by Neesa Suncheuri
Is there a way to take off this mask?
It substitutes my personality with its own.
Forcing upon me its
This mask robs me of my identity,
And replaces me with its own.
So this is not me, when I slap your child.
This is not me, when I curse your family.
This is not me, when I pull a knife out.
I am innocent. I have never done anything wrong.
Yet the mask is enjoyable.
It tells me that I am powerful.
It tells me I’m a good father…
Why don’t you agree?
Why do you look at me like I am poison?
Why are you hateful against me, when you refuse to do what I say?
This is me, when I slap my child.
This is me, when I curse you, my family.
This is me, when I pull my knife out.
I am innocent, because I am always right.
This mask is handsome.
It gives me everything I want.
It makes me powerful.
I am a good father.
I am a loving husband.
I am a family man.
This is me, when my wife smiles.
This is me, when my children succeed.
This is me, when they respect my ways.
I am innocent, because I have humble pride.
But do not take my mask from me!
I am nothing without it!
Do not say otherwise!
I am honest!
I am justified!
I am always right!
How dare you, call me abusive!
How dare you, get in my way!
How dare you, demand I leave…
I am innocent, because I am lost.
I still have my mask,
But it is all I have left.
Nothing else remains.
All that remains is my name,
And the past memories it summons.
Did any of it happen? Did I even exist?
I am innocent, because I am nothing.
Neesa Suncheuri works as a mental health peer specialist at a housing agency in Queens, New York. She is the founder of a Facebook discussion group for peer specialists and other recovery enthusiasts, entitled “What is Wellness? A Mental Health Discussion Group.” Much of her creative inspiration is rooted in her now-tamed schizophrenia. She is a singer/songwriter, and performs in various venues in the city. She writes poetry, maintains a blog and is currently working on a memoir. Follow her on Twitter at @aquariumspeaks.