Trying to be Superman

He’s my chosen family – one of my closest brothers. I’ve never known a better man. My heart aches for him because he’s way too good to be this far down. The wear and tear of what he expects from himself are taking a toll. I know that feeling all too well. He’s a one way street . he gives but doesn’t take and he’s loved by everyone who isn’t him.

Above all he expects that his kids get his very best stuff. Never miss a ballgame, a recital or a chance to volunteer. Know everything. Be up on what their friends are doing, who their heroes are, and what they’re dreaming of being one day. Know what they need and provide it at any cost. Skates, gear, lessons, work overtime. Can’t let them be left out. Can’t fail like his dad did. Being the opposite of those who raised you is exhausting.

“I am everything you want. I am everything you need.” – Vertical Horizon  “You’re a God”

Next is his wife. He has to know what she needs before she does. Check in with her. Make her crazy by asking a little too often if she’s happy. Never fight with her. Always give in and above all don’t let her down. She’s tired; you’re not. Get up with the kids. Tell her to go out with the girls from work. You got this.

Work is next. Be better than your coworkers but build them up as you go. Make the people above you look good. Make them believe they can’t run the place without you but smile and take the lousy 3% raise annually. Be relentless. Give more. If you don’t do it, who will? Perfection is attainable if you strive.

Friends and extended family are next. Who needs help? Who’s struggling with life, depression, or having relationship problems? We’ll be right there. Everyone can count on us. We teach them this then resent them for it (silently).

Money and time. Time and money. Never enough. Not good enough. Try harder. You’re not bleeding. Get up. Do it again. Hit the wall. Hit it harder. Break.

Feeling like you’ve failed…again.

“Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes, I am.” – from the movie New Jack City, 1991

My brother is the best kind of hypocrite. He knows the joy of coming through in spades for good folks who are going through bad times yet he chooses to struggle alone. The white lies he tells himself justify his way of being – don’t want to impose, burden, or stress the people who love him.

The truth is it’s far more comfortable to give than to receive. Vulnerability is what he inspires, not what he allows himself. This is why his tank runs dry. A steady diet of stress, sleep deprivation and sacrifice will f@ck up even the toughest of us in the long run.

Before going into therapy (as a client) I was just like him. I believed that I couldn’t do enough because I did not believe that I WAS enough. I gave until it hurt and shrugged off every bit of praise, recognition, and offer of support. I was terrified to let anyone be close to me because if they really KNEW me then they wouldn’t like me.

When we believe we’re not good enough we seek to earn everything. We’re very good at getting approval for what we do, but what we most want is approval for who we are. Funny thing about f@cked up people like us – we don’t let ourselves have more than we believe we deserve. We’ll give it away, throw it away, or find a way to self destruct before it gets too good. Then we’ll start over earning the very things we just discarded.

How does one recognize their true worth?

It starts by integrating the truth of good people and accepting what they see in us. When we do for others, we don’t get to decide what it’s worth. They do. When we stay busy identifying and meeting the needs and wants of others; we are avoiding ourselves. Those who love us are not avoiding. They are seeing that we live as though we are seeking redemption. They see that we fail to appreciate ourselves. They see so clearly what we cannot – that we are loveable and acceptable just as we are. It’s selfish of us not to allow them to meet our needs and share their truth. It hurts them to be held at arm’s length.

“You know I don’t understand why you don’t treat yourself better.” – Eagles “The Long Run”

My brother forgets that my success is due entirely to being loved and supported by a LOT of amazing people. People like him.

I am blessed because I have a long line of good people standing between me and my self destruct button. I have been through hell and while I used to fear going back there, I’ve realized that I can’t go there alone. I am accountable to people who not only love me, but are also capable of challenging me and calling me out when I try to take on the world singlehandedly.

My brother and I have nothing to prove, neither do you. Stop avoiding you. Get right with good people and discover the truth about your worth.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in assisting people in recovery (whether from drugs, alcohol, 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.