The Monsters Hate Light: 4 Steps to Surviving an Unmask

If you have ever unmasked a person, you know exactly what this means. The monsters hate the light being shined on them, because it exposes all the truths. Truths mean vulnerability. They will fight you to every end. So, how do you survive a monster?

studio shot of a man in a suit and purple mask
Photo by Los Muertos Crew

People who intentionally cross boundaries or are abusive towards others have elements narcissism, sociopathy, or psychopathy; oftentimes co-occurring mental health disorders. They do not want others to know what their actual behavior is, so they mask. Masking is the term to mimic the behaviors, characteristics, and behavioral styles of others for acceptance and praise, in combination of using walls of any sort to defend their emotional wellbeing. They may be strong figures in their community, a charitable individual, or a beloved boss. To these people, they put their mask of socially accepted and rewarded behaviors in order to hide the actual ugliness inside. They do this well. Most often, it is those in the closest relationships that bear the brunt of the abuse.

Have you ever been shocked that an acquaintance did something terrible to others: I thought I knew that person.

The common response for the neighbors of murders or rapists is that this person was quiet/kept to themselves/was kind to everyone else/helped grandma across the street daily….this is because they mask their true nature to keep their secrets safe in order to continue their cycle. They don’t know any different.

Some of us are comfortable showing vulnerability. Some of us show it periodically to trusted people. Then, there are the extremes of those who have too much or too little. Building walls or having no boundaries is a common struggle. There should be a course in high school that teaches people on how to form boundaries for healthy relationships and to communicate their needs and feelings. But, of course, sports and keeping all your difficult feelings bottled up tight is so much more important (I always fear for those that say, “well, I did so and so back in my day and I turned out just fine!” No, Harry, you’re a hot mess. Be realistic.

When you get the extremes from no vulnerability to too much, toxic situations can turn into abuse. That information may be gathered to later manipulate, emotionally or verbally abuse you, or use it to devalue your image in front of others. And, this is relevant to the topic above as your character is the first thing the abuser will attack if there is any threat of his or her behaviors being revealed.

These individuals lack the ability to form stable and emotionally connected relationships. They chronically circle between using people. They rarely get to experience long-lasting relationships, cannot get close to another emotionally, and typically have a personality disorder (PD), such as malignant narcissism or antisocial PD.

Here are some examples of what their inner world looks like:

How it feels when they’re unmasked: Crippling anger, pain, and/or shame.

How narcissists think: OH MY GOD people can see how awful I really am. I AM DEFECTIVE.

Their response: I CANNOT TOLERATE this feeling. I must make it go away any way I know how.

<Insert maladaptive coping mechanisms like addiction, walls of silence, anger, words, false information and distraction, and just about any other type of wall this person can contrive>

All of this is behind their response when unmasked.

Your weaknesses will be attacked. First, comes the manipulation. They want you to stay silent and are willing to make that happen any way they know how. This typical “I feel so low and miserable inside, so I have to present as better than you on the outside” approach is systemic. Don’t play the game. Speak your truth but don’t push to convince. People will believe what they want to, so let them. If they were interested in finding out the other story, they will ask. Read below for four straightforward methods you can use to help you through this shitty situation.

4 Steps to Surviving the Unmasking:

The first step:

Call it out but don’t data debate. Don’t argue the details or try to prove your stance. This is a smokescreen.

Expect gossip and don’t fight it. Disproving their gossip will only distract you from the real issue (abuse), and stall you and keep you from more important issues at hand. The focus at this point should be moving forward, healing, and tending to your needs.

People will not believe you. Let them. They don’t fill your shoes and run your life. And, their disproval can suck it. You don’t need someone to tell you how to feel.

woman in purple shirt covering her face with her hand
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

The second step:

Cancel the relationship. Leave, block, hide, run. Do not, what ever you do, try to change that person. It never works. People only make major changes when drastic life events force them to.

The third step:

Surround yourself with the people that support and love you for who you are. You need all the love you can get. You also need that input that you are not defective and as low as this person makes you out to be. Take in their support, don’t deflect it. You are valuable and you are loved just the way you are, warts and all.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t “should” all over yourself, as the past cannot be rewritten. You determine the future through the choices you make today. So, stay there, in the present.

The fourth step:

Find out if there is a pattern. Was your wife just like mom/ husband like dad? Did you marry the same partner 3 times over with different faces? Evaluate how you attach to others, whether you have attachment wounds, and how you can make changes in those areas. Low self esteem, a lack of boundaries, and codependency are the driving forces for these relational formations.

If you do not like what types of partners you accumulate, then do something about it, or you will constantly encounter the same monster in different bodies. No once can change that pattern but you.

The biggest misconception most have is the thought they can change these individuals. You cannot. We are not that powerful to cause another person to do something else. Yes, I have tried. We can only influence, speak our needs, and enforce boundaries.

The second common misconception is that you have to fight to defend your reputation. Don’t waste your time. It will suck you into a never-ending battle of fighting delusional lies and distract you from the real issue at hand: the abuse. This smokescreen is a commonly used and effective technique that people fall for.

The mass don’t have to know what you do or who you are by you telling them. You show them, everyday, with your kind heart and nurturing presence. Don’t let gossip disturb your inner world.

Male, female, there are abusers in several forms. Not all people are bad, and those that do hurt others are typically wounded themselves. Protect yourself, and stay afloat. It will pass and you will once again gain your footing. Never forget who you are.

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