DON’T BE FOOLED BY ME: You all may have read... - AF Association

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jeanjeannie50 profile image

You all may have read this before, but a post on the BHF site has prompted me to put it here. So true.


“Don’t be fooled by me.

Don’t be fooled by the face that I wear

For I wear a thousand masks, masks that I’m afraid to take off, and none of them are me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me, but don’t be fooled, for god’s sake don’t be fooled.

I give the impression that I’m secure,

that all is sunny and unruffled with me,

within as well as without;

that confidence is my name and coolness my game;

and that I need no one.

But don’t believe me. Please.


My surface may seem smooth, but my surface is my mask.

Beneath this lies no complacence.

Beneath dwells the real me in confusion, in fear and aloneness.

But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.

I panic at the thought of my weakness and fear of being exposed.

That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,

a nonchalant, sophisticated facade;

to help me pretend, to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation. My only salvation and I know it.

That is if it’s followed by acceptance, if it’s followed by love.

It’s the only thing that will assure me of what I can’t assure myself - that I am worth something.


But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare. I’m afraid to.

I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance and love.

I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh at me and your laugh would kill me.

I’m afraid that deep down I’m nothing, that I’m no good

and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate game,

with a façade of assurance without, and a trembling child within.

So begins the parade of masks. And my life becomes a front.

Who am I, you may wonder. I am someone you know very well.

For I am every man you meet and I am every woman you meet”.

75 Replies

That's me since I've been alone, pretending all is well 😕

Jay10 profile image
Jay10 in reply to bantam12

Me also since my husband died 4 years ago from Prostate cancer. I wear my happy face so my family think all is well.

bantam12 profile image
bantam12 in reply to Jay10

My husband died 14 months ago after heart surgery, not easy putting on a happy face but it's what we must do.

Jay10 and bantam12 , I can't bear to think how distressing it must be to lose your lifelong partner. I guess if the mask of happiness wasn't worn a few months after, then family would become overly concerned and friends possibly turn away to leave you to grieve in private. Perhaps putting a mask on is nature's way of helping ourselves overcome the sadness. Xxx

I'm amazed how many so his called friends never even got in touch after I told them, I'm not really bothered just find it odd how fast they dropped me, oh well less Christmas cards to send 😆I

Ive found the only person to truly understand what it's like to lose a partner and all the hassle that goes with it is Coroners Officer appointed to our case, she's been amazing and I can call her anytime about virtually anything, and yes nearly 18 months on we are still waiting for the inquest, doesn't look likely for this year either !

I think some men may have difficulty in coping with others emotions, especially those of ladies. Some are not good with words of comfort, they see that as being weak and that's not comfortable for them. They could of course be too upset and shocked by the news. I believe men process things more in their heads than speak or do anything about it.

I can assure you they will all have been saddened by his death.

I don't cope too well with the news of death either, for some people me included it brings back the dreadful pain of someone we've lost. For me the tragic accident that killed my brother at a young age. I still find it difficult to talk about. We know how the person who has lost a partner, friend or relative is feeling and it's almost too much to bear. When my sisters husband died, I could sit in her house and cry with her, but it wouldn't be acceptable for me to cry in the street with anyone, which I would want to do because I feel their pain. There they are putting on a bold front, they don't want me there blubbering.

That's why some people pretend they haven't seen you, they feel your pain too intensely.

As a bereaved person, what would you like people to do who find your pain too much to bear. Send a card, letter or something like that? I guess it may be to just to acknowledge your situation? Life and people are strange. xxx

I'm not one for sitting round crying, none of my family are and I don't expect anyone else to do it either, with my husbands very long history of health problems and near misses it's something we had lived with for over 30 years but for the surgery ( which was a choice) to be the cause and the hospital to mess up was not the best way to go.

I did have some nice letters and cards from my friends, I didn't need or expect them but nice to get them anyway, however I'm surprised that some (2 different lots) friends we had known for 35 years have not uttered a peep, one is a palliative care nurse ! but it's fine as I'm unlikely to see them ever again so won't lose sleep over it !

Have to admit that losing one of my many animals is most upsetting to me and I dread the day when my favourite (oops shouldn't say that) dog has to depart this world, don't know what I will do without him 😕

Anyway must now put my happy face on and get on with the day 😊

😊 Me too, have a good day.

