I married at barely past twenty, and for the next decade I functioned more or less acceptably, much like one of those dolls with a pull string on the back of her neck that makes her talk. I developed a repertoire of stock phrases and behaviors that, if they didn’t quite fit the circumstances, if they didn’t ring exactly true, were yet close enough for people to gloss over and interpret as what they wanted to hear and see.
I didn’t realize it then, but of course the mask works both ways. The smooth, resilient exterior that prevented people knowing what I mess I was inside also undoubtedly kept me from absorbing much light and love that might have been mine.
Over time, by the grace of God, the polished finish began to wear through in spots, and the pull string started fraying. Around my thirtieth birthday, I began to wake up inside, began at least to realize that I had been suffocating.