Out of the Hospital and into the Fire

I kept hearing Humble Pie’s “Thirty Days in the Hole” playing in my head every time I counted the time I’d been hospitalized. Thank God I didn’t know what I was in for when I landed there. I just got through one day at a time – some rougher than others. All told it was fifty days before they let me out. I celebrated my newfound freedom by falling down in my driveway.

I like to take on every challenge and transition with a remarkable lack of poise. Being flat on my ass gazing up into the eyes of my understandably worried wife is a place I’ve been far too many times. We take turns reassuring each other and almost inexplicably, it keeps working out (“It” being everything of significance in my life). It has worked out far too well far too many times for me to doubt that it will continue to. This is the basis of my faith: I know that it will be ok. I don’t know when or how. I only know that it will and that eventually, it will be better than ever.

I do not struggle to believe in a Higher Power because I have a wonderful ability to laugh at myself and recognize that while things never work out as I plan for them to, they always turn out remarkably well in the end. I don’t taking credit for this. I have simply come to expect this based on experience.

I do not believe in coincidences, fate, or luck. I believe in Grace.

A dear friend shared with me a definition of Grace that I love. He calls it, “Unmerited divine assistance.” Whatever I may lack in style, luck, and timing is more than offset by the Universe continuously saving me from my foolish self. Better still, I find that when I stay in the efforts department and leave the results up to my Higher Power, everything works.

My friends in Recovery say, “Fear is the opposite of faith.” Fear makes me seek control and when I embrace the illusion of control I am most certainly f@cked. I am powerless over people, places, and things and the only thing I ever need to be in control of is me.

So now we’re on to the latest set of challenges and transitions.

I am spending this week relearning how to do a lot of things following my below the knee amputation. Today I shaved while standing on one leg. If you can’t see the humor in that I feel sorry for you. Friends and family aren’t quite sure if it’s too soon to make jokes. I assure them that if I don’t laugh now I’ll be a bona fide mess in no time.

I want a wooden leg and pirate ensemble. This will help offset what it feels like when I fall and instinctively my brain tells my right foot to plant itself…only I don’t have a right foot anymore.

In the midst of experiencing loss I feel drained and depleted. What then shall sustain and fortify me? I get to consciously choose this but to do so means I cannot wallow in self pity. I refuse to limit myself by asking why this had to happen. It did. I insist that learning, healing, and growing follow because otherwise it’s just shit.

If you see me out and about in the coming weeks, save me your sad expressions and awkward words of sympathy and tell me a good joke. It’s ok that you feel bad for me. I just choose not to. I’m embracing anew Christopher Daughtry’s, sentiments as he sings, “All that I’m after is a life full of laughter.”

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.