Addiction Coping Mechanisms: The Masks We Wear, Part 2

October 19, 2017
Johann Kassim

Addiction Coping Mechanisms: The Masks We Wear, Part 2

If you haven't read about why we wear these masks, and some of the earlier ones, click here for to view part one. Continuing the list of Masks addicts wear in addiction:

Mr./Mrs. Wonderful

Addicts will wear this mask to please others. The need for pleasing is because addicts believe that they are not worthy of friendship. It's the result of the shameful effects of the disease. So, they will be nice people with others all in the hope of not being found out as addicts. Their behaviour may involve a list of self-sacrificing acts. For example, putting themselves out to help another or compulsive helping. The idea is to prove themselves as the most adorable and lovable person. Yet, it's a pity it's all a sham unless the addiction is addressed. For only in recovery, can one learn to be authentically loving and caring. Thus, lovable and adorable.

Mr./Mrs. Nobody/The Ghost/The Zombie

This mask is an admission of being nobody worthy of attention. It comes from a place of deep self-pity and depression. The donning of this mask is due to a depressive belief system. "If i'm that bad and life treats me like this, then, it's better am nobody." It is a denial of one's personality and spirit.

The behavior that results from this is a lack of self-care and self-destruction. It can even come out in nihilistic behaviors such as self-harm and suicidal thinking. If not tackled could result in a loss of life.

What’s worse is that addicts know they are meant for something greater than their self-denying behaviors. But, only in treatment, can they get the help they need to peel away this stubborn mask of self-denial.

Mr./Mrs. Perfect

This mask places the addict as the best in his/her trade or profession. It even goes so far to say that the addict is the best, period. There is nobody who can excel better than the addict in question. Hence, he/she has the responsibility to live up to this meteoric expectation of others as the best in the world. It comes from the belief system of "I'm only as good as I give." It hides tremendous insecurity. The reality is that people are born with imperfections as part of their humanity. But, addicts will find it difficult to accept those imperfections. Not until they learn to live with them in recovery.

Little Princess/Little Lord

This mask is very closely connected to King/Queen Baby. Except that it focusses on the servitude of others rather than on mere entitlement. Refer to part 1 of this series for more on King/Queen Baby.

Little Princesses/Lords believe that they are in a separate class above other people. They lord responsibility on others to serve them. They expect service from others without any need to return in kind. The belief is that "I always get what I want whenever I want it from others."

In the long-run, addicts will realise that such expectations is childish at best. At worst, it is a form of narcissism. Using this mask isolates the addict from others as people do not want to be in the company of demanding persons. Hence, in recovery, addicts learn to connect with what they need from others.  Rather, than what they want from them.

The Time Waster/Procrastinator

It says it in the title. The procrastinator or time waster, wastes time doing frivolous things. This may include indulging in addictive behaviors. At the end of the day, all addictions are a form of avoiding reality and life. Hence, it's all a waste of time.

The belief behind this mask is that "I have all the time to waste." Though that is not the case at all. The clock ticks for everyone, and time will run out for most. It's important to have time for relaxing and pleasurable activities.But, it needs to be earned rather than a given.

In recovery, addicts will learn to maximise their use of time. It comes from appreciating the preciousness of each moment. This can only happen as a result of removing this mask.

The Clown

The clown is the joker or entertainer. They believe that "I'm only acceptable if others can laugh at me/my jokes." Their main purpose of existence is to make other people happy. They will entertain and joke around to gain support for their entertaining behavior. But, there comes a time when the show is over, and life resumes. In recovery, the addict will learn what vulnerabilities lay beneath this mask.

Mask Removals at Solace Sabah

At Solace Sabah, we endeavour to remove your masks, one at a time. It's akin to peeling layers off an onion. Usually, as one engages in this process of self-authentication, one will notice one thing.

It's quite amazing how each mask is  interdependent. This means that one mask supports the other and vice-versa. For example, the clown and Mr./Mrs. Wonderful are interchangeable. Mr. Wonderful would use "the clown" as part of his self-sacrificing behaviour. Or that the Plastic Gangster will support Mr. Nobody's worldview of himself. His aggression will mask the fact that he sees himself as unworthy or unnoticeable.

We at Solace Sabah, have counsellors and recovery coaches who can assess these masks. We hold workshops on mask identification as well as peer support to identify the masks worn. Then, through various therapies such as CBT, we challenge the beliefs that have held these masks in place. 

As a whole, this process will take time as each mask took time to emerge. But, it is a wholesome process of self-discovery and re-creation. It's an exciting and fulfilling journey that helps to re-assemble the addict from his/her pain. That pain is the woes or suffering of not living a fulfilling life. In recovery, life will be fulfilling, and it starts with treatment. Call us for more information, we are always happy to help you.

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