How to Build a Support System: Screwed Up Peoples Anonymous

Strange as it may seem, the easiest people for me to help get support in changing their lives are recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. All I have to do is recommend local AA & NA groups and there they are – countless good people with shared positive goals who sincerely want to be of service. It’s counterintuitive to folks early in recovery but it’s true – it helps them to help you.

But what about those of us who have never had an addiction but are otherwise f@cked up?

Some folks find fellowship in churches. F@cked up people like me tend to be far more spiritual than religious. Some folks get their needs met by their family of origin. This is generally not an option for those of us who are f@cked up because the people we’re related to are usually not emotionally available to us.

I’ve been saying for years that what the world needs is F@cked Up Peoples Anonymous. I both greatly admire and envy what programs like AA offer. I would love to be part of a group 2 million strong. I would love to know that in any city and most towns I find myself in that there are people who are like me that want to offer me fellowship and support my being a work in progress.

Life is too hard without having really good people to go through it with.

Developing a support system is vital and in some respects very difficult to do – it depends on who is in your life, their ability and willingness to be of help and our comfort level in asking for help.

The folks currently in our lives quite naturally have expectations of us. However we generally act, they expect us to continue as they perceive us to be. If we ask for help and they’re used to seeing us as someone who has it “all together” or as someone that only gives and never seems to expect anything in return, it follows that they will look at us funny. People are resistant to change – even when it’s positive.

Asking for help is awkward and uncomfortable – people tend to do it very indirectly and very passively. I urge folks to be very direct, concise and to ask for exactly what they need. I remind them that they feel good when they come through for others and that they now get to offer others the opportunity to feel good about helping them.

A lot of us ask for so little because we feel we don’t have a lot to offer in return. This is almost never the case. In the world we live in, if we’re simply willing to listen and care…that’s a lot. If we are able to relate and have empathy – that’s frosting on the cake. It’s not about finding the answers to problems. It’s about supporting people as they go through them.

It saddens me to find that so many of the good people who seek my support professionally live very lonely lives. I urge them to reach out. It’s hardest for those of us who have only sick and selfish people in our lives. Where do we go to make friends and gather support?

I’ve seen incredible friendships born in psych hospitals, homeless shelters, and group therapy. Human nature – when we become desperate enough, we become less inhibited and more open to connection.

We’ve all seen close friendships come out of the workplace, college, community organizations and groups that revolve around shared interests. It’s simple – if we’re willing to be more real, more vulnerable, more active in getting our needs met, new possibilities are created.

I’m still down for starting F@cked Up Peoples Anonymous – but until then, reach out. Everyone is scared. Everyone hurts. Life is better when shared with kindred spirits.

“No one ever has it all together. That’s like trying to eat once and for all.” – Marilyn Grey

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.