The Mask I Wear Is Bedazzled

Brandon Slesser
Change Your Mind Change Your Life
6 min readMay 21, 2024

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Photo by Llanydd Lloyd on Unsplash

When I close my eyes I imagine a life beyond what I have. I dream of far off places of myth and magic. Where science meets fantasy and wishing upon a star is just a normal Tuesday night tradition. I imagine that I have gifts beyond the mundane and abilities that melt beyond the physical world. In my mind I can make everything I want a possibility. Then I open my eyes.

Nothing has changed.

I’m still in the same body I was born with. Still surrounded by horrors of my past and new ones of my present. I am reminded that the world I created in my mind; my secret world is only a figment of my ever growing and expanding imagination. Still I close my eyes and go to that place. A place beyond the walls of the natural order. Beyond the bindings of mortality and into a world that is my own. A world that I fit into without blemish.

Photo by Josie Weiss on Unsplash

My world is nothing more than a fever dream.

One pill down and twenty-nine more to go. That’s what tell myself when I open that little orange bottle and silence my mind. One more pill to quiet the rush of the cacophony of thoughts that rampage through the fabric of my mind. Day by day I slip into an irreversible madness. I open the pill bottle again. Time to quiet. Time to cage the birds and wild beast that make up the tissue in my skull.

One pill, two pill, three pill…high.

What a relief. What a wonderful sensation. My mind is still and silent. The monsters are suspended into the shadows. They are hidden behind a veil coaxed by a milligram of medication. The symphony of thoughts are conducted by a maestro, producing music that calms the chaos behind my hazel eyes.

I can breathe now.

Photo by Altin Ferreira on Unsplash

I smile but it is just a piece of the mask that I wear.

The reflection I see in the mirror isn’t one that I recognize. It isn’t one that I know. It’s a different man from who I saw before. In the mirror is a man who has gone to battle, who has faced an army of devils hungry to drag him to the depths of the abyss.

The horrors that haunt that reflection is a reminder of the unknown that has been placed before me. The skin that I once felt, it was soft. Desired by many. Touched by many.

My vanity is my greatest enemy.

Such a misleading smile. Such an easy lie to tell. Whispers of my own voice echo in my ears. Simple words of encouragement and uplighting vows that I have given to the man I look at in the mirror. Each syllable is an orchestra of untruths. Lies that I tell myself. Affirmations guided by a man who pretends to be more.

I am more. I am more. I am more.

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Embracing my mortality is welcoming my humanity.

“Don’t worry, it will grow back.” Words that are on repeat. Words that are spoken from the souls who are not tormented by ghouls. Simple letters placed together to create menagerie of words spoken freely from lips whose are not my own.

They didn’t witness it. They didn’t see the unhinged emotions spilling out.

Clump by clump parts of me fell on my shoulders and stuck between my fingers. Clump by clump was washed away by the pressure of water as it streamed down by frail naked body. The body that was not my own. The body that belonged to a creature from another world.

It was my body. It was me.

I fell to my knees as the steady steaming water flowed over my skin. I cupped my face in my hands and fell into the abyss of my mind. I wanted to be anyone else. I wanted to be anywhere else. I wanted to go back to that dreamscape I had created and away from the nightmare that had engulfed my life. Piece by piece I was being chipped away. I held the hammer and nail in my hands.

Clink. Clink. Clink.

More of me fell away. An anger echoed through me. A resentment of those around me consumed me. A hideous hate resonated inside me. I raise a closed fist and beat in the walls. The screams leaving my body echoed from my diaphragm. I despised everything. I despised everyone. Still though, in the grip of the hatred flowing through my veins, a fire was igniting inside me. I lit it and watched it burn.

I refused to give up. I refused to die like this.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

The Mask I Wear Is Bedazzled

Hiding is a way of coping. It is a way of preventing the pain from surfacing. If I hide the pain then I can make them believe. I can make everyone believe. I tried to make me believe. I succeeded until I couldn’t lie anymore.

It’s okay not to be okay. I’m not okay. I’m not alright.

Trauma is a many faced shapeless creeping nightmare. It feeds on the pain stewing in the soul. It slurps up the agony and the hurt that pulsates behind each blood pumped heartbeat. Pills can not quell it nor can speaking out against it. For trauma to be tamed, to be killed and buried in a nameless grave is to embrace it.

Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

Embracing the pain feeds the ethereal fire in the soul.

Though I wear a mask to hide my feelings, to hide the truth from others and myself, I still aim to reclaim the life that was stolen from me. Rebuking the venom that is snaking under my skin. Even in the misery that I feel I find strength to endure.

I am not ashamed by my mask. I bedazzle it.

Though the pain I face and the hurt that I have learned to accept is encompassing, there is still a sense of hope. The warrior I have become has given me strength. Each day I put on my mask. Each day I hid behind it to survive. Even though I wear a mask, there’s not a reason I can’t make my mask reflect the hope I have within me. THE MASK I WEAR IS BEDAZZLED with jewels and sequins. Shimmering as rays of light reflect off it. The trauma that has clouded over me will never dull the shine of the mask that I wear. My warrior helmet. My grace.

Photo by Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández on Unsplash

The day will come when I can remove my mask. Until then, I will smile pretty for the camera.

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Brandon Slesser
Change Your Mind Change Your Life

Free spirited, open minded, hopeless romantic, a little stubborn, and an avid thinker.