had created the perfect scene, all the decorations inside and out looked like a page from Martha Stewart’s Christmas issue. Presents were under the tree and the dinner wafted tantalizing aromas from the oven. The party was humming along when she came up to me and asked a simple question: “Sarah, is everything alright? You look so sad.”

Who knew that my world was so fragile that a loving inquiry like that could make me feel like I needed to be admitted to the psych ward? But it really did. I felt like my world had been blown apart. My cover had been revealed. What in this beautiful picture would give her the idea that I was unhappy?

In reality, her question was the one I had been longing for someone to ask for 20 years. Finally, I got launched on the trajectory towards healing from PTSD.

Here’s the truth: at age 13, the happy family I had for the first part of my life disappeared. I remember from my journals, that one day life was perfect, and the next it was gone. In the midst of sickness, secrets and betrayal, life changed forever. My mother having already lost a husband, could not endure another husband’s critical sickness, so she left our family, and 3 years later, my father died of cancer.

I never healed from the shame and loss of my childhood family, and with each passing moment I moved further and further away from that tender part of myself that was longing for healing. My go-to survival technique was to make the world believe that I was not affected by what had happened to my family. I did the best I could. I thought I was living authentically, when really I was living life as a character inside someone else’s play.

I didn’t know I was in trouble because I had gotten so good at pretending, making everything look so good from the outside that I even fooled myself. I had forgotten what it was like to really be me. The mask had become me. And I realized that, whether they admitted it or not, the people around me could see the cracks in my facade. My loved ones started to detect that inside of this perfect business woman, wife and mother, there was a fragile child holding on for dear life.

After I faced the honest response to my sister-in-law’s question, I made a decision to look at what was vulnerable in me. I mustered up the strength to turned towards that which scared me most. I knew I had to face the suffering I had been hiding from for so long. I denied trauma the power it had commanded for so long. I cultivated ways of being that were opposite to the reactionary, helpless, devalued beliefs I’d adopted as an abandoned child. And here’s the beautiful thing: the path to healing lit up in front of me, one step at a time. Now, I look back on the years of pain and confusion, and I know those were just landmarks on my journey to happiness.

I know what it is to shut down. I have felt that disconnection, trapped in loneliness. I have retreated, pretended, numbed and felt the shame this path was giving me. I have built armor around my broken heart, slowly getting crushed by the weight of the metal.

Then I made a decision to place a stake in the ground that announced, “I will show up for my life and not waste one more second in blame or victimhood.” I met my sadness and fear head-on instead of running from it. Upon making that decision, everything changed, the suffering surrendered and transformed in to the greatest guru of my life, teachers appeared, old worn out friendships dissolved, and life appeared with meaning and truth once again.

It’s occurred to me that learning to love and accept all of me is a far more truthful and kinder way to live my life than hiding behind a mask of pretending.

About the Author:

Sarah Brassard’s passion lies in teaching people how to create a foundation for self-care, a method of wellness that brings profound opportunities for transformation. She is the author of Inside: A Guide to the Resources Within to Stay Vibrant and Alive Through All Life’s Challenges. The book details the self-care practices and protocols that sparked her healing journey and that she has been sharing with students and clients for the past fifteen years.

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  1. Eric April 18, 2014 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    Such a beautiful and heartbreaking moment to reflect upon. I think everyone has put together the perfect outfit, the right hairdo with the hope that ‘out there’ the vulnerabilities shrouded by the carefully curated look will remain in hiding. I’ve always found that it’s the person you least expect to see right through it all that blows the doors off the thing.

    • Sarah Brassard April 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      This is so true. I have been astonished in my life how many people I have met that have put together the most perfect facade only to expose later that they were actually crumbling inside.

  2. Lisa Caulfield April 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Agree. There was always just a small something there my friend. I never knew. Now its clear. I am so happy that you have accomplished what you have and have come to terms with what you had no control over. I have admired you for you since the day I met you Sarah. Thank you for your honesty my friend ♥

  3. Sarah Brassard April 30, 2014 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I know, sometimes we know there is something going on for someone we love but until that person is ready to get in touch with what it is, there really isn’t anything we can do except love them unconditionally. Thanks for loving me through my process, Lisa.

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