Denial, Distraction, and Being F.I.N.E.

I’ve always loved the adage, “No matter where you go, there you are.” I’ve learned that I can’t run away from me. I managed for years to flood my life with the needs, wants, and feelings of other people. The goal (though I didn’t realize it at the time) was twofold:

– Earn love, worth, acceptance, and everything else that I now only accept unconditionally
– Externalize every bit of time and energy so that the only thing left at the end of the day was exhaustion. This meant I never had to take stock of me. I found introspection painful, so I created a lot of ways to hide from me.

The problems with this approach include the fact that it’s a recipe for burnout. It killed my immune system, stressed me out, and left me resentful that I did so much for so many and got so little in return. The even bigger problem is that every time I stopped and took a minute to breathe…it was all still there.

“It’s all inside of me. It’s all inside of me. It’s all inside of me. It’s all inside of my head.” – Saliva “Click, Click, Boom”

Distraction and denial allowed me to pretend that what I was doing was good and that I was fine. Later on in therapy, I learned that I was F.I.N.E. (F@cked up Insecure Neurotic & Evasive). I’ve since learned that denial simply means lying to myself. I’ve accepted that when I lie to me about even the slightest of things, I undermine my ability to trust myself holistically. This makes my life unmanageable very quickly.

Today I choose rigorous honesty. There’s nothing in this world worth lying to myself over. I seek the truth no matter what it feels like. I’ve moved away from distraction too. I see it as temporary denial of my real feelings. It makes me numb and being numb feels empty.

“I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all.” – Three Days Grace “Pain without Love”
I’ve met a lot of folks who ran long, fast, and far. They come to see me because avoiding, compensating, and earning doesn’t work anymore. The weight of the world on their shoulders, aging before our time, the toll taken by anxiety and depression on the body and spirit, all of these boil down to a simple truth: Sooner or later, you either get right with yourself or you settle for far less of a life than you can have.

Please don’t settle. It will leave you broken and bitter. Choose to invest in yourself. Choose to resolve your hypocrisy. Don’t worry – you’re the best kind of hypocrite. You treat others well, and treat yourself with ambivalence (decidedly “meh.”) We sit on the fence – unwilling to choose our own side because we’re afraid to face ourselves and change.

Growing up in codependent families didn’t teach us to care for others. It taught us to take care of them. Worse, it taught us that attending to our own needs is selfish. It’s not. Stop running. Spend some time with yourself. It’s time.

“I didn’t know I was broken ’til I wanted to change” – The Bleachers “I Wanna Get Better”

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.