By: Marilyn L. Davis
Addiction: Fake Appearances
“The best way to conserve precious energy and time is to be real with yourself and others. The soul can only keep up fake appearances for so long before becoming completely exhausted.” ― Christine E. Szymanski
In our addiction, our fake appearances help us manipulate and fool people. They hid our vulnerabilities, but underneath them, most of us were:
- Smiling when every fiber of our being is screaming in pain.
- Friendly, when all we want to do is get our dope and leave.
- Pretending that we have it all together when we take our children to school or football.
- Showing fake emotions because we are so embarrassed and frightened by our authentic ones.
Showing Our Authentic Self
Discovering the authentic self in recovery is initially about finding all the character defects and self-defeating behaviors within and making an effort to change them. We remove the layers of old negative messages, limiting beliefs, and not being afraid to acknowledge that certain aspects of our personalities need a makeover in our recovery.
We do this because we want to change and because we’re tired of wearing masks and false fronts.
During this process, our insides start matching those false fronts and are no longer fake but authentic.
Children Adopt Masks to Cope
Many of us learned as children to adopt specific roles. We fostered a fake appearance to the outside world and wore our masks. Unfortunately, some of us did not outgrow our roles and carried them into our addiction.
Children take on roles, masks, or false fronts, or fake appearances to survive in dysfunctional family systems. We then play these roles out in our addiction, too. Click To Tweet
The Six Primary Roles from Childhood
1. Hero or the Good Child
The Hero child makes good grades, participates in healthy social and sports activities, and makes friends. They also give the family a solid reputation. More than anything, this child dedicates their actions to make it seem like the family functions well.
Hero children assume many of the responsibilities of the parents and often take care of younger children.
In their addiction, they are the ones labeled the control freak. Sadly, they think that if they can control the external aspects of their lives, they don’t have to acknowledge the inner turmoil.
2. Scapegoat or the Problem Child
This role bears the brunt of the blame for the problems within the family. Sometimes, they are responsible for the family’s standing within the community. Frequently this child is an underachiever, prone to moodiness, angry outbursts, feelings of abandonment, and low self-esteem.
Prompting some of their actions is often a feeling of less than within the family and acted out as, “if you think I’m bad, I’ll show you bad.”
Problem children often grow into problem adults. I do not think I have ever met an addict or alcoholic who would not qualify for the problem adult label.
Yet, it’s too easy to overlook the wounded person beneath when we’re dealing with problem people.
3. The Caretaker
These children are in charge of the emotional well-being of the household. They comfort siblings and parents after arguments, soothe feelings between other family members, and often become isolated in their feelings of sadness that no one addresses.
Feeling the burden of the family’s emotional health, they often continue with sweet, kind, and caring fake appearances in their addictions while harboring resentments.
4. The Clown
This role is the release of the pressure cooker family system. They are articulate, funny, and willing to play the court jester to diffuse the tensions within the family.
Realizing that if people are laughing, they may forget the drama and chaos within the family system, these children create humor, often at their expense.
In addiction, this role will do anything for a laugh, even when they are crying inside.
5. The Mastermind
Scheming, making notes on the vulnerabilities of other family members, they hold any information to use later. This role will manipulate any situation or person to their advantage.
In addition, they continue to manipulate the feelings and vulnerabilities of others. They take advantage of people for their pleasure and gain.
6. The Lost Child
By staying quiet, never needy, these children stayed clear of the chaos. They don’t make waves, seem self-sufficient even at an early age, and are often the most neglected family member.
In their addiction, they do not trust that anyone has a solution for them and often reject caring attempts to get them help. After all, if their family didn’t care enough to notice them, why would a stranger?
When you can name which childhood role you played, you can take steps to remove this false identity in your recovery. Click To Tweet
Recovery: We Begin with a Blank Slate
Without this painstaking process, we will never get to our authentic and best selves.
When I show you my dark side, it permits you to expose yours. You can also have those emotions if I show you that I’m mad, sad, glad, or scared.
We give hope and strength to one another when we each look at our fake appearances and make an effort to remove them.
We give hope and strength to one another when we each look at our masks and make an effort to remove them. We are no longer trapped in our addiction or have to present a false front and fake appearances to others. It’s rather like starting over; we can show our genuine emotions, regardless of what they are.
“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be eliminated nor become a light for others.” ― Brennan Manning
Recovery gives us a new and fresh beginning; shouldn’t it also give us the go-ahead to show our real face to people? Whatever emotion we’re feeling, being authentic is what recovery is. And what if, during the process of healing, we find that we are okay?
In our recovery, we stop putting on fake appearances and let the world see our authentic self.
Writing and recovery heals the heart.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.