You’re a version of yourself but you’re not the same
You try to keep the wound camouflaged…
The stitches heal, but the years are lost
And another bottle on the shelf can’t numb the pain
Why’re you running from yourself now
You can’t run away…….
- San-Diego Grammy- Award winning Rock Band, Switchfoot,- Where The Light Shines Through; 2016
Jessica appeared to work two weeks ago at 9:06am, a few minutes late.
She was heavily made-up: bright lipstick, curled eyebrows, new nail paint, mascara, The Full Monty. She was smiley, unusually bouncy and chirpy.
That was unusual.
Being as nosy (I call it curiosity, but really, sometimes its just nosiness) as I normally am, I innocently commented on how nice she looked.
Her answer was completely unexpected.
‘’ I felt like crap this morning, had been crying through the night, I still feel down – I looked in the mirror and realised how bad I looked. I applied this heavy make-up to conceal my feelings’’
So, contrary to what I thought, the make-up on the surface was hiding the emotions below.
I wasn’t surprised later on when an issue upset her and she burst out crying.
The emotions that were hidden just below the surface came bubbling up at the least provocation.
She was hiding.
Late last year, I was alerted to an incident. One of the 70 substance-misuse patients we were treating, Tracey couldn’t look me in the eyes. A patient called me to one side and whispered how she had seen her shoplifting.
I called her into a private room with the door open and a female chaperone and asked whether she had stolen anything. She denied on her mothers life.
I asked her to empty her pockets.
To take off her outer winter coat.
Then, by a pure stroke of luck, I noticed a bulge in her track suit.
I pointed and asked her to take out whatever was causing the bulge out.
Lo and behold, a hair dye set set fell out.
That’s what she was hiding.
Instant ban. I waved her a permanent good-bye from the premises.
But it wasn’t just Tracey.
Last month was a month of high-profile reveals of celebrities that were hiding something.
Philip Schofield, ITV presenter was hiding an affair.
Elizabeth Holmes, CEO and founder of Theranos, finally went to prison for hiding fake machines that falsely purpoted to give wide-ranging blood test results.
The Economist, a newspaper and the BBC allegedly found evidence that the President-elect of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu hid behind flawed and rigged elections to ‘win’ the Nigeria Presidential Election.
And closer to home, I congratulated a friend for a wonderful week of a holiday she had had with her friends and family. That’s what the pictures showed on social media.
She immediately burst into tears. She had had an absolutely rotten time. The pictures hid the reality.
I hid a whole lot of stuff -as I detailed in my book Pay The Price until my whole world almost came crashing down.
Diversity expert, entrepreneur and coach Liliane Uwimana explained to me the concept of the Frozen Frame.
In videos, the frozen frame is an expression used where a film or video is stopped (‘frozen’) whilst still playing.
I have come across many frozen frames in real life. Like Jessica’s make up.
The leader that appears to be listening to the pain of racism, Islamophobia or homophobia her employees are facing, but her own biases blind her to their pain. Frozen Frame.
The fake smile on the look of some influencers in their pictures on socials. I swear sometimes I can see the sad eyes behind their white teeth. Frozen Frame.
The coach who appears to understand and empathize with her clients issues, but stands ready with a prescribed formula from her training. Frozen Frame.
The leader and parent who is running frantically from pillar to post, from party to pulpit, from house to mouse. She’s running but can’t escape the pain. She’s stuck in Frozen Frame.
I’ve noticed that even the frozen frame concept extends to some of us that appear to be ‘vulnerable’ and tend to ‘overshare’ are trying to gain a semblance of authenticity are hiding something.
By oversharing, they hope to elicit sympathy, when then soothes their insecurity. I’ve had to catch myself nowadays not to fall into that trap. A trap to which I am highly susceptible.
So enough of the diagnosis. What’s the remedy?
I’ve found four things helpful to help me reduce and eliminate what I’ve been hiding:
Journalling: A brilliant therapy for me. Once those verbal demons disentangle from my head onto a piece of paper, they cease to exist.
Coaching/Counselling: I started this. It was hard. Really hard. But extremely necessary. The right coach can really unlock things that have been hidden so long, we forgot where we put them.
A sounding board/Confidant: My friend Brian has been invaluable. During the dark days, I couldn’t have done without him.
Strategies to accept and be kind and loving to yourself. I am finding that the more comfortable I grow in my own skin, the more I begin to like myself with all my imperfections, the more I begin to care less about what people think, the less I have to hide. And paradoxically, the more caring I become of other people.
So, what are you hiding?
1. I attended the first ever joint Midlands Economic Summit yesterday hosted by