Thursday, August 8, 2013

Let's Talk About Relapse - Day 13 - The Mask of Disguise!

We are into the third week of discussing the 3 Masks of Relapse.  Last time, we learned about the Mask of Denial and its powerful messages of self-deception!  In fact, I wrote, "The Mask of Denial is a Mask of Lies - Self-Inflicted Lies!" We learned how difficult it can be to arrest these toxic messages, but we learned that it is possible - with hard work. Utilizing the 5 step battle plan (described in the previous blog), we can discard the Mask of Denial and defeat the self-imposed lies before it leads us down the self-destructive path of relapse.  And as we do so, we can reclaim our truths. Let's now move on to The Mask of Disguise.


Mask of Disguise - The False Self

As soon as we are triggered by someone or something, the Mask of Denial typically is the first mask to present itself.  And immediately following, the Mask of Disguise shows up.  However, they may appear almost simultaneously. Think about this example. (The names and people I am referencing are fictitious,)

Marcus has been clean and sober for over two years.  Recently, he ran into an old drinking buddy who asked Marcus to 'come and hang out sometime'. Feeling lonely and missing his friends, Marcus begins to entertain the messages of self-inflicted lies as he puts on the Mask of Denial. As Marcus begins to make plans to visit his old friends, he then adorns the Mask of Disguise - and the pretending begins. At this point, Marcus begins to slip further into relapse, contacting his drinking buddies and setting up a time to meet. Wearing the Mask of Disguise, Marcus must now start lying to himself that what he is doing is ok, and he must start fabricating stories to cover his tracks. All of this takes incredibly energy; all of this moves Marcus away from his healing truths and into a false self. 

The Mask of Disguise is The Mask of the False Self.  

Wearing The Mask of Disguise is depleting and draining.

As we continue to slip further into relapse and the longer that we adorn the Mask of Disguise, the more resources it will require to maintain the false self.  Whether Marcus is covering up lies with more lies to his family and healthy friends, or not showing up on time for work, or having his wallet stolen while passed out, or having another fight with his girlfriend over his unexplainable absences, wearing the Mask of Disguise will eventually drain and deplete him psychologically, physically, financially, and relationally. And just as Marcus believes, all of us want to believe that the Mask of Disguise is preventing others from seeing the turmoil that is wreaking havoc within. Hiding behind The Mask of Disguise, we know it is all a lie; and we know we are drowning in the shame-filled mess we have created. 

How do we move forward; how do begin to reclaim our true selves again? Depending on the kind and/or the severity of relapse, obviously the interventions will vary accordingly. Sadly but most often, it isn't until the resources and energy to keep the false self alive have run out or the false self is left in ruins, that an individual is ready to re-embrace recovery. Remember, recovery from relapse is always present; it is always possible. It is always waiting for us. It is my hope and intention with this blog that we recognize The Mask of Disguise for what it is, understand its role in relapse, and just as with The Mask of Denial, arrest it in its tracks before we are in a full episode of relapse. We must begin by taking a brutally honest inventory of what happens to each of us when we wear this mask.  Start by answering these questions: 
  • How do you present the "false self"? Who are you? What do you become?
  • How do you act when you are pretending that your life is fine?
  • What lies do you tell yourself and others?
  • What unhealthy behaviors do you return to or acquire in order to hide your decline into relapse?

By identifying the features of our false self, by admitting their role in our relapse, and by owning their impact upon us, we equip ourselves for an ealier recognition of The Mask of Disguise the next time it presents itself, and we are armed for its immediately removal! 


With our  awareness and knowledge, as soon as we find ourselves face to face with The Mask of Disguise, we will implement another version of the 5 step battle plan!
  • Recognize the features or behaviors of the false self! Name them! 
  • Reject them! Call them out!
  • Replace them with features or behaviors of the true self! Be honest, real, and authentic!
  • Reclaim that true self. Act upon your healthy choices.
  • Repeat the process, as many times as necessary!

It is hard work, but it is worth it! Keep going! Feel yourself getting stronger each and every time you...

Reclaim and Fortify Your True Self!

At ease with the Tue Self
Next time, we will tackle the final mask - The Mask of Detachment.

Homework:  Complete the self- inventory by answering the questions above.  Take your time. Be courageous and be brutally honest. Don't allow this mask to rob you of your truths any longer.  Then, practice the 5 step battle plan! 

Special note!  Goodreads  Giveaway is still in progress!  20 copies of Mountain Air- free!  Easy to enter! Easy to win!  http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/57310-mountain-air-relapsing-and-finding-the-way-back-one-breath-at-a-time

Thank you to all who have entered!! 249 and counting!

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