Men’s Issues: The Hole in the Doughnut

Hole in the Doughnut

Table of Contents

At Jaywalker, we help men who struggle with achieving long-term recovery from alcoholism and addiction. We particularly seek to reach the ones who can’t seem to stay in recovery, despite the honest desire to do so. These are the Jaywalkers, just like we were. By being part of this specific population of alcoholics and addicts, and recognizing what has helped and continues to help men like us, we have identified techniques, actions, and ways of thinking that are effective. We have also been able to recognize common themes and dangerous patterns that seem to plague men who struggle to maintain sobriety.

We would like to take time to address these men’s issues and share useful information and insights. This month, we have selected an extremely common fear amongst men — fear of being the hole in the doughnut.

What Does a Doughnut Have to Do With Me?

This fear gets its goofy name from the recovery book titled Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. In the chapter for the 3rd-Step, we are asked to make the decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of our higher power. This is a seemingly difficult and often misunderstood step that vexes many people. Part of the reason for this is the inherent desire for control and independence that is so strong in most men.

The book quotes our typical response to the 3rd-Step: “If I keep on turning my life and my will over to the care of Something or Somebody else, what will become of me? I’ll look like the hole in the doughnut.” Hence, the fear of being the hole in the doughnut is the fear of giving over control to our higher power — and the underlying fear that we will disappear, losing our identity and our sense of self.

Letting Go of the Lone Wolf

Most men take great pride in their independence and self-reliance. For generations, our culture has driven into men that we ought to be lone wolves, self-made men, hardworking and stand-alone individuals. For men like us, who also happen to be alcoholics or addicts, we take that mentality to its extreme. We often go too far with the lone-wolf mindset, ending up totally alone or at least feeling that way. We become self-made, too, but what we have made of ourselves is usually a suffering wreck. We are stand-alone individuals as well, because we have alienated ourselves. As for independence, that’s a tougher issue.

We like to see ourselves as independent men. We don’t want or need anybody to help us. But we found ourselves pretty dependent on drugs or alcohol, didn’t we? We needed a connection or a bartender or at the very least we needed a substance upon which we depended so deeply that it nearly killed us or certainly caused us extreme trouble. So maybe we aren’t really the independent lone-wolf guy we fancy ourselves to be. Can we entertain that thought? Even if we made our money and lived on our own, weren’t we wholly dependent upon some substance? Upon something outside ourselves to make us feel better and get us through another day?

Yet, almost all men have a real problem with letting go of the idea of independence. Self-reliance, we’re told, is what makes a man a man. Yet, if we look at the results of our self-reliance before recovery, what can be said for it? Were we happy, helpful, and living our best life? Not likely, for we found ourselves gratefully desperate for recovery. Luckily, we’re here. But then comes the 3rd-Step, and we grow terrified of losing our independence and self-reliance once again.

What It Really Means to Be Free

Fear of becoming the hole in the doughnut is very common, but it is not real. First, the hole is the thing that makes a doughnut a doughnut, and not just a piece of bread. Second, we were already losing ourselves to addiction and alcoholism. We were completely mastered by our disease. And now, in recovery, we are given a chance at freedom, meaning, usefulness, and real happiness. We only have to let go of our self-reliance at the 3rd-Step. Is that really too high a price to pay for freedom? Really think about it.

There is a subtle irony underlying this fear, and the Twelve and Twelve book describes it wonderfully. “The more we become willing to depend upon a Higher Power, the more independent we actually are. Therefore dependence, as A.A. practices it, is really a means of gaining true independence of the spirit.” See that? We’ve already lost our independence to our disease, as we fell to relying on our substance of choice to survive. And yet, we refuse to let go of this idea of “doing it on our own” when asked to turn our independence to a higher power.

If we can summon the bravery to try reliance on a higher power, we will likely find that in doing so we are given real independence for the first time. We are freed from our disease and we are given meaning, purpose, and true joy in recovery. We also become much more likely to be able to stay in recovery.

Face This Fear

You’re not alone if you fear becoming the hole in the doughnut, but you are selling yourself short if you don’t attempt to face this fear. Most who find long-term recovery will tell you their reliance on a higher power didn’t cost them independence. They didn’t disappear or lose their identities — instead, they were able to learn who they truly are for the first time. They became more alive, and more than themselves than ever. They were able to stay in recovery at Jaywalker and learn about who they really are. Most importantly, they found freedom, meaning, usefulness, and joy in recovery.

Jaywalker is here to help men who struggle with chronic relapse. If you honestly want to get sober and achieve long-term recovery but have not been able to, even after many attempts, we are here for you. In fact, we were just like you. What worked for us will likely work for you, too. You are our kind of people, and we are ready to share what we know can work. To learn more, call us today at (970) 533-8087.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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