Life without a mask
"I don't know if it's possible to live without any masks, to be completely true. It seems to me that I'm wearing a mask, in some way pretending and manipulating others, almost all the time. This means I'm hardly ever completely comfortable and at ease with myself. The only time I feel true and at ease is in an intimate I-Thou/intersubjective space with someone, but I cannot create that space on my own. Where do I go from here?" A.F
Thanks for your honest and sincere question. As long as our identity is based on the personal, limited sense of self (ego) which is the very definition of unease, discomfort, and pretense we will not be free. In those moments of intimacy/intersubjectivity with another person, the false sense of self dissolves or falls into the background and your essential/natural/transparent Self comes to the foreground (it is always present but is usually occluded by the relentless concerns of the ego). It's not possible for the ego/personal self to work on itself to remove the masks and become transparent and free of pretense. That approach only reinforces the ego and goes exactly nowhere. By being the observer/witness of your ego's pretense and manipulation as you are doing here, you are breaking the chain of identification with it. Who or what is this observer/witness?? This is where one's focus and investigation needs to be.
Only by a shift of identity from the personal, limited sense of self to the unlimited, empty, witnessing Self is there any chance of lasting freedom from pretence, manipulation and discomfort.