TamlaMotown profile image
TamlaMotown in reply to bantam12

Hi bantam, just lost my beautiful Golden Retriever Molly in April. Only a dog lover would get the hurt it causes. Every bit as bad as losing a family member because that’s what she was. Miss her so much 🥺

bantam12 profile image
bantam12 in reply to TamlaMotown

Ahhh I'm so sorry to hear that, it's the worst experience losing a pet. My daughter is a vet and despite it being her job she gets so upset with that part of it, when one of her horses had to go she was absolutely distraught.I hope you feel better soon but we never forget them, safe journey Molly 💕

Thats all of us if we are honest with ourselves. If we think not then we are only trying to fool ourselves.

As my beautiful now long gone clinical psychologist tutor and friend told me when i was studying under his guidance and felt i was faltering. It takes true self awareness and courage to admit such as this and therein lies our real strength, as knowing and accepting it is true honesty and should be worn with pride. Alas many people don't have such personal insight or are unwilling or afraid to admit it even to themselves,

Thanks for posting this Jean.

You know, I was thinking even we ladies putting make up on is mask wearing. It makes us look better than we really are and I guess we assume people may like us more. It's a strange old world where people are judged by how attractive they look. Young people crave to look like models or TV stars. I guess body building is another mask too. So it's not only smiling faces and acting the happy, fun-filled person, it's far deeper. Xxx

Very thought provoking that Jean. xx

I think that is a measure of how much you actually care what other people think about you. I have found as I age I care less and less. I have not worn make up for ten years and then only stage make up for performances and a little eye make up for teaching my classes. I stopped dying my hair 12 years ago . I only wear comfortable clothes and shoes. My sister on the other hand has worn a full face make up all her adult life , spends a fortune at the hairdressers, will not leave the house without her lippy and fell badly hurting her face and ankle tottering about in high heels on News Years Eve a couple of years ago. She is also far more assiduous in the housework department than I am! She thinks I have " let myself go". I retort that cosmetics are full of noxious chemicals and I don't care about having grey hair and have better things to do with my time than clean the house. But the bottom line is that she cares about what people think of her and I don't! I agree with you about men finding it hard to give emotional comfort. They want to find solutions and often feel bad if they can't but some problems have none.

bantam12 profile image
bantam12 in reply to Auriculaire

I don't think wearing makeup is necessarily about what other people think of us. I don't usually bother with it if I'm staying home or just walking the dogs but I always put a bit on if I'm out and about, but it's for my benefit not other people, I just feel better with a bit of slap on.I

I do like a tidy house and with just me here now it's easier to keep it that way although 2 dogs and 4 cats try their best to mess things up !

I have a friend who has given up caring and it's quite sad how much she's changed and not for the better but each to their own, we all have to do what's right for us 😉

Auriculaire profile image
Auriculaire in reply to bantam12

It is a question of what you care about I think. I care passionately about my garden - it is far more "manicured" than either me or my house. I enjoy reading a lot. What I find annoying is the assumption of people like my sister that their ideas of how one should be are the correct ones. As if somehow having a messy or dirty house was a moral failing. As if being plain and unmade up was something to denigrate .It does not seem to occur to them that using lots of cleaning products or electricity for vaccuuming or washing machines could be problematical. I too like a tidy house. But I prefer a tidy garden and lots of time to read and relax in it. I am not prepared to knock myself out to have something which is low on my scale of priorities in order to conform to societal values . As for make up my sister puts hers on every day whether going out or not . I have very rarely seen her without it. But I see it as a lack of inner confidence on her part. It also made me cross when she used to complain about lack of money . She buys expensive face cream and cosmetics and spends money at the hairdresser and beautician. Nor would she dream of buying clothes in charity shops like I do. Now she has inherited massively from our stepfather she does not complain any more !

bantam12 profile image
bantam12 in reply to Auriculaire

My animals and garden are also top of my priority list and my house is not a show home, I don't fret if there's mud on the floor but having seen my friends life go downhill since dropping out for want of a better phrase and she's now living a fairly reclusive life in a far from comfortable home and not giving a toss what others think it is concerning how easy it is to slip into that way of thinking and living. Yes we should all live life as we want to and respect those who choose differently, in another 10 years who knows I might be that crazy old lady living in the scruffy cottage up the lane 😆

Auriculaire profile image
Auriculaire in reply to bantam12

Is your friend happy? Surely that is the crucial thing.

bantam12 profile image
bantam12 in reply to Auriculaire

No she isn't, she puts on the vaguely happy face for others but I see the real her, a very sad existence and can only get worse.

