We’re told conflicting stories about our ego as men when it comes to our individuality. In recovery, we will hear terms like “terminally unique” which refers to the destructive way of thinking that tells us we are so unlike anyone that we cannot relate to anyone. Terminal uniqueness keeps us isolated from the rest of the world, our fellows, and at worst, ourselves. Some of us might have heard damaging messages in our childhood from adult figureheads or childhood friends which told us we aren’t special. We might have heard we are nobody, nothing, unwanted, unlovable, and worthless. Most likely, at some other point in our lives, we probably heard that we are special, completely unique, unlike anyone else, which makes us stand out in a good way.
Finding ourselves in the depths of drug and alcohol addiction, then in the grips of recovery, figuring out who we are, what we’re worth, and how we fit into the world becomes a challenge. Addiction and alcoholism carry a lot of weight produced by shame, stigma, and a broad lack of information among the general public. Men who become addicted to drugs and alcohol are given many damaging messages about who they are- not just because they are addicted but because they are men who are addicted. Society puts an incredible amount of pressure on men to be strong and consistent providers to themselves and others. Addiction taints the image society wants men to portray because it exemplifies the fact that men are very much human and consequently, very much prone to flaw, fault, and imperfection. Discovering a new self as a recovering addict, as well as a new self as a recovering man, is a challenge for men throughout their sobriety.
What men can do is create ways to self-affirm who they find out they are and celebrate what does and does not make them unique. One of the more profound learning experiences men have in recovery is realizing that they are not alone in their addiction or their life experiences. Addiction, ironically, becomes one of the many things which does make men unique, because as men of recovery, addiction was the foundation for radical transformation in bringing men back to connection with their unique, and not unique, selves.
Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon is a men’s addiction treatment center that teaches our clients how to roll with life’s punches and use the tools they’ve learned throughout the treatment process to stay on top of anything life throws at them. Call (503) 850-2474 to see how we can help you today.