Diamonds

Just as a diamond is strong and multifaceted, so too are the best people I have known. There’s a lot more to them than meets the eye. Paradoxically, the strongest ones I know consider themselves deeply wounded, bent and broken, or damaged goods. The greatest folks I know have felt real pain and they have suffered, persevered, and survived.
Jan’s a deeply spiritual woman with the soul of a poet. She’s an artist and an advocate. She’s passionate about her life’s work and she gives of herself to many. She came to see me recently and just seemed to be tied up in knots. It’s not the intellectual or intuitive that eludes her. She’s got the same pain with a different face and she recognizes the feelings but can’t place the underlying familiarity.
Jan wrestles with self doubt and as with us all; it attacks her blind side every time. Jan is a powerful woman with a beautiful voice. She is righteous and she is clear. Her words for others are poignant and effective. She is speaking today for only herself and therefore her words fail her. Jan is seeking to be heard by men who embody the familiar and she feels she is to blame for having not been heard. Nothing could be further from the Truth.
We agonize as we find unacceptable answers to questions we should never have had to ask. We seek to have an emptiness filled by men and women who symbolize those who denied us our birthright. We yearn to be heard. We are dying to be understood. To be unconditionally loved and accepted is the right of every child. There are no bad children, but there are children who learned that these things had to be earned and we grew to become adults. “What we lived with we learned and what we learned we became.”
We are as powerless today to get what we need as we were as kids because we seek fulfillment from those who have nothing to give. We hold out. We wait far too long – unto death we wait for those who denied us. We seek the approval of employers, lovers, mentors, and peers. We are insatiable. No matter how much we earn we crave more or worse – we cast aside everything earned because we feel unworthy of praise, recognition, appreciation, and acceptance. To celebrate us is to slay us. We cringe at compliments that we killed ourselves to earn and nothing changes the way we were taught to see ourselves because we are staring into carnival mirrors. We must learn to see ourselves as healthy kin and friends see us. We must come to acceptance that we were lied to about our worth.
I am not the man Jan needs to hear the Truth from. I am simply the one in her path and so I tell her. She is free to receive everything she needs, but she must seek it from those who are not familiar – good men. Jan sees me as a good man and I am amongst those she does not fear and so she asks me to tell her about her true self. I explain proactively that I do not know how to be ashamed of her and so I am free to see her as she is. Regardless of what she could ever tell me about her past or her life today I will not judge her and therefore her shame cannot touch my perspective. I am not afraid to see the Truth about her. I am not conflicted in seeing that she is wonderful and so I tell her what I see and I ask only that she believe that I believe this Truth.
Jan’s vision misses nothing and I love that she studies not my face but my eyes alone. She is seeking Truth and she reads me like a book. She does not blink but the tears roll down as she takes in my view of her. She sees that I believe in her and that I am honored to know her.
I find her quite remarkable and it pains me that it hurts her to hear this. I remind us both that her Higher Power loves her and that S/He knows the Truth about Jan far better than anyone. Despite the depth of our faith we still see ourselves not as God sees us, but as our caregivers and other abusers saw us. We are confronted with evidence that these people were wrong about us but we are afraid to acknowledge that evidence much less collect it and let it become a new way of seeing ourselves. We fear change always – even when it is pure.
Maintaining a healthy perspective and regaining it when we lose it are vitally important skills. We tend to see others clearly and we tend to see ourselves as far less than we are. If we are to reach our potential we must strip away the shame and the guilt that blinds us. We must see ourselves through the eyes of healthy people. Our Higher Power works through the people S/He places in our path. In order to receive those sent to us we must be looking in their eyes and not down at our shoes. We must be open to accepting that regardless of what we believe that others see us differently, more favorably, by virtue of having a clearer lens.
We are afraid to know who we really are because we believe that those who hurt us were right about us. We reason that they knew us from the start – that they raised us and we feel compelled to honor them. There need be no conflict in refusing to honor those who were dishonorable toward us. We tend to be more than willing to speak the Truth of what we see in others. We deserve the same.
Make yourself this promise: I will allow myself to accept the Truth that healthy people hold of me and share with me. I cannot have what I needed from those I sought it from but I can have it if I am willing to accept it from those my Higher Power places in my path today. I deserve this. It is my birthright and my Higher Power and all healthy people who love me want this for me.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.