Everybody has issues, whether they are an alcoholic, addict, both, or neither. Man, woman, or child, we all have problems. Culturally speaking, no matter what categories you fit into, we hear a lot of mixed messages — some of which are downright destructive. At Jaywalker Lodge, we deal exclusively with men who suffer from alcoholism, addiction, and mental and emotional health issues. Given that this is the group of people we spend helping day in and day out, we have noticed that some issues, hang-ups, and misconceptions appear quite frequently. Our passion is to do our part to end the cycle of chronic relapse and produce lasting recovery, but we can also address some of the common issues facing men in recovery. Our series on “Men’s Issues” was created with this goal in mind.
Even the Lone Ranger Didn’t Work Alone
Do you remember the Lone Ranger? He was a cowboy hero back in the day. Even if you don’t know who he was, you’ve probably heard his name in movies or songs. The Lone Ranger was an icon of standing solo — going it alone against incredible odds. He was a beacon of self-sustaining masculinity, and his name is often used to refer to someone who prefers the lone-wolf lifestyle. We use the “wolf” analogy quite often. If you ask any of the men in a “wolf pack,” every single one of them is either an “alpha wolf” or a “lone wolf.” It’s funny how that works. Another hard fact to face is this — even the Lone Ranger worked with a partner.
In today’s society, men are frequently told that our efforts are only valid if we go it alone. It only counts if we get it done by ourselves. We need to rally, “man up,” and push through. It’s weak to ask for help — everyone will think you’re feeble if you ever need anything from anybody. These hideous misconceptions about what it means to be a fully-functioning male adult are all wrong, completely backwards, and quite dangerous. So many men suffer needlessly behind these wrong ideas. Men struggle with situations that could easily be overcome if only they allowed themselves to ask for help. But they don’t, because they fear they’ll be seen as weak, undesirable as a mate, and never be able to hold their heads up again. Men suffer in silence with emotional and mental health issues that could be addressed and potentially healed. They literally die from alcoholism and addiction because they think they won’t be real men anymore if they ask for help.
We Can’t Do It Alone
How sad and silly that these flatout wrong and deviously destructive false ideals have taken such deep root in our culture, society, and in ourselves. We must accept our responsibility in perpetuating these killer myths, and we must do our part to tear them down when we see them. Especially those of us who are in recovery — we know all too well that we never could have recovered alone. Nor could we really be living our lives in recovery without the near-constant companionship and frequent help of people around us. There are no lone wolves who last long in the recovery community — we just can’t do it alone.
Our relationships with other people are some of the brightest and most rewarding parts of our recovery. Sharing the good and bad, the learning and growth, the success and the mistakes with other people is a huge element of what makes our lives in recovery so full. We learn from others, we grow with them, we weather the storms of life together, we receive help, and we also get the blessing of being able to help them. Once we’ve experienced this, it’s highly unlikely we would ever want to give it up. But our culture still tries its best to drill into the heads of men that they are lesser people if they need the help of others. In recovery at Jaywalker Lodge, we know better — and it is our responsibility to try to clear these harmful misconceptions when we encounter them. When we meet a new man in recovery, we can start with them. The closeness, camaraderie, and fellowship between men in recovery is often the lifeline that keeps them alive, sober, in recovery, and moving forward in their lives.
It Starts From Within
How can we begin to fight this potentially fatal and false ideal of manhood? We start where we must always start — with ourselves. Is there something we’re keeping inside that we should share with our sponsor or close friend? Are we struggling with something and going it alone when we should muster the courage to ask for help? When we avoid opening up to people or asking them for help, we are not just hurting ourselves. We hurt the people around us, too. Perhaps their lives, or at least their day, would be significantly better if they were able to provide help for a beloved friend. We might even find out that they’re going through something similar that they were ashamed to talk about — by opening up and asking for help, we might have saved their life as well as ours. Keeping silent and trying to go it alone is causing men to suffer needlessly. It’s time to retire the Lone Ranger mindset and work together for lasting recovery.
Men are culturally trained to believe that asking for help is weak and they should attempt to fix their problems themselves. While healing solutions to alcoholism, addiction, and mental and emotional health issues do require willingness and action on the part of the sufferer, they can almost never be healed or conquered alone. Even the best of us need help. At Jaywalker Lodge, we stand ready to help those who need and want it. Call us today at (866) 529-9255.
As Chief Executive Officer Bill provides leadership and manage all day-to-day operations of Jaywalker Lodge, an extended care residential addiction treatment program for adult men.