freedom from addiction

Peeling Back the Onion

In Recovery by Tree House Recovery

Peeling back the onion is an expression often used in psychotherapy as a metaphor for what takes place during the process of self-discovery. When discovered in this way, we are able to take the necessary time to allow the layers to slowly peel back in order to allow for the hidden parts to emerge. As addicts, we also experience this same process in early recovery, however, in our case we often experienced the emergence of our hidden selves involuntarily. When we remove the substances that worked to mask our insecurities, we take away the barrier between what we keep locked away deep in our unconscious and our conscious minds. As anyone who has engaged in recovery knows, this process can wreak havoc in our psyches and manifest itself as symptoms of depression, anxiety, and compulsions. Because of the feelings associated with this process and the chaotic nature in which it manifests itself, we can easily be naïve in thinking that we ought to suppress this experience. The suppression and lack of acknowledgement towards these split-off parts of ourselves is actually part of what continues to drive forward our addictions. The reason for this is somewhat paradoxical because although these hidden parts need and want to be expressed, our brain is also aware that their expression can create negative emotional states and therefore it will mobilize cravings as a means to send us a signal to retreat from our journey towards growth.

It helps to understand just what these hidden parts are and also why we choose to not allow their expression. These split-off parts of self are composed of all the things we are ashamed to be and all the ideas about ourselves that we do not want others to see in us. Essentially, we want to continue the fantasy of presenting ourselves to the world as perfect in one way or another. While this approach to being is understandable, it is certainly not sustainable as we are only are only able to realize our whole self to the extent that we allow ourselves to see ourselves as whole, flawed characteristics and all. If we can work to stay sober, adopt humility and patience, and apply courage and persistence, we will eventually realize our potential; we will be the acorns that develops into the oak tree.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474