Auriculaire profile image
Auriculaire in reply to bantam12

Perhaps she is suffering from depression and needs professional advice / counselling. For many years one of my sisters in law suffered with extreme hoarding. She rejected all suggestions for dealing with the problem and refused to let family enter her house. She lied saying she was taking things to the dump or charity shops when actually accumulating more. It was impossible to help her as even broaching the subject of her problem was rejected. She was found dead by the police in her house and we have never really had a satisfactory answer as to how she died.

bantam12 profile image
bantam12 in reply to Auriculaire

She has a history of depression but would never ever go for help. She's the opposite of a hoarder, she's cleared the house and just lives in 2 rooms, cleared the garden of everything but grass, it's huge plus an orchard and not a tree or flower in sight but as she never goes out it doesn't bother her ! She is what she is and nothing will change her now. Nowt so strange as folk as they say !

We're all so different in our outlook on life aren't we. I think we must all live the way that makes us happy and not judge others. I've never, ever judged anyone by how clean their house is. I'm probably halfway between your sister and you, in the way I am. I love charity shops too, I've always said the best job for me would have been working at the local tip, because I've always loved looking through what other people are throwing away. xxx

Our mother was a demon cleaner. As the eldest I was forced to do household tasks like vaccuuming and ironing - and resented it as I did not see that the things I had to iron ( never allowed to do my father's shirts while he was alive) needed ironing at all. Nor could I see the point in vaccuuming a clean carpet. My sister got away with having a very untidy room and her drawers were full of rubbish like old sweet papers and bus tickets. Now she is a demon cleaner but I have always stuck to my minimalist strategies. I used to clean the house a bit if we were having friends or relatives visiting from England but I am not going to do any more - if this bloody pandemic ever allows us any visitors! They can have a clean room and if the state of the rest of the house bothers them I will direct them to the dusters and hoover!.

I like your way of thinking Auriculaire.

Jalia profile image
Jalia in reply to jeanjeannie50

You're not one of these people who go through other people's Skips overnight are you Jean ??!😂😆

jeanjeannie50 profile image
jeanjeannie50 in reply to Jalia

I could quite easily be one of those people, but no I'm not desperate for other peoples rubbish now. Have tried to de-clutter my house and managed quite well.

Jalia profile image
Jalia in reply to jeanjeannie50

So true Jean. I don't leave my bedroom in the morning without some make up on , particularly my eyes !! Puts me in a better mood....

Thank you for posting this Jean ❤

jeanjeannie50 profile image
jeanjeannie50 in reply to Jay10

The words were given to me, many years ago, as part of a course on public speaking. I guess until other people reveal that they feel vulnerable and try to hide their lack of confidence, we're under the impression that we're the only ones feeling that way.

Spot on, l said what l really felt when upset by my husband, l had to let it out otherwise it festers,that was in January this year. Add a couple of weeks he's diagnosed with multiple myeloma stages 3 to 4. No cure just chemotherapy tablets and injections then in about a month he will have a stem cell harvest done. So was l pleased l said what l felt at the time YES. Its out there and we spoke about it. That's was a small hiccup in 43 years married. Now we face our biggest challenge together with love

BobD profile image

so true.

jeanjeannie50 profile image
jeanjeannie50 in reply to BobD

The more I think about it Bob, the more I realise that life is one big act. Even attending an interview, if the employer likes our act better than anyone else we get the job.


Yes, all we need is for others to like and accept what we present. I guess it's what we all strive for. Hmm, wonder what miserable people hope to achieve! What sort of effect are they hoping for with that manner. Are they rejecting, before the hurt of being rejected by others?

Oh Oh


So true. I hate fuss

I hate the thought of worrying my family. Whenever someone asks me ..apart from one friend who takes no prisoners.. I say oh fine not too bad. Probably had a week of crazy heart stuff!

It's a character thing I think.. I'll be fine as long as I think I will be...(?)

Loved this xx

I think if we tell others our woes it drags us down, them too if we go into too much detail. Far better to present our happy selves, all enjoying life. We truly have to be great at acting, because a good act will take us far. Xxx

That's it perfectly said

So true…..and such a shame. xxx

Yes, it's a shame, but really life is one big act. However, putting on the happy mask will make people like to be around us more. I have one friend I can be totally open to, but I make my sad story telling brief and she really listens, as I do to her. At times we can both laugh about ourselves and our woes too. Xxx


Very poignant and true. The mask we all wear covers confusion and self-doubt, but as you say it's difficult to shed it. Thank you .

Virtual hugs and Christian love to all of you that are feeling lonely. Rest on my shoulder a little and allow your mask to slip. God bless you all.

That's lovely Steve, thank you. 😊

Hi Jean.

I tried to 'like' your post but it 'unliked' ? Just wanted to say it's lovely.

"I panic at the thought of my weakness and fear of being exposed"

We all do. I've only spoken to you on the forum and not met you in person. However I know you are not weak and have the strength of mind to overcome your fears. I know I'm right.

As always loads of best,


If you tried to Like my post and it went to Unlike, you had probably already Liked it.

Yes, I think I can present a confident front and my daughter says I'm always smiling (she doesn't know that that's because she's going to feed me well). I'm generally in a happy mood, but that uncertainty of being accepted or not by others and the need to present myself well always lurks. I think I may tend to block people who I don't immediately warm to. Correction - I know I do that, some people are just on a totally different wavelength to me.


"but that uncertainty of being accepted or not by others and the need to present myself well always lurks"

Tell you what Jean - that's all of us and is human nature. The older I get the more I realise I'm not going to please everyone all the time. It's impossible.

"I think I may tend to block people who I don't immediately warm to"

Me to. It's quite funny in away as people sometimes think I'm 'off handish' when they first meet me. It's great to see those barriers come down overtime.


john6 profile image
john6 in reply to jeanjeannie50

It is humour that keeps us going "(she doesn't know that that's because she's going to feed me well)" lol. Whatever you lose in life - never let it be your humour 😉

Being on the same wavelength is so important (finding your tribe) which I am going to have to do as I'm moving soon.

I've never thought of it that way, but it's so true Tyson. That's another revelation for us to be aware of 'finding our tribe' (people who think and have a similar outlook on life). What area are you moving to?


I'm moving to Somerset Jean.

I'm in Devon. Perhaps if we have one of our AF get togethers in Exeter you could join us. Just need covid to go away.

Sounds like a good plan.Jo

How beauifuly put and so true.. "All the world is a stage and all the people in it mearly players"

jeanjeannie50 profile image
jeanjeannie50 in reply to Nora-B

Yep, those words are certainly true. Just off to the dentist for a bit of torture, I have an aching tooth. Now which act shall I perform when there. Hmmm. x

Ive not read anything that is as true to life as your post, it is touching and oh so true, I had always lived by the rule the show must go on inside my heart is breaking my make up may be fading but my smile still stays on. I find the hardest thing in life is pretending to be so strong keeping it all locked in. Ive just been diagnosed as being in heart failure along with different heart conditions. This last year has been a very difficult time for everyone and its such a uplift to find posts of people caring about one another which is such a positive thing to do. Thankyou for your post and i wish you lots of love and luck for the future. take care. Xx

Thank you for your lovely reply angel343. This is a great forum to be on for caring and support. I can't tell you just how much it's helped me with my atrial fibrillation and heart queries in general.

I'm just about to go out of my front door and step on to the stage. Make up is on. Lol. 😊



Oh yes. How I feel those words. It's much easier to put on a mask sometimes rather than show how we really feel. I'm estranged for lack of a better word from my sister and brother. They seem to have their own lives. Since I became ill I hear nothing from them. I suppose that's whatled me to this forum. To reach out. Thank


That's sad Belinda re your family. I think people are for more self centred now than they used to be.

Being part of this group is lovely though isn't it. that's one of our blessings.

Jean xxx

Yes it truly is a blessing being in this forum. I think most people here are more accepting of one another than their own family members. I know I can go off the deep end about some things on here but I find great comfort and understanding here even when other posters think I "messed up". Thanks to everyone here and I sincerely wish everyone to be as well as they are able to be.

My dear artist friend who passed away last October painted fun, whimsical characters of cats and dogs and fish. And he had notecards. Some of his art he would add his musings. All very colorful. Years ago he painted a cat and next to it he added this: I am me. I am just me. I'm a little like other cats. But mostly I am just.....ME. I know when he wrote that he was thinking about us humans as well. If anyone here wants to smile a little and you love cats and dogs look up his website.

Look at some of his work. It does make one smile. Don Nedobeck was a wonderful man. He loved life. He had/has a wonderful family. Very close. Wonderful wife, Liz. But he was not an arrogant person. Very humble and had great faith. The morning he passed away he was humming a favorite tune ( he was also a great jazz musician). He was alert and the nurse said he was in a good mood. 15 minutes later when she came back to check on him he had passed away. I told his wife Liz, he was humming because he knew his angels were coming that morning.


I’m struggling to do this every day, my family are fed up with my tears so on goes the mask. Depression is an awful thing. This just about sums me up.

We can be anything we want, we just have to act the part. I've chosen to be happy.

Do you feel that you lack confidence? I'm afraid I've never had depression so find it difficult to understand. Do people around you make you unhappy?

Jean xxx

Jalia profile image
Jalia in reply to jeanjeannie50

I agree with your first sentence very much as that describes me. I have never suffered from depression either. However having experienced friends and close family with depression I do have an understanding of it and wouldn't wish it on anyone. It is the most awful illness.

Having a son who suffers from depression at times, I feel that the saying that ' a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child 'is so true.

Depression is a very difficult thing to explain to anyone who has never suffered with it. I too didn’t understand before suddenly being struck by it. I don’t lack confidence and it has nothing to do with the people around me. I just feel that I have no purpose and an overwhelming feeling of grief. No motivation and forcing myself to live my life. I count my blessings every day and I have many but it’s like a black cloud over you all the time and no matter how hard you try you cannot lift your mood.

Thank you for explaining that.

Has something triggered you feeling this way? Could you do some voluntary work? It might give you a sense of worth. I volunteer for the National Trust as a room guide and love it. You can also sit down when you want to. Being with other people where you can have a laugh may do you good.

Wishing you well.

Jean x

Thank you Jean, yes I have been looking for voluntary work, never thought of National Trust though. Good idea, I will have to look into it. I miss going to work as I worked till I was 68, miss the social contact and rely on family too much for company. They, of course, are very busy with their own lives. Best wishes.

If you volunteer for the National Trust you get 20% off purchases in the shop and cafe, free entry to all other properties, a Christmas dinner, a yearly coach trip to another NT property, discount on renting their holiday properties, talks and lots of fun. They'll even pay your petrol to get to the place where you volunteer. They always need, volunteers to help in the houses, gardens, shops and cafes.


Hi Jean, took your advice and applied to Osterley park house and gardens as a volunteer and have been accepted. Took a look around yesterday sand it’s a lovely place and very close to me. So thank you 🙏

Well done you. I'll go and have a look at it online.

Wow, stunning!

And then the mask slips and you can no.longer hide and those that that care will.see your brokenness and try to.put you back.together. X

jeanjeannie50 profile image
jeanjeannie50 in reply to Nora-B

Hopefully, that will be the case Nora. xxx

Why did your poem make me 😢? Is it because l have had too many bad things happen in my life and as l am coming to the end of my life l am finding it harder to keep strong. I am fed up of being strong, as soon as l get over one thing something else happens. It is so hard to keep going. In case you think l am a moaner, l do count my blessings every day. I like a laugh and am an optimistic person generally. I think that has kept me going, but now l feel weak and have had enough but still feel l have things to do.

I know exactly what you mean and I think a lot of us feel that way too. I no longer watch anything violent or scary on t.v. Couldn't watch the football last night because it was so exciting it made me feel stressed. I never, ever, used to feel stressed, at times I'm not sure who I am anymore. However, my life is good and I too count my blessings. xxx